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Psychology 628

PSYC 628: Biological Foundations of Behavior

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in psychology or permission of the instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

Examines the biological underpinnings of behavior and the role of the nervous system in mediating behavior and psychological processes in humans and other animals. Students will learn about biological approaches to the study of behavior, structure and function of the nervous system, neural bases of perception, action, cognition, and motivation, and biological contributions to disorders of behavioral and psychological functioning.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

I. Physiological manipulation and measurement
        a. Time scales in physiological studies
        b. Levels of explanation in physiological research
II. Cell structures and function
III. Neural communication
IV. Structure of the nervous system
V. Perception and movement
VI. Attention and emotion
VII. Motivation
VIII. Learning and memory
IX. Language
X. Mental disorders

Conduct of the Course

The course will be taught in a lecture-discussion format. The emphasis will be on reading original research (both classical and recent) and their integration into theoretical perspectives on the given topics.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

After successfully completing this course students will be able to:

1. Describe the basic principles of neurophysiology including the structure of neurons, and the resting membrane potential, action potential, and synaptic transmission.
2. Describe the structure of the brain and spinal cord, including the major functional systems of the brain.
3. Describe the neural processes that underlie attention and perception, actions, emotion, memory, learning and motivation.
4. Describe the major anatomical and biochemical approaches to the understanding of various clinical syndromes including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington chorea, Korsakoff’s syndrome, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, schizophrenia, and affective disorders.
5. Describe the major approaches toward an understanding of global brain function and mind brain relationships including neural networks and artificial intelligence, holonomic and various system-theoretic approaches, and discuss their practical and philosophic limitations.
6. Read and critically evaluate original research literature in physiological psychology.

Assessment Measures

1. Examinations: There will be a mid-term examination and a final
2. Review Paper. Student will write a paper reviewing representative research dealing with physiological processes associated with some behavioral or psychological process, or
3. Research Proposal. The student will review the literature dealing with more restricted research problem in physiological psychology, and design an experiment which addresses that particular problem.

Other Course Information

1. A textbook supplemented with original journal articles will constitute the reading material for the course.
2. A computer program will be used for the teaching and review of neuroanatomy will be used for the course.
3. It is expected that students will have (or be willing to acquire) basic skills in the use of the department and campus computer network including file transfer, email, and remote access to campus facilities (including the library).

Review and Approval

December 2007