Psychology 121: Biological Psychology

Professor William Falls

John Dewey Hall 206

william.falls@uvm.edu

 

 

Jamie Fox (james.h.fox@uvm.edu)

Office hours - M 10:00 - 12:00 and W 1:00 - 3:00

 

Psychology 121 explores the biological bases of behavior.  We will examine both classical and contemporary issues in behavioral neuroscience, including introduction to nervous system, physiological and behavioral effects of drugs, biological theories of behavioral disorders and the biological basis of learning, memory, emotion and stress. 

 

The goals of the course are to provide students with foundational knowledge in behavioral neuroscience which includes contemporary theoretical issues and research methods, to encourage students to think now, and into the future, about the role of the nervous system in all psychological processes, to begin to develop the ability to read and interpret original research articles in behavioral neuroscience and to practice writing skills.

 

Regular attendance at lectures is required.  Textbook reading assignments are meant to provide additional breadth and background for the material discussed in lecture.  It is assumed that the assigned readings will be completed before class.

 

Your comprehension of the lecture and reading materials will be assessed by 3 exams and a final exam.  Exams will be in multiple choice format.  Together they will comprise 70% of the final grade. 

 

The final exam will be given on Friday May 9th at 3:30.  This is the only time the final exam will be given.  Exemptions from taking the exam at the scheduled time will only be granted under college and university exceptions (e.g., no more than three exams in one day), or to students who have serious illness or family emergencies.  Therefore, please plan accordingly.

 

One goal of the course is to build foundational knowledge in behavioral neuroscience, including contemporary theoretical issues and research methods.  While we will discuss the results of many research studies, we will also read and discuss several original research articles in order to give you a fuller appreciation for the theoretical issues and research methods.  You will be required to read each article and to answer summary questions on the article or to write a brief (no more than one page) narrative summarizing the article.  The articles will be available via WebCT and will be announced in class and on WebCT.   Grades on summary papers and quizzes will comprise 15% of your final grade.  Grading rubrics will be provided at the time the assignment is given.

 

Another goal of the course is to encourage students to think now, and into the future, about the role of nervous system in all psychological processes.  To encourage such broader thinking, each student will be required to discuss an example of “biopsychology in the media” (movies, television, music, magazines, newsprint, etc).  This brief term paper will discuss and critique an example of biopsychology in the media with reference to original scholarly research articles on the topic.  The Media Watch paper will comprise 15% of the final grade and is due on April 25th, 2008.  A grading rubric for the Media Watch paper will be provided at least one month in advance of this due date.

 

Pinel, J. (2007). Basics of Biopsychology.  Allyn & Bacon.

 

Your final letter grade will be comprised of the following percentages:                          Letter Grades are awarded as follows:

Mid Terms (3 each @ 15%)                          45%                                     A            90 to 100%

Final Exam (5/9/2008 @3:30)                      25%                                     B            80 to 89%

Summaries/Quizzes                                        15%                                     C            70 to 79%

Media Watch Paper (due 4/25/2008)           15%                                     D            60 to 69%

                                                                                                                        F             < 60%

Students are advised to review the policy on Academic Honesty as found at: http://www.uvm.edu/cses/code_ai.html

 

 

 

 

Lecture Topics and Schedule

(note: topics and topic schedule are subject to change, exam dates will not change) 

 

Week

Date

Topic

1

1/14

1/16

1/18

Course Overview and Introduction

Introduction to Biopsychology

Introduction to Biopsychology

2

1/21

1/23

1/25

Martin Luther King Holiday - no lecture

Methods in Biopsychology

Methods in Biopsychology

3

1/28

1/30

2/1

Animals in Research

Structure of the Nervous System

Structure of the Nervous System

4

2/4

2/6

2/8

Neurological Disorders

Neurological Disorders

EXAM 1

5

2/11

2/13

2/15

Communication in the Nervous System

Communication in the Nervous System

Communication in the Nervous System

6

2/18

2/20

2/22

Presidents Day – no lecture

Drugs (Psychopharmacology)

Drugs (Psychopharmacology)

7

2/25

2/27

2/29

Drugs (Psychopharmacology)

Drugs (Psychopharmacology)

EXAM 2

8

3/3

3/5

3/7

no lecture

Stress

Stress

9

3/10

3/12

3/14

 

 

Spring Recess

11

3/24

3/26

3/28

Anxiety and Depression

Learning and Memory

 

Learning and Memory

12

3/31

4/2

4/4

Learning and Memory

Learning and Memory

EXAM 3

13

4/7

4/9

4/11

Sensation and Perception

 

Sensation and Perception

 

Sensation and Perception

14

4/14

4/16

4/18

Sexual Behavior

 

Sexual Behavior

Sexual Behavior

15

4/21

4/23

4/25 

Hunger

Hunger

Hunger – Media Watch Paper Due

16

4/28

 

4/30 

5/9 

TBA

 

TBA

 

FINAL EXAM - 3:30 PM