Biologic bases of behavior

Biologic bases of behaviorOrder Description
Your essay should be 2,500 words in total
Title: Essay
This assignment assesses learning outcomes 1 and 2.
Write an essay answering one of two questions:
1) Critically evaluate the contribution of TWO research methods in biopsychology to the study of memory OR mental illness.
2) Critically evaluate the evidence for genetic contributions to a chosen behavioural or mental disorder, (such as, addictive behaviour, personality disorders).
Question 1
A passing answer must attempt to:
• Clearly describe the research methods evaluated
• Explain how the use of these methods has contributed to our understanding of the topic area, using relevant research evidence.
In addition, the general requirement for a good answer is to:
• Be well-written, showing evidence of sound argument and critical insight.
• Show reading of relevant recent research and an ability to integrate this research into the answer in a well-structured manner.
Furthermore, an excellent answer will include one or more of the following:
• Critical understanding of the research area
• Detailed critique of the practical and theoretical aspects of the methods selected
• Explanation of how the methods described are integrated with other biological research methods.
Question 2
A passing answer must attempt to:
• Clearly explain the link between the behaviour, brain function and genetics.
• Evaluate the strength of the evidence provided by different studies.
In addition, the general requirement for a good answer is to:
• Be well-written, showing evidence of sound argument and critical insight.
• Show reading of relevant recent research and an ability to integrate this research into the answer in a well-structured manner.
Furthermore, an excellent answer will include one or more of the following:
• Critical understanding of the chosen research area.
• Detailed critique of the methods used by researchers.
• Evaluation of the social and ethical consequences of researching the genetic bases of behavioural or mental disorders.
• Identification of appropriate follow-up research that could shed more light onto the chosen disorder.
Writing a critical review
A review of a single journal article needs to cover the following topics. It shouldn’t be divided into separate headed sections, but does need to address each.
The structure of the review
Rationale
What is the background to the specific study? Does it test a particular theory, or compare predictions from two different theories? There may not be space to describe each theory in detail, but you need to identify them and, if there is more than one, explain how they differ. Do the author’s predictions derive from previous research? Is it intended to address a ‘real world’ problem?
Aims
What is the question or questions the authors set out to ask? What predictions did they make?
Method
What are the key groups or conditions being compared? Identify important aspects of the procedure e.g. was there random allocation to groups, did the design control for potential confounding variables? What are the key dependent variables? How well does the study capture the essence of the topic under investigation?
Findings
Summarise the key findings in prose. You generally shouldn’t include statistics, unless the size of a difference (or correlation, etc.) is important to your evaluation.
Implications
What conclusions do the authors draw from their findings? What implications do the findings have outside the lab?
Evaluation
Are there any possible alternative explanations for the findings? Are there aspects of the design or analysis which would limit the confidence you could place in the conclusions? Don’t just list every criticism you can think of, no matter how trivial. Focus on those which are most serious and consider whether they do actually influence your conclusion.
Approaching the review
Steve Draper at Glasgow University has posted a good guide to critical reviews on the web at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/resources/crs.html
This covers literature reviews as well as reviews of single articles, but provides a number of good suggestions for ways of being critical.

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