Biological Foundations of Behavior-PSY 140

Biological Foundations of Behavior

Imagine that you are taking a huge bite of your favorite kind of pizza!  Describe, in detail, the role that each part of the brain plays in this simple act.  Be sure to specifically name each part of the brain and its function, in relation to eating the slice of pizza.


Biological Foundations of Behavior

Different parts of the brain play different roles while chewing food. Unlike in traditional period where eating was just a physiological necessity, eating is currently associated with various pleasures such as taste of the food, touch, smell and aroma. Food is also linked to particular emotions and behaviors in the modern society. Complex brain functions are associated with eating as explained below.

How parts of the brain play different roles while chewing food

1.Amygdala region 

The amygdala region of the brain is one of the parts involved while taking a bite of pizza. The amygdala region is part of the limbic system. The limbic system is involved in the control of emotions and basic physiological motives such as food and sex (Chen & Engelen, 2012). While taking a pizza, the amygdala detects the intensity of flavor of the pizza and stimulates the desire to have more bites of pizza. The limbic system also comprises of hypothalamus gland that regulates basic functions such as hunger, thirst, body temperature, and other bodily functions. Feelings of hunger drives an individual to seek food.

2.Cerebral cortex 

The cerebral cortex is another important part of the brain that is involved while taking a bite of pizza. The cerebral cortex is primarily involved in learning and thinking. The cerebral cortex is comprised of different regions which control various functions while eating (Feher, 2012). The orbitofrontal cortex identifies how pleasant the pizza is and hence creates an urge to continue taking bites. The frontal lobe of the cortex is also involved in muscle movements, speaking, and other functions. The frontal lobe is responsible for the movement of body parts or muscles. In other words, it controls the voluntary body movements. This is important especially in chewing the pizza where the jaw muscles move voluntarily to enable breakdown the food into smaller pieces that can easily be digested.

Related: Analysis of a Profiling Case


The brainstems is another critical part of the brain that is involved while an individual is taking food.  It is centrally located. The brainstem is responsible for controlling involuntary body responses such as reflexes such as muscle movements, breathing, movement of eyelids, cardiac function, and others. In particular, the brainstem is responsible for the involuntary movement of the pharyngeal and esophageal during swallowing of food. Swallowing of food comprise of both voluntary and involuntary muscle movements. The voluntary component of swallowing occurs during the preparation to swallow. The medulla of the brainstem controls salivation. When one takes food in the mouth, the salivary glands are stimulated to produce more saliva (Feher, 2012).

4.Endocrine system

The endocrine system is composed of various glands which secrete hormones that regulate various processes in the food digestion process. The endocrine system is responsible for the production and release of hormones that alter the digestive process. For instance, the hormones may start, slow, stop, or quicken the process of digestion.


Another important part which comes into play when taking pizza is the cerebellum. Cerebellum is part of the brainstem. Cerebellum is responsible for the control of voluntary movement and also enhancing movement. During chewing of the pizza, cerebellum plays a crucial role by coordinating the movement of various parts such as the tongue and jaws. This helps to avoid biting one’s tongue. This is achieved through the interaction of cerebellum and nerve endings known as proprioceptors. The proprioceptors enables an individual to know the tongue’s position while chewing. It also helps the tongue to move food in different parts of the mouth (Chen & Engelen, 2012). This greatly helps in chewing of the food.


Chen, J., & Engelen, L. (2012). Food oral processing: Fundamentals of eating and sensory          perception. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell.

Feher, J. J. (2012). Quantitative human physiology: An introduction. Amsterdam :             Elsevier/Academic Press