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Human Behavior & Physiological Response

John L. Andreassi

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eBook - ePub


Human Behavior & Physiological Response

John L. Andreassi

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This highly readable and comprehensive overview of psychophysiology provides information regarding the anatomy and physiology of various body systems, methods of recording their activity, and ways in which these measures relate to human behavior. Biofeedback applications are contained in a separate chapter and discussions of stress management, job strain, and personality factors that affect cardiovascular reactivity are presented. There is much of interest here to the student, researcher, and clinician in behavioral medicine, ergonomics, emotion, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, and health psychology.

Now in its fourth edition, Andreassi's Psychophysiology explores some of the newer areas of importance and updates findings in traditional topics of interest. Significant changes to this edition include:

  • updated information on brain activity in memory, perception, and intelligence;
  • new information on brain imaging and behavior;
  • separate chapters on pupillography and eye movements;
  • new information on the startle pattern and eyeblink;
  • separate chapters on clinical and non-clinical applications;
  • updated information on cardiovascular reactivity and personality;
  • the latest biofeedback and ergonomics applications;
  • novel findings in environmental psychophysiology;
  • brief summaries at the end of each section; and
  • an appendix on laboratory safety

Each chapter is a self-contained unit allowing instructors to customize the presentation of the material. With over 1, 700 citations, Andreassi's Psychophysiology is the definitive text in the field.

An instructor's manual is now available. Based on the book, the manual is primarily a test bank to be used in giving examinations to students during the teaching of a course. Both multiple-choice and essay questions have been provided, along with lists of key terms and ideas. These can be used for definition-type questions and to highlight important concepts, as well as alerting the instructor to important terms and ideas that they may want to cover in lectures. Sample syllabi are provided for teaching a course at both undergraduate and graduate levels to help the instructor who is preparing a course for the first time. A number of possible laboratory exercises are also provided that can be carried out in conjunction with teaching the course.

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Introduction to Psychophysiology


In the first edition of this book, I wrote that “the field of psychophysiology is concerned with the measurement of physiological responses as they relate to behavior.” The word behavior is used now, as then, in the broadest sense to include such diverse activities as sleep, problem solving, reactions to stress, learning, memory, information processing, perception, or—in short—any of the activities that psychologists are inclined to study. This characterization of the field requires some clarification. You, the reader, may ask how psychophysiology differs from the discipline traditionally known as physiological psychology; the answer is that it is mainly in the approach and subject matter of these areas, because the goal of understanding the physiology of behavior is the same.
Distinctions have been made between psychophysiology and physiological psychology in terms of how dependent and independent variables are used (Lykken, 1984; Stern, 1964). The dependent variables refer to what is actually being measured in a research project, and the independent variable is the aspect being manipulated. Stern and Lykken said that in psychophysiology, the dependent variables are physiological (e.g., heart rate) and the independent variables are psychological (e.g., problem solving). However, in physiological psychology the dependent variables are mainly psychological (learning, or perceptual accuracy, as examples), whereas independent variables are physiological (e.g., brain stimulation or removal of brain tissue). This distinction in terms of dependent and independent variables is useful but not entirely satisfactory to Furedy (1983), who argued that this approach does not cover the example of a physiological psychologist who records and studies changes in a single neuron while psychological stimuli are manipulated. According to Furedy’s definition: “Psychophysiology is the study of psychological processes in the intact organism as a whole by means of unobtrusively measured physiological processes” (p. 13). He emphasized that a measurement made unobtrusively, as with surface electrodes, results in a more accurate picture of the behaving organism. Mangina (1983) objected to Furedy’s use of the term “intact organism” because this would exclude the study of brain damaged, mentally retarded, or drug-influenced persons, and patients suffering from various psychophysiological disorders. Mangina defined psychophysiology as “the science which studies the physiology of psychic functions through the brain-body-interrelationships of the living organism in conjunction with the environment” (p. 22).
At this point, I propose a definition that attempts to integrate those previously offered: Psychophysiology is the study of relations between psychological manipulations and resulting physiological responses, measured in the living organism, to promote understanding of the relation between mental and bodily processes. I believe this definition can provide a useful starting point.


