Why Biology?

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On our first day of class, we were posed with the question, “Why should we care about biology?” I’m sure a Biology major would have plenty to say in response, but this is a particularly intriguing idea for a psychology class to explore. See, psychology is a wide field that incorporates everything from how we think, learn, and behave to the changes we undergo between childhood and adulthood to what causes mental illness. What all these have in common is the brain.

The brain is comprised of a complex web of approximately 100 billion neurons, which are the specialized cells that make up the building blocks of the brain. Each has a function in passing along messages to other parts of the brain and body. This is where biology comes in. For each neuron to communicate with another neighboring neuron, there is an exchange of chemicals, which can either pass along or inhibit (stop) a message from continuing. Neurobiology focuses on these specific neurons and chemicals. Without understanding how neurons communicate with each other, or what happens when something goes awry in the brain’s circuitry, it would be impossible to determine what causes our behavior. Psychology and neuroscience come together to use the brain to help explain how we act and why we make the decisions we do.

Here’s a short clip explaining how neurons work:

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