In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Biological Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Data Sources
  • The Binding Problem/Long-Range Integration
  • Intelligence
  • Language

Psychology Biological Psychology
James Kalat
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 August 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0012


Biological psychology approaches behavior and experience with the assumption that they are products of the nervous system, as it has been molded through evolution. This field encompasses studies of genetics, evolution, hormones, the nervous system, and the physiology of other organs, as they relate to perception, movement, learning, memory, motivation, emotion, consciousness, and abnormal behavior. The term biological psychology is approximately synonymous with biopsychology, psychobiology, behavioral neuroscience, and physiological psychology. Research methods include examining behavioral changes after brain damage, brain stimulation, and drug injections. Methods also include recordings from the brain during behavior, genetic analyses of behavior, and comparisons of behavior in different species. Traditionally, and still to a large extent, researchers have relied on studies of laboratory animals. However, because of advances in brain imaging, today’s researchers also conduct much research on humans.


Several textbooks are available, with varying levels and emphases. Any of these could be consulted for more detailed information. Expect each of them to be revised periodically. Biological psychology heavily overlaps neuroscience, but, as a rule, textbooks with the word neuroscience in the title tend to put more emphasis on the physiology and biochemistry of the nervous system. Those with the title biological psychology tend to put more emphasis on application to behavior.

  • Bear, Mark F., B. W. Connors, and Michael A. Paradiso. 2016. Neuroscience: Exploring the brain. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

    A text suitable for students with a strong biology background and an interest in neuroscience.

  • Breedlove, S. Marc, and Neil V. Watson. 2017. Behavioral neuroscience. 8th ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.

    One of the standard undergraduate textbooks.

  • Carlson, Neil R., and Melissa A. Birkett. 2017. Physiology of behavior. 12th ed. Boston: Pearson.

    Generally regarded as a more detailed text, suitable for graduate courses as well as for advanced undergraduates.

  • Kalat, James W. 2016. Biological psychology. 12th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage.

    One of the standard undergraduate textbooks, available as an eBook.

  • Khosla, Meetu. 2017. Physiological psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    A shorter undergraduate textbook, available in paperback.

  • Pinel, John P. J., and Steve Barnes. 2018. Biopsychology. 10th ed. Boston: Pearson.

    One of the standard undergraduate textbooks.

  • Purves, Dale, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, and Leonard E. White, eds. 2012. Neuroscience. 5th ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.

    A comprehensive textbook appropriate for medical students and graduate students.

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