A number of activities are as important to the field of psychophysiology as they are to other life sciences. These include the conduct of animal research to allow fuller understanding of basic physiological mechanisms, the development of electronic instrumentation to enable increasingly sophisticated measurements, and the testing of hypotheses that allow researchers to ask questions and obtain answers in their pursuit of knowledge.
Psychological processes studied in psychophysiology range from emotional responses, as in fear and anger, to cognitive activities, such as decision making and problem solving. The reader will find that, in this text, the word behavior is used broadly to encompass a variety of human activities including: learning, problem solving, sensing, perceiving, attending, sleeping, and emotional response. The physiological responses include those recorded from the brain, heart, muscles, skin, and eyes, among others. Most of the measures taken in psychophysiology can be obtained from surface areas of the body and are, therefore, considered to be noninvasive. Some of the newer techniques involve what has been termed neuwimaging. These include positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) (Kutas & Federmeier, 1998). The fMRI and MEG are noninvasive, but PET is minimally invasive because it involves injecting a radioactive substance into the blood stream. All of these techniques, along with the usually invasive approaches of traditional physiological psychology, are aimed at learning more about the physiological substrates of behavior. Interest in these physiological substrates has existed for centuries. In fact, this area of investigation is the modern version of what early philosophers, physicians, and scientists struggled with as the “mind-body problem.” The questions revolved around the locus of those mental or spiritual events, including thoughts and feelings, that could not be easily labeled as physical activities.
There are exceptions to the noninvasive approach that characterizes most of psychophysiology. For example, some psychophysiologists have recorded directly from brain tissue of patients while they were engaged in cognitive tasks. As I stated previously, however, most studies in this area concern the behaving, intact organism, using surface recordings or other noninvasive techniques. Thus, in psychophysiology, we are able to study heart rate changes that occur in response to unexpected stimuli, or brain activity patterns recorded while an individual listens to music. Speed of response and related muscle activity are also topics of study, as well as eye movement patterns when a person searches for a specific target among other visual stimuli, and changes in electrical activity of the skin surface with emotion-provoking conditions.
An underlying premise in the conduct of these studies is that the information obtained will enable us to better understand the relations and interactions between physiology and behavior. Perhaps we will some day come closer to solving the mind-body problem. As Kutas and Federmeier (1998) point out, modern science recognizes the brain as the most direct substrate for the behaviors that psychophysiologists study. However, measures of heart, muscle, and other activities also aid in our understanding and development of conceptualizations regarding physiology-behavior relationships, an endeavor examined in chapter 18 of this book. At this point, it would be instructive to take a brief look at the historical development of psychophysiology.


