Biopsychology II

This advanced Biopsychology course is aimed at those wishing to further develop their knowledge and understanding of the brain and its role in behaviour. It is best suited to those who already have some knowledge of brain anatomy and functioning.

Course CodeBPS204
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Build on your knowledge and understanding with this course. If you have a good grasp of brain anatomy, chemicals and processes, then this course will help to expand your knowledge. Find out how drugs and damage to the nervous system affect brain functioning and behaviour. 


This is a stand-alone course that complements our Biopsychology I module. If you have no previous studies in this area then it is wise to take Biopsychology I first.
Learn about research into complex brain processes such as memory systems, and the effects of brain damage and other factors on those processes. 
People working or studying in the areas of counselling, psychology or health will benefit from the deeper understanding of the relationship between our physiological states and our mental processes and how these influence behaviour. 


Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Evolution, Genetics and Experience
    • What is biopsychology
    • The organism's genetic endowment, experience and perception.
    • Adaptation
    • Behavioural genetics
    • The nature nurture debate
    • The human genome
    • Benefits of genetic research
    • Critical policy and ethical issues
  2. Research Methods in Biopsychology
    • Behavioural genetics
    • Methods of investigating the brain: insvasive and non invasive
    • Localisation of function
    • Neuroanatomical techniques
    • Psychophysiological measures
    • Other methods
    • Lesions
  3. Brain Damage
    • Causes of brain damage
    • Frontal lobe damage
    • Damage to other areas and effects
    • Types of brain damage
    • Case study : Phineas Gage
    • Case study: diagnosing epilepsy
    • Case study -Alzeimer's disease
  4. Recovery from Brain Damage
    • Neuro plasticity
    • Stages of recovery: unresponsiveness, early responses, agitated and confused, higher level responses,
    • Case study: Parkinson's disease
    • Parkinsons disease symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, stages, etc
    • Drug treatments for parlinson's disease
    • Complimentary and supportive therapies for Parkinson's disease
    • Coping with Parkinson's disease
    • Terminology
  5. Drug Dependence and the Brain
    • Drugs
    • Definitions
    • Effects of illegal drugs
    • Other drugs: steroids, barbituates, etc
    • Physiological and psychological effects of drugs: illicits, stimulants
    • Addiction: how drugs work in the brain
    • Central nervous system
  6. Memory
    • Models of memory: multistore model, eorking memory model, levels of processing model
    • Levels of processing model
    • Amnesia and types of amnesia
    • Case study: traumatic amnesia
    • Case study: Korsakoff's syndrome (Alcohol amnesic syndrome)
  7. Language
    • The brain and language
    • Paul Broca
    • Carl Wernicke
    • Aphasia and Diphasia
    • Apraxia

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Understand how evolution, genetics and experience influence behaviour and individual differences.
  • Discuss methods of research used to understand the functioning of the nervous system and behaviour.
  • Explain different causes of brain damage and the resultant effects on brain functioning.
  • Understand neuro-plasticity from the perspective of development, learning and recovery from brain damage.
  • Delineate the effects of drugs on the CNS and to explain biopsychological theories of addiction and reward systems in the brain.
  • Describe memory structures in the brain, theories of memory storage and evidence from different types of amnesia.
  • Describe different models of language localisation and to evaluate evidence for these models.

What You Will Do

  • Discuss how human behaviour is linked to evolution.
  • Explain how dominant traits are passed on to offspring by genetics.
  • Describe the relationship between gene expression and the genetic code.
  • Consider how studies of identical twins shed light on the development of differences among individuals.
  • Explain how CT and PET scans are used to obtain images of the brain.
  • Determine what invasive research methods have been employed to understand the brain and behaviour.
  • Consider how drugs are used to understand neurotransmitters and their effect on behaviour.
  • Explain how gene knockout and gene replacement techniques are used.
  • Outline methods of neuropsychological testing.
  • Determine how studying animal behaviour in the laboratory can be useful in understanding human behaviour.
  • List and define the most common causes of brain damage.
  • Explain the significance of neuron death.
  • Explain what happens during neural regeneration and neural degeneration.
  • Determine the function of slow and rapid neural reorganisation in the mammalian brain.
  • Determine the extent of neurotransplantation of replacement parts in the brain.
  • Explain the relationship between physical dependence on drugs and withdrawal syndrome.
  • Explore the extent to which neural mechanisms may be involved in addiction.
  • Determine what medial temporal lobe amnesia tell us about implicit and explicit memory.
  • Consider cerebral dominance through language lateralisation and left and right-handedness.
  • Consider evidence that suggests that the hemispheres of split-brain patients function independently.
  • Identify what we now know about lateralisation of function in the left and right hemispheres.
  • Evaluate the Wernicke-Geschwind model of cortical localisation of language.

