• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss biological explanations of schizophrenia

Extracts from this document...


'Research into schizophrenia shows that there is a major genetic component but the fact that concordance rates between identical twins is never 100% means that there must be environmental contributions.' Discuss biological explanations of schizophrenia. (30 marks) Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder involving the loss of contact with reality and a range of symptoms. There is considerable evidence that genetic factors are involved. This view considers that certain individuals possess certain genes which predispose them to schizophrenia. This means that it is inherited and we would expect to find that relatives have similar chances of developing the disorder. ...read more.


in monozygotic twins than in dizygotic. However if schizophrenia was solely caused by genes then we would expect a 100% concordance in monozygotic twins. Since this is not found then other factors must play a part. Mz twin studies have the advantage of controlling for genetics but the disadvantage of not controlling for environment. One way to get around this is to study mz twins that were raised apart. Twin studies show similar concordance rates even when they have been reared apart, however the samples use din these studies are usually very small and family problems may have been the reason for separation. ...read more.


Research on amphetamines supports this because they increase the dopamine levels and have been found to worsen schizophrenic symptoms. One study found that rats which had been given amphetamines displayed schizophrenic-type behaviour, though there is no reason to believe that humans react the same way as rats. It has also been found that those drugs that reduce dopamine (antipsychotic drugs). Also reduce schizophrenic symptoms. However, this tends to be correlational and we can't know if dopamine levels cause schizophrenia or schizophrenia causes high dopamine levels. MRI scans have found that schizophrenics have enlarged ventricles in their brains. Post-mortems have found that the brains of schizophrenics are lighter. This could reflect loss of cells in the brain. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

Everything written here is accurate and nicely presented, with strong evidence to support the ideas proposed by the candidate and a clear indication of high levels of research and revision conducted in order to fortify the answers with the best ...

Read full review

Response to the question

Everything written here is accurate and nicely presented, with strong evidence to support the ideas proposed by the candidate and a clear indication of high levels of research and revision conducted in order to fortify the answers with the best points and analysis possible. My only quandary is that it's a little on the short side for an answer expecting 30 marks. Whilst I'm unsure of the mark scheme, the question states plural "explanations" of schizophrenia, and so the candidate has been asked for two. The candidate provides two, though it is unclear whether one stems from the other as an extension of one idea or whether the candidate intends for genetic inter-generational transmission and dopamine levels to be considered as two different biological explanations. Where I would advise the candidate here is to provide a very clearly separate theory, such as a theory of biological intervention e.g. - a medical procedure on the brain that may have caused some severe mental side-effects, leading to schizophrenic tendencies due to accidental damage to the pre-frontal cortices during operation, or perhaps the disorder could develop as a side-effect of pharmaceutical drug therapy to cure another disorder. These two ideas would've helped the answer not only become naturally longer, but also feel like the candidate was covering a broader range of biological explanations to the disorder.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is excellent. Everything written is clear, precise and well-presented with a good knowledge of the psychology of schizophrenia and how biology can bring the disorder about. The information is accurate and to the point, with clear citations of studies that help provide the candidate with empirical evidence for their ideas. Only minor improvements to the analysis present can be made, such as nailing down the issues with studies of MZ twins that have been raised apart. The candidate goes halfway, realising the potential difficulties due to family issues and extremely low numbers of samples that fit the criteria, but if they mentioned how, specifically, ethical issues arise and which ones cause the most trouble to psychologists then this would really solidify the point here. Other than that, the answer is fine enough, but to make the alterations outlined above in Response to the Question would guarantee the A grade this candidate is capable of.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is good throughout. There is a good control shown over the handling of psychological terminology and Standard English. There is no cause for concern with regard to the candidate's spelling, punctuation or grammar.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 04/09/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Behavioural Study of Obedience - Stanley Milgram

    5 star(s)

    * How did the prods affect the results? Consider alternative prods. The dependent measure in this experiment is the maximum voltage the subject will go to before walking out, with a maximum voltage of 450 volts recorded for obedient subjects.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the main approaches - Biological and Behaviourist, biological and cognitive, ...

    4 star(s)

    The behaviourist approach has also been applied in the real world in the treatment of phobias and education. Classical conditioning has been applied to systematic desensitisation, and this has been helpful in helping people deal with phobias. The principles of operant conditioning have been applied in education, helping to underlie successful teaching.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast the five main perspectives in psychology

    3 star(s)

    Their insistence that all learning can be accounted for in terms of law-governed processes like classical and operant conditioning, reflects a nomological approach to studying human behaviour (although behaviourists never ignore individual differences, since every person?s history of learning is unique).

  2. Describe and Evaluate Explanations of Depression. Refer to Issues Such as Those Raised in ...

    they are treated as the same person, and so have the same experiences. This does not occur so frequently with DZ twins, and so they would share fewer experiences in common. These differences in shared environments and experiences may account for the differences in rates of concordance, so that genes are not actually the causal factor.

  1. Schizophrenia. This essay shall discuss the various theoretical causes of schizophrenia including; biological explanations ...

    Furthermore, if genes were the sole cause of schizophrenia, it would not explain why the greater majority, (of around two thirds) of those with schizophrenia have no close relatives with the disorder. Biochemical factors that may cause schizophrenia include the 'dopamine hypothesis'.

  2. The Gestalt Approach to Psychology

    Premature closure feels better than leaving the gestalt open, but the original need still unconsciously demands satisfaction. The result is that experience, physiology and behaviour become totally preoccupied with resolving the unfinished business. Awareness of the present situation is now hindered, making it difficult to make contact and meet current needs.

  1. Outline and Evaluate One Biological and One Psychological Explanation of Schizophrenia

    The role of dopamine has been noted; however these investigations cannot prove whether the presence of dopamine is a cause or a symptom of the disorder. In both cases higher levels of the neurotransmitter would be observed; therefore it would be important to measure the levels of a patient before

  2. Consider the Problems Faced by Psychologists in the Definition of Abnormality

    in Britain not choosing to sit next to a stranger on an otherwise empty bus, not greeting people by kissing both cheeks). If a person goes out of the boundaries of these social norms by violating them (either the implicit or explicit rules)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work