Division 6 members are devoted to studying the biology of behavior. Their focus is on behavior and its relation to perception, learning, memory, cognition, motivation, and emotion. Behavioral neuroscientists study the brain in relation to behavior, its evolution, functions, abnormalities, and repair, as well as its interactions with the immune system, cardiovascular system, and energy regulation systems. Comparative psychologists study the behavior of humans and other animals, with a special eye on similarities and differences that may shed light on evolutionary and developmental processes.
Established in 1944, when APA initiated its divisional structure, Division 6, using the name "Physiological Psychology and Comparative Psychology", was among the original divisions included in APA's reorganization. The first three presidents were Donald G. Marquis, Donald B. Lindsley, and Clifford T. Morgan. Among the many distinguished earlier psychologists elected president of Division 6 were Frank Beach, Brenda Milner, Harry Harlow, James Olds, and Frances Graham. Our participation in the annual meetings and contributions to journals has been consistently high. Current members remain dedicated to enhancing knowledge of the nervous system and its mediation of behavior across species. The forums for achieving this commitment are meetings, publications, and involvement with APA's Science Directorate and Governing Board.
A comprehensive history of Division 6 has been written by Don Dewsbury:
Dewsbury, D.A. (1996). A History of Division 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) (PDF, 408KB): Now you see it, now you don't, now you see it. In D.A. Dewsbury (Ed.) Unification through division: Histories of the divisions of the American Psychological Association. pp. 41-65. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.