It is so useful to all to know more information about the brain and behaviour.

In this article, I will show simple information about it and I will complete the topic in another article because I don’t want to make the article so long and I appreciate the precious time of all the readers too.

Our behaviour is controlled by our brain, but how is our brain connected to our behaviour?

Many techniques have been developed to consider brain functioning.  These may be:

1)- invasive

2)- non-invasive.

Methods of Investigating the Brain

1)  INVASIVE TECHNIQUES –

Ablations and Lesions One approach to studying the brain is to destroy part of the brain of animals to determine what behaviours or abilities are destroyed or eliminated.

An ablation is a procedure where a part of the brain tissue is destroyed or removed perhaps via surgery. 

A lesion is a wound or injury, often produced surgically, the lesion causes less damage than an ablation.

There are serious ethical issues with the study of behaviour using animals in this way. Also, researchers might not destroy the part of the brain they intend to destroy, or the surgery might affect other parts of the brain than those intended for study.   This type of research is now used much less than it was previously.

Brain Damage It is rare for ablation and lesion techniques to be used on humans (except in the case of psychosurgery and split-brain operations). 

However, natural incidents can occur where brain damage occurs and can be used for study.

 For example, car accidents, alcohol abuse, lead poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning, strokes etc.

Brain damage can result in many changes to the individual, such as:

  1. Inability to work
  2. Inability to perform basic motor functions
  3. Not being able to recognize certain objects
  4. Inability to perceive depth (i.e. see things in 2D rather than 3D). 5.  Changes in behaviour or temperament – more aggressive, unemotional, emotional, passive, less ambivalent, etc.
  5. Memory changes (amnesia) etc.

Cognitive neuropsychology is the area of psychology that studies brain-damaged patients to understand the workings of our brain.  The only difficulty with this is that we do not know the person’s behaviour prior to the damage so it is hard to ascertain the difference.  Also, often single case studies are used, as this type of damage is relatively rare.  So often, findings are based on the findings from only one person and may not be generalisable to the rest of the population.

Split Brain Operations – This is an operation where the corpus callosum is cut, separating the brain into two separate halves.  The corpus callosum is a collection of axons connecting the two hemispheres.  It is used to transmit information from one part of the brain to another.  The operation has been performed on individuals with severe epilepsy.  Epilepsy is caused by electrical activity in the brain, causing seizures.  If drugs don’t work, severing the connection between the left and right side of the brain can limit the electrical storm.  It does work, but if affects the patients in terms of their brain functioning, such as – if shown a picture in the left visual field, they may not recognize it when shown the picture in the right visual field. Schiffer (1998) also found that patients reported different emotions from the two parts of their mind.  This could give rise to anxiety and depression. Studies on split brain patients have shown that language processing occurs in the left hemisphere and spatial processing and emotion in the right hemisphere.

Psychosurgery – Many of these operations were called amygdalotomies, where parts of the amygdala are destroyed.  Kluver and Bucy (1939) carried out many of these operations on criminals in the United States.  These operations generally reduced fear and anger on those operated on, but had side effects, such as delusions, being unable to work, fearing part of their brain might be destroyed. These operations are very rarely carried out today.

Other invasive techniques include:

Electrical Stimulation of the brain – where a weak current is applied to the brain through electrodes.

Optical Dyes – This involved moving part of the skull from monkeys and placing a glass window over the primary visual cortex.  An optical dye that was voltage sensitive was injected into the primary visual cortex.  An electronic field was then passed through it and video recordings made of changes in colour.

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