The integration of neuroscience with psychology can help psychology by increasing knowledge of physiological influences on psychological behavior. By understanding how the brain creates and responds to various hormones, chemicals, and other stimuli, we can gain a greater understanding on conditions that were once considered exclusively within the realm of psychology. For instance, many dysfunctional behaviors were once considered to be based on how the mind works psychologically; in other words, experiences and emotions were responsible for one’s general mental well-being. With advents and discoveries in neuroscience, however, we now recognize there can be a physiological component as well, as certain conditions such as depression may be caused by a chemical imbalance rather than having negative past experiences.
Our understanding of genetics has influenced psychological research by showing how there can be a genetic predisposition toward certain behavioral patterns. This would explain why some people might have a tendency to become easily addicted to a habit such as gambling, while others do not. While addiction of this sort is often understood in regard to one’s psychological makeup, there is also a tendency for these behaviors to be inherited. Thus, certain personality types and behavior are now known to often have a genetic component. This will influence how these sorts of issues can be treated. If there is a genetic influence, including a physiological characteristic or trait, then some treatments might be preferred over others; in the behavior is deemed to have a genetic and physical component, a pharmaceutical treatment might be preferred over therapy.
Some examples of real-world applications where research on biology, neuroscience and psychology overlap would be how mental health issues are treated, as well as including a psychological element in treating several physical health issues. For instance, if someone suffers from severe anxiety, there may be both biological and psychological elements at play. First, the person may have a genetic predisposition toward anxiety, as it may run in the family. This might result in chemical imbalances which produce feelings of anxiety. At the same time, the person will be experiencing psychological distress. For this type of treatment, it might be recommended to place the individual on anti-anxiety medications to address the chemical imbalance; while also recommending therapy and counseling to help the person make interpersonal adjustments that relate to anxiety. There might even be further advice based on biology and nutrition, such as recommending the individual achieve more physical exercise and avoid certain substances, such as caffeine, which may also help reduce anxiety. Integrating these fields can therefore provide a better treatment that addresses the numerous issues, both physical and mental, the person may be experiencing.
Another application might be to introduce psychological treatments and therapies into non mental-health hospitals. For instance, previously a treatment for intensive physical rehabilitation after experiencing a stroke would focus primarily on neuroscience techniques to improve cognition, strength training, and nutrition. However, the psychological element might have been previously ignored, or not fully understood in regard to how psychological conditions can influence physical health. By integrating these disciplines, this type of treatment might involve psychological techniques aimed at improving motivation, or reducing overall stress and anxiety related to the experience.
Essentially, the blend of biology, neuroscience and technology when providing medical or mental-health treatments results in a more holistic treatment overall. Many physical traumas can have a psychological component, and many psychological conditions are known to be caused, at least in part, by a biological component. Thus, integrating these fields provides us with a more robust knowledge of how to care for both medical and mental-health issues.