Biopsychology - Detailed overview

Occupation Training Program: Biopsychology
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Main description


Biopsychology programs teach people about the links between the human body and human psychology. Students learn about body chemistry. They study the central nervous system and how it affects mental health or illness.

Do you remember learning how to read? Most kids know the alphabet years before they learn to read. When you know only the alphabet, you don't realize that putting letters together in different ways actually makes words. Yet, once you learned what sounds each letter makes, it wasn't so hard to sound words out. Soon you were reading sentences! Have you ever wondered, though, how your brain remembered all that information? How did it learn? Biopsychologists are interested in answering this question. They study how the brain does things and reacts. This includes how we feel, act, and behave.

From these examples you can see that to understand biopsychology, you need to study a good amount of science. You study the biology of the brain as well as how people think and feel. You also take courses in anatomy, physiology, and statistics. You study how everyday biological processes affect our perceptions, the way we learn, and our emotional states. In addition, depending on your interests, you can take courses about how drugs and alcohol affect the brain or how animals behave. You might study biorhythms. You might investigate why we think we perceive color with our peripheral vision despite the fact that the sides of our eyes have almost no color-perceiving cone cells. You might investigate whether people really have a diminished sense of balance as they get older. For many or most of these questions, the answers lie at the cellular level.

Most of your courses will include lots of research time. You learn how to design experiments and how to use statistical processes to make sense of the data you collect.

Most people with a degree in biopsychology work as researchers and lab assistants. You can work for drug and chemical companies. You can experiment on new drugs and help design new medications. In addition, you can work for university schools of public health, medicine, or pharmacy. Your knowledge of the central nervous system will especially aid you in getting a job in health-related fields.

About 60 schools offer undergraduate programs in biopsychology, and the number of programs is expected to grow as the general field of neuroscience expands. Typically you finish your bachelor's degree in four years. A handful of schools also offer graduate degrees in biopsychology. Typically it takes three to five years to get your master's or doctorate after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people with graduate degrees in biopsychology become professors or researchers.



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