Viewpoints to explore the biology of behavior

  • Nervous system
  • Hormones
  • Genetics
  • Nutrition
  • Gender

Nervous system and behavior

  • The most elementary form of behavior (reflex action ) is coordinated and organized by the spinal cord, which is the part of the CNS- Central Nervous System. Those behaviors are automatic and occur without the awareness of the organism.
  • Conditioned reflex, is coordinated and maintained by the cerebral cortex which is the highest center of the nervous system.
  • All parts of bodily actions are maintained by the higher centers of the CNS
  • It controls learning, memory, emotional response, thinking, and complex physiological activities.
Spinal cord

Maintenance of reflex actions.

Medulla or Brain stem

Controls the activities of ANS, which is concerned with vegetative and emergency functions.

Thalamus and hypothalamus

Emotional activities are highly responsible for behavioral activities.

Cerebellum

Maintenance of body equilibrium, postural sense, etc

Cerebrum

In the cerebrum, there are two hemispheres. The right hemisphere involves in creative and artistic thinking. The left hemisphere involves analytical and methodical thinking

Hormones and behavior

Hormones change gene expression or cellular function and affect behavior by increasing the likelihood that specific behaviors occur in the presence of precise stimuli. Hormones regulate behaviors such as

  • Aggression
  • Mating

Hormones are involved in regulating all sorts of bodily functions, and they are ultimately controlled through interactions between Hypothalamus- CNS and the Pituitary gland- Endocrine system.

Imbalance in these hormones is related to a number of disorders.

  • The pituitary gland is the master gland that secretes growth hormones, endorphins for pain relief, and secretes hormones to regulate fluid levels.
  • The thyroid gland regulates growth, helps in metabolism and appetite
  • The adrenal gland secretes hormones involved in stress response. Epinephrine and norepinephrine.
  • The gonads secrete sexual hormones. Important for reproduction. Female gonads- ovaries- oestrogen, progesterone. In male gonads- testies- androgen, testosterone.

How do hormones affect behavior?

  • Testosterone concentration influences sexual motivation and behavior in women
  • Testosterone activates the subcortical areas of the brain to produce aggression, while cortisol and serotonin act antagonistically with testosterone to reduce its effect.
  • Oestrogen affects aggressive interactions, as well as several behaviors that are closely linked with aggression, including sexual behaviors, communication, learning, and memory.
  • Progesterone when fertilization doesn’t occur progesterone level decreases resulting in an imbalance of sex hormones. During this period you feel more irritable, anxious and experience mood swings.
  • Adrenaline is responsible for behaviors related to fear. It causes an increase in the heartbeat and muscle contraction.

Nutrition

The consumption of certain nutrients can change the levels of brain chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells.

Research shows that nutrition can impact everything from a child’s growth to their mood, behavior, and learning capabilities. consumption of unhealthy food can have trouble concentrating, become easily fatigued, be listlessly irritable, and be likely to face difficulties in learning, which leads to behavioral and social problems.

Behavior modification is a technique that might be incorporated successfully in application-oriented nutrition courses as one possible way of facilitating clients’ successful control of problem eating behavior.

Genetics

Genes influence each individual’s behavioral and psychological characteristics, including intellectual ability, personality, and risk for mental illness.

Scientists estimate that 20 to 60% of temperament is determined by genetics. Eg: If a mother and daughter share genes that contribute to their extraverted temperament this similarity may contribute open communication between them

  • Genes influence behavior indirectly
  • There is usually more than one gene involved in behavior
  • Genes influence the production of proteins that affect the anatomy and physiology ( chemical processes) of the body
  • Some behaviors are more genetically influenced than others.
  • There is an interaction between environmental, biological, cognitive, and genetic factors in the development of behavior.

Gender

Boys were around 10% more likely to show what we call externalizing behaviors such as destructiveness and aggressiveness. Commonly boys are described as strong, aggressive, and bold.

Girls on the other hand internalizing behavior such as anxiety. Girls dress typically in a feminine way. polite in nature, accommodating, and nurturing.

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