What can Go Wrong with a Brain?

The brain is extremely specialised and complex. Due to this complexity, the slightest damage can have serious consequences. The brain can be damaged in many different ways and it depends on the severity and the area damaged, as to how harmful the damage is. These are some causes of brain damage:

  • Brain tumours are a mass of cells that grow independently from the rest of the body.  More cases of brain tumours are detected now due to sophisticated techniques. The growth of cancerous cells puts pressure onto the brain, which can cause a blood clot or directly cause brain damage due to the pressure of the tumour. 
  • Cerebrovascular disorders Include bleeding in the brain or a disruption of supply to the brain.  Lack of blood to the brain can cause problems for the cells that are associated with the brain. Humans can survive for around four minutes without oxygen, before the brain damage becomes severe, leaving little realistic chance of survival.  A stroke can lead to a blood shortage to the brain, which is caused by a blood clot.
  • Closed head injuries are injuries which do not penetrate the skull. Contusions cause bleeding and are generally caused by the brain slamming against the skull.  A sufficient blow to the head can supersede the skull’s defences (particularly at the temple) and can therefore allow structural damage to occur.
  • Infections of the brain An invasion of the brain by micro-organism is a brain infection, and resulting inflammation is encephalitis. There are two common types of brain infection: bacterial infections and viral infections.    
  • Neurotoxins The nervous system can be damaged by exposure to any one of a variety of toxic chemicals, mercury and lead can accumulate in the brain and permanently damage it producing a toxic psychosis.
  • Genetic factors such as chromosomal anomalies, abnormal recessive genes or faulty dominant genes can lead to a range of disorders such as Down’s syndrome, Huntington’s disease and phenylketonuria.  A dysfunctional hereditary gene could be passed on to offspring preventing the brain from fully developing. 

Psychology Can affect the Physical Body, and vice-versa

Excessive stress for a long period can at first cause unpleasant feelings, but in due course, it can cause physical damage to the body, fatigue, and in extreme situations, ultimately death. Excessive stress that causes physical damage has been called dystress (by Syle). The Greek prefix “dys” means bad. Dystress literally means “bad stress”. Some stress is both inevitable, and in some respects, desirable. Dystress (or distress), however, is not desirable.

There are damaging effects to the human body caused by constant stress. Changes in the physiological processes that alter resistance to disease (e.g. blood chemistry changes) and pathological changes (e.g. organ system break down and ulcers) are both manifestations of stress. The body’s defence mechanisms may be affected both directly and indirectly (by promoting behaviours that weaken these mechanisms or that lead to exposure to pathogens).

Modern humans with their new technology, do less physical work, stimulate themselves when tired (television, food, alcohol), and eat when they are not hungry, etc. This actually goes against all natural feelings "signals from the brain". Humans are actually depriving themselves, and this is a major psychosocial cause of stress. Another psychosocial cause of stress is "adaption" overload where people are being faced by constant or rapid change whether it be social, cultural, technological, etc.

Other Learning Options

If you are not sure if this is the course for you, why not have a look at our other psychology courses? Perhaps Biopsychology I or an Introduction to Psychology if you are new to the subject..

How this Course Might Benefit You

This course builds on studies undertaken in Biopsychology I and assumes students have some understanding of brain structures and functions.  There is greater emphasis on the effects of brain damage and drugs on behaviour and the higher cognitive functions of memory and language are explored in detail.  Graduates of both biopsychology courses will feel confident that they have a thorough grounding in the functions of different brain centres. 

This course may be studied by itself or as part of a certificate or higher level course. The course will be most interest to those working in or planning to work in:





Biological sciences

Health sciences

Health professional



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Karen Lee

Nutritional Scientist, Dietician, Teacher and Author. BSc. Hons. (Biological Sciences), Postgraduate Diploma Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered dietitian in the UK, with over 15 years working in the NHS. Karen has undertaken a number of research projec
Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Di
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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