Biological bases of behavior: classical and contemporary issues, including introduction to nervous system, behavioral effects of drugs, chemical bases of behavioral disorders. Prerequisites: PSYS 001 or BIOL 001 or BCOR 011 or BCOR 021.
Dates: May 23 - July 1, 2022
Biopsychology, also called behavioral neuroscience, is the study of the biological basis of behavior. In this course we will examine many of the important issues in this field, including the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, synaptic transmission and the effects of drugs, perception, plasticity and the changing brain, and emotion. Because we will be covering all of this material in six weeks, we will restrict our discussion to a few examples within each of these topics, and use these examples to try to illustrate basic principles within the nervous system. In order to provide a framework to study each of these topics, each week we will consider how the basic principles of biopsychology are demonstrated in the brain systems that mediate the emotions of fear and anxiety, and what happens when we learn to be scared of something. This is certainly not the only major topic in the field, nor necessarily the best one, but there is a large history of research into fear and anxiety systems that we can draw on to learn about biopsychology. I am also asking each of you to choose a separate topic to be analyzed by the end of the course; hence, upon completion of this course, you will have considered the basic themes of biopsychology in the contexts of at least two major topics in the field.
Our primary goal is to teach you to think critically about research in the field of biopsychology, by providing you with 1) a basic knowledge foundation that will allow you to understand the basic organization of the brain and its influence on behavior, 2) exposure to the process of biopsychology, so that you understand the strengths and weakness of biopsychology research, and 3) practice thinking about and communicating concepts in biopsychology.
There are six learning modules corresponding to the six weeks of class. Quizzes, Assignments and Journal Entries are described and submitted in the "Learning Modules" section of the website. Discussion posts are to be posted in the "Discussion Board" section of the website. -Quizzes are open-book (also open-note and open-internet) and will be either 5 or 10 short answer questions, depending on the week. -Assignments are typically 5 short essay questions that can each be answered in one or two paragraphs. -Journal assignments are designed to allow students to think about their final review paper and receive feedback on their ideas throughout the course. The entries can be informal (i.e. "bullet points"); however, they should communicate that you are making an honest effort to complete the assignment. In addition, you will be required to submit a 10-12 page review of a different topic in biopsychology (see below). This paper will be worth 35 points; however, I am willing to award up to 5 extra credit points for particularly thoughtful and thorough reviews.
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