Example SAR: Animal Studies at the BLA

tdixon Assessment (IB), Biological Psychology Leave a Comment

Because we share similar physiology but we're able to manipulate biological variables in ways that would be unethical on human subjects, animal subjects are valuable in biological psychology.

Example SAR:

Animal studies can provide an insight into human behaviour.

One principle of the biological level of analysis states that animal studies can provide an insight into human behaviour. This can be shown by looking at Rosenzweig and Bennett’s experiments.

The biological level of analysis attempts to study and understand human behaviour by measuring and observing the effects biology can have on behaviour. Animals have similar biological make-ups as humans and so it is possible that by conducting studies on animals we can obtain an insight into what might happen under similar circumstances to humans. For example, invasive techniques like lesioning and ablation can be used on rats’ brains to see what the effects are on their behaviour. This can provide an insight as to what that part of the brain might be responsible for a particular behaviour. This was an especially useful technique to use before the invention of modern brain imaging techniques such as the PET and fMRI.

            Another benefit to using animal studies is that we can use them in laboratory experiments that would be unethical to perform on humans. An example of this is Rosenzweig’s rat study. Rosenzweig investigated the role of the environment on neural development by placing rats in different types of cages (enriched, controlled and deprived). The results of the study showed that the rats in the enriched environment had a heavier cerebral cortex and more acetylcholine receptors. This shows that our environment can have an impact on our brain development. One limitation however with using animal studies is that the results cannot be generalized to humans, as we are different species. Thus, they can only provide an insight.

            This insight is valuable though as it can prompt other research. Perry for example, studied neglected three year old children by comparing MRI scans of their brains with children who were not neglected. The results showed a significant difference between the brain development between the two types of children. This study demonstrates how the insight provided by Rosenzweig’s animal study can be applied to humans.

            Animal studies are an important factor in studying biological influences in behaviour because they have some physiological similarities to humans. These biological factors are able to be studied in controlled laboratory environments to measure their effects on behaviours. (350 words, approx)

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