AP Psychology/Biological Bases of Behavior

Introduces behaviors and mental processes from a biological perspective and explore the effects of the interaction between human biology and our environment.[1]

Objectives and SkillsEdit

Topics may include:[2]

  • The interaction of inherited traits, environment, and evolution in shaping behavior
  • Structures and functions of biological systems, including the endocrine system and nervous system
  • Brain function, neural firing, and the influence of medication
  • The study of the brain and research techniques for studying its structure and function
  • States of consciousness, including sleeping and dreaming
  • Addiction and drug dependence

Study NotesEdit

  • Phrenology - Different brain areas accounted for a specific character and personality traits (proposed by Franz Joseph Gall). You're the way you are because of the bumps on your head.
  • Reuptake - Neurotransmitters in the synapse are reabsorbed into the sending neurons through the process of reuptake.


Acetylcholine (ACL)
  • Excitatory/Inhibitory
  • Functions: Learning, memory.
  • Problems: ACL deteriorates → causes Alzheimer [forgets stuff]
  • Excitatory
  • Functions: Pleasure, movement.
  • Problems: Not Enough → Parkinson's Disease (trembling, affects movement); Too much → Schizophrenia (two minds) (hereditary)
Norepinephrine (NE)
  • Excitatory/Inhibitory
  • Functions: Mood, alertness.
  • Problems: Not Enough → Depression.
Serotonin (5-HT)
  • Excitatory/Inhibitory
  • Functions: Mood, appetite, sleep.
  • Problems: Not Enough → Depression; Too much → Anxiety/No Dreams
  • Examples: Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozae (inhibit serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRI]).
  • Inhibitory
  • Functions: Sleep, inhibits movement/effection axons, calming
  • Problems: Helps to calm anxiety; Not Enough → Seizures, tremors, insomnia
  • Excitatory
  • Functions: Memory, learning, synaptic plasticity (flexible)
  • Problems: Too much → Overstimulate the brain, causing migraines or seizures.
  • Functions: Inhibit neural regulators, pain-relief, treats pain.
  • Examples: Heroin, morphine, opium

  • Lock and Key Mechanism: Neurotransmitters bind to the receptors of the receiving neuron in a key-lock mechanism.
  • Agonists: Similar to neurotransmitters and bind to its receptor sites to mimic its effects.
  • Antagonists: Bind to receptors, but they BLOCK A neurotransmitter's function.

Nervous SystemEdit

See pic.

Endocrine SystemEdit

See pic.



  • Lesion - Tissue Destruction
  • Autopsy - Postmortem Examination

Imaging TechniquesEdit