The rationale for the psychophysiological approach stems from a desire to know more about physiological processes occurring in the organism engaged in a variety of psychological activities; and, this is possible only through very careful observation or the use of specialized instruments. Just as a blood sample tells a physician something about the physical condition of an apparently healthy patient, a sampling of heart rate tells the psychophysiologist something about the emotional state of an outwardly calm individual. It is the point of view here that behavior is the result of ongoing mental processes. Thus, observed behavior is not the equivalent of mental activities, because these activities are not always translated into motor acts. However, these mental activities themselves, although not directly observable, are behaviors.
How did a desire to know more about physiological correlates of behavior develop? Records of when humans first asked about psychophysiological relationships do not exist. It is reasonable to assume that very early humans wondered about the source of our thoughts and other mental activities. There is evidence that Stone Age cavepeople may have associated headaches, distressing thoughts, or evil spirits with the inside of the head, because skulls containing holes (trephined) have been found among the remains of cave dwellers (Carson, Butcher, & Coleman, 1988). One might imagine the following scene, taking place some 250,000 years ago inside a cave illuminated by a fire: Some unfortunate caveperson, probably one who had continuous head pains or heard strange voices, is being held down by several others while an early “neurosurgeon” carefully chips away bits of skin and bone with stone tools to form an opening at the top of the skull. Scientists surmise that this trephining took place because hundreds of skulls of Stone Age cave dwellers have holes that were neatly formed and obviously made with care. In addition, the areas of healed bone around the edges of the opening (called callus tissue) suggest that the individual survived the procedure for some time after it was performed. Evidence of healing is more the rule than the exception. Hundreds of skulls with signs of trephination have been found all over Europe, including Denmark, Sweden, Poland, France, Spain, and the British Isles (Haeger, 1988). In one study of skulls found in Peru, there was evidence of healing in 250 out of 400 skulls examined. Special metal saws for the procedure were used as early as 300 B.C. by Celtic warrior-surgeons in Germany and Hungary (Haeger, 1988). Written records indicate that trephining was performed in medieval times presumably to allow evil spirits to escape from inside the heads of tormented or deranged individuals.
One of the earliest recorded expressions of a relationship between a body organ (brain) and mental events is found in Egyptian papyri dating from the 16th century B.C. (Edwin Smith Papyrus). These written records clearly indicate the belief that the brain was recognized as the locus of mental activity, and are all the more remarkable because they are believed to be copies of earlier writings from about 3000 B.C. (Carson, Butcher, & Coleman, 1988). In fact, the papyri reveal that at least one Egyptian physician saw the relation between head injury and difficulty in speech and movement. Smith’s papyri were not translated until the early 20th century (Changeaux, 1985). Other Egyptian writings dating from about 1550 B.C. (Eber’s Papyri) claim that the heart has a central role in controlling mental activities—including thought, memory, and conciousness. Later Egyptian physicians knew that brain injury could cause aphasia (disturbance in understanding language) and paralysis (Haeger, 1988).
The Greek physician Hippocrates, who was born about 460 B.C., is often referred to as the father of medicine because he systematized much of the medical knowledge of the time. He emphasized the centrality of the brain’s role in human behavior by writing that the brain is the organ by which we experience sights, sounds, thoughts, joy, laughter, sorrow, and pain (Penfield & Roberts, 1959). He wrote further that the brain is our interpreter of conscious experience. Hippocrates also advanced the idea that different body fluids (“humors”) could affect behavior. This emphasized the physiology-behavior interface in another way. The fluids were identified as black bile, blood, yellow bile, and phlegm. Hippocrates erroneously believed that mental problems could occur when these humors were excessive or out of balance. For example, an excess of phlegm could cause depression, whereas an excess of bile would cause excited and mischievous behavior.
Herophilus, a fourth century B.C. physician, considered to be the father of anatomy, contributed much information about the anatomy of the nervous system (Garrison, 1929). Herophilus distinguished the cerebrum from the cerebellum and wrote that the brain is the center of mental activity. He was also the first on record to distinguish between nerves that received sensations (sensory nerves) and those responsible for movement (motor nerves; Haeger, 1988).
Plato, the philosopher born in 427 B.C., believed that mental activities, and the soul, were localized in the brain. He and other philosophers of his time were concerned with the body-mind problem, or the relationship between physiological activities and spiritual (mental) events. He taught that the body and soul are separate substances (a position called dualism), and that the soul lives in the brain.
Aristotle, born in 384 B.C., was a pupil of Plato. He differed from his mentor in his belief that the main function of the brain was to act as a cooling system for the body, lowering the temperature of blood containing food and bringing on sleep (Changeaux, 1985). Aristotle attributed important behavioral functions to the heart because he wrote that it was the seat of mental functions such as sensations, passions, and intellect (perhaps showing the influence of the earlier Egyptians). In addition, Artistotle taught that the heart was the source of nervous control and the location of the soul. Despite his false assignment of such a menial role to the brain, Aristotle is considered to be one of the greatest biologists who ever lived. He initiated the sciences of embryology, zoology, and comparative anatomy (Garrison, 1929). Aristotle was an early contributor to psychology through his classification and accurate descriptions of the five classical senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell). He also introduced the concept of association, which emphasizes the connection of ideas as being critical in allowing their later retrieval from memory. Aristotle believed, contrary to Plato’s view, that the body and soul comprised a single entity, a position called monism.
The Greek physician Galen, who lived in Rome in the second century A.D., supported the idea of many earlier scientists that the mind is located in the brain. Galen did experiments with animals and concluded that the brain played a critical role in controlling bodily and mental activity. He was convinced that the brain was an organ where mental images and intelligence arise. Galen was the first experimental neurologist; he described the cranial nerves and the sympathetic nervous system and was the first to partially sever the spinal cord of animals to produce hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body). However, many of Galen’s ideas about function were inaccurate; for example, he claimed that animal spirits passing from the lens of the eye through hollow tubes (optic nerves) transported visual impressions to the brain (Polyak, 1957). He also believed that the most important parts of the brain were the cavities (ventricles) that supposedly contained the animal spirits that were critical for sensory and mental activity.
The important function given to the brain cavities influenced later thinkers and was even represented in anatomical sketches of the visual system by Leonardo DaVinci (Polyak, 1957). Galen also developed Hippocrates’ ideas of bodily humors into a more systematic concept of physical factors that influence a person’s temperament. According to Galen, the four humors had special functions: phlegm caused sluggishness; black bile induced melancholy; yellow bile caused bad temper; and blood carried vital spirits and produced a cheerful, optimistic temperament. Galen’s ideas about body humors were widely accepted through the Middle Ages without much refinement. He set the stage for later theories about differences in physical features of the body as causal factors in personality differences. Most of these later theories had as little scientific verification as those proposed by Galen.
One of the first models localizing specific mental functions to discrete brain areas was advanced by a fourth century A.D. philosopher named Nemesius. He attributed mental functions to specific compartments in the brain. The compartments, or cells, were actually ventricles of the brain, the hollow areas through which cerebrospinal fluid circulates. He placed perception (cellula phantastica) in the ventricle toward the front, thinking and reasoning in the middle ventricle (cellula logistica), and memory in the rear ventricle (cellula memorialis). Centuries later, the brilliant anatomist Andreas Vesalius reformed and improved on the brain anatomy of Galen with his very accurate descrip...


