This chapter discusses neurobiological approaches to studying human behavior, covering methods, scope, and assumptions. Neurobiological research seeks answers to the question: What role do neural structures and processes play in behavior? The study methods employed are retrospective, concurrent, and prospective. Retrospective methods include the use of autopsies to identify neurostructural correlates of behavioral patterns attributed to the individual and correlational studies of prison, clinic, and hospital records to identify associations between brain injuries or other trauma (e.g., birth complications) and later aggressive or criminal behavior. Concurrent methods include brain imaging or measuring changes in other physical parameters (heart rate) associable with exposure to particular cognitive or sensory stimuli. Prospective methods include animal experiments to identify the effects on behavior of organizational or activational exposure to bio- and psychoactive substances, and clinical trials in humans to ascertain physiological, psychological, and behavioral effects of such substances.
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