University of Vermont

HPBL - Training

Selected topics in Behavior, Neurobiology, and Health

Course Director: Stephen T. Higgins, PhD

Participating Faculty:  Philip A. Ades, MD,  Robert Althoff, MD, PhD, Kim Dittus, MD, PhD, Hugh P. Garavan, PhD, Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, Sarah H. Heil, PhD, John R. Hughes, MD, Gail Rose, PhD, Stacey S. Sigmon, PhD, Brian Sprague, PhD

This class will be conducted in seminar format.  Dr. Higgins will act as class director and all organizational questions should be directed to him.  Additional faculty will participate as experts in particular topic areas.  Questions regarding content or other matters having to do with a specific session should be directed to the faculty member responsible for that session. 

The seminar will focus on relationships between personal behavior and risk for chronic disease and premature death.  Unhealthy personal behaviors (e.g., cigarette smoking and other substance abuse, physical inactivity, unhealthy food choices, non-adherence with medication regimens) are now the major contributors to premature death and disease risk in the U.S. and other developed countries.  In the U.S., for example, risky personal behavior patterns contribute to approximately 40% of all premature deaths annually and substantially drive up health care costs.  The relationship between personal behavior patterns and increased mortality and morbidity is firmly established, but much remains to be learned about the mechanisms underpinning vulnerability to them and how to more effectively prevent and treat them.  This seminar will explore the problem while examining questions about mechanisms of vulnerability and efficacious prevention and treatment interventions.

This session assumes no prior familiarity with the topic of behavior, neurobiology, and health.  The intended audience is graduate students in general/experimental and clinical psychology.  Graduate students from other areas and undergraduates can participate with permission from the course director.  There is no formal text for the seminar.  Instead, assigned readings in the form of reviews and original experimental papers will be provided weekly.  Each of the faculty will lead sessions on topics on which they currently or recently conducted NIH-supported research.  Structuring the seminar in this manner will introduce students to the range of substantive, contemporary behavior and health problems, provide opportunities to see how researchers conceptualize those problems and conduct research to examine them scientifically, and provide ample opportunity to discuss in detail related scientific and clinical issues and questions. 

Grades will be based on class participation and evidence of completing assigned readings, class presentations, submission of 3 written questions per session, and attendance at all sessions.  These requirements are intended to foster a lively and interesting graduate seminar.  We fully anticipate that all who enroll with the goal of reading and understanding the material via collegial interactions will receive an A.  Further information about the seminar format will be provided during the first session. 


Lecture 1: Introduction to the topic of behavior, neurobiology, and health (Lecture 1, Reading 1a, Reading 1b, Reading 1c)

Lecture 2: Principles of behavior (Lecture 2, Reading 2a, Reading 2b, Reading 2c, Reading 2d

Lecture 3: Socioeconomic factors/health disparities (Lecture 3, Reading 3a, Reading 3b, Reading 3c

Lecture 4: Neurobiology of self-control (Lecture 4, Reading 4a, Reading 4b

Lecture 5: Behavioral genetics (Lecture 5, Reading 5a, Reading 5b

Lecture 6: Tobacco use: general population (Lecture 6, Reading 6a, Reading 6b

Lecture 7: Tobacco use: special populations (Lecture 7, Reading 7a, Reading 7b, Reading 7c

Lecture 8: Obesity: childhood (Lecture 8, Reading 8a, Reading 8b, Reading 8c

Lectures 9: Obesity: adults (Lecture 9, Reading 9a

Lecture 10: Coronary heart disease (Lecture 10, Reading 10a

Lecture 11: Problem drinking (Lecture 11, Reading 11a, Reading 11b, Reading 11c

Lecture 12: Illicit drug use: prescription opioids (Lecture 12, Reading 12a, Reading 12b, Reading 12c

Lecture 13: Illicit drug use in special populations: pregnant opioid abusers (Lecture 13, Reading 13a, Reading 13b, Reading 13c

Lecture 14: Clinical studies on physical activity/obesity and breast cancer (Lecture 14, Reading 14a, Reading 14b

Lecture 15: Epidemiological studies on physical activity and cancer (Lecture 15, Reading 15a, Reading 15b

Last modified January 11 2012 10:17 AM

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