  1. Cover
  2. Halftitle
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Preface
  8. Copyright Information
  9. 1 Intrroduction to Psychophysiology
  10. 2 The Nervous System and Measurement of Its Activity
  11. 3 The EEG and Behavior: Motor and Mental Activities
  12. 4 The EEG and Behavior: Sensation. Attention, Perception, Conditioning and Sleep
  13. 5 Event-Related Brain Potentials and Behavior I: Measurement, Motor Activity, Hemispheric Asymmetries, and Sleep
  14. 6 Event-Related Brain Potentials and Behavior II: Mental, Sensory, Attentional, and Perceptual Activities
  15. 7 Event-Related Slow Brain Potentials and Behavior
  16. 8 Muscle Activity and Behavior
  17. 9 Electrodermal Activity (EDA) and Behavior
  18. 10 Pupillary Response and Behavior
  19. 11 Eye Movements, Eye Blinks, and Behavior
  20. 12 Heart Activity and Behavior I: Developmental Factors, Motor and Mental Activities, Perception, Attention, and Orienting Responses
  21. 13 Heart Activity and Behavior II: Stress, Emotions, Motivation, Personality, Social Factors, Brain Interactions, and Conditioning
  22. 14 Blood Pressure, Blood Volume, and Behavior
  23. 15 Applied Psychophysiology I: Detection of Deception, Vigilance, Job Design, and Workload
  24. 16 Applied Psychophysiology II: Auditory and Visual System Tests, Nervous System Disorders, and Behavior Disorders
  25. 17 Clinical Applications of Biofeedback
  26. 18 Concepts in Psychophysiology
  27. 19 Environmental Psychophysiology
  28. Appendix: Laboratory Safety
  29. Subject Index