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The human mind is among the most essential organs to our survival. And yet, as fundamental a concept as the human mind is, our understanding of it and how it functions is fairly limited. To begin with, there are several different approaches to the study of the brain. Fields of study can be classified under anatomical, physiological, psychological and philosophical. When discussing the concept of the mind, it is important to distinguish which branch of research one is referring to, so as to avoid confusion.An anatomical understanding of the mind deals with the structural forms associated with the neural processes that contribute to thought and human behavior. This type of research is closely related to physiological research, which deals directly with the processes of neurons and their involvement in thought and bodily functions.The study of brain anatomy involves the categorization and identification of the different physical parts of the brain including: Cerebral CortexThe cerebral cortex is closely associated with human personality, or that which makes us unique. Higher thought processes, language, consciousness, as well as thinking, and imagination are associated with this region of the brain.
The Brain StemThe brain stem is located below the brain and acts as a “stem” that connects the brain to the spinal cord. This region of the brain is divided into the hindbrain and the midbrain.Some other important areas of the brain include:• The cerebellum• The thalamus• The hypothalamus• The limbic system• The basal gangliaTogether these structures and regions form a physical map of the brain and are central to the everyday functions of the human body. In addition to mapping the anatomical regions of the brain, researchers in the field of brain anatomy and physiology may also study the neural processes of the brain. These processes include:
Study of the central nervous system such as the motor, visual, somatosensory and auditory cortexes.
The peripheral nervous system, which includes study of the somatic, autonomic, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Study of neurotransmitters, which relay information in the form of chemical, not electrical, impulses between brain neurons and cells. In addition to anatomical and physiological study of the brain, many branches of psychology and philosophy are devoted to its study as well.Some of these fields of study include:
Psychoanalysis and analytical psychology - psychoanalysis, first articulated by Sigmund Freud, studies the structure of the conscious mind and thought as they relate to the narrative.
Analytical psychology, or archetypal psychology, was developed by Carl Jung, who expanded on Freud’s theories by studying how hierarchies and archetypes shape the human mind.Additional study topics in the philosophy of mind include:
Dualism - the theory first put forth by Rene Descartes, that every human being has, or is, both a body and a mind. That the body is physical and the mental is distinctly not-physical.
Behaviorism - the theory, first articulated by Gilbert Ryle, which seeks to deny dualism and posit mind and body as both physical processes. Study of the human mind is a fascinating and worthwhile field of research. New technologies and studies in the areas of human cognition and brain function are being explored at an amazing rate. Yet, with so much still not fully understood about our minds, there is always more to discover through psychological education and study.
Helping Psychology is brought to you by Argosy University. Argosy University offers a wide selection of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in a variety of psychology concentrations at 19 locations across the nation.
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