Syllabus - Spring 2004

PSYC 243
Brain and Behavior

Dr. David Robbins
Office: Phillips 52B
Phone: 3800-1

Required Text: Biopsychology 5th Edition, 2003 by Pinel

Websites to explore -

Course Objectives: This course will emphasize the molar aspects of human neuroscience particularly as they relate to how the brain's normal and abnormal functioning affect human experience and behaivor. Particular emphasis will be placed on those aspects of neuroanatomy and physiology, which directly influence human language, thought, and learning.

Reading Assignment
Exam Date
Chapter 1
Biopsychology as a Neuroscience
What is the relationship between Biopsychology other disciplines of neuroscience? Four divisions of Biopsychology? What is bad science, and how do you spot it? Observational methods to study the unobservable.
January 14
Chapter 2
Evolution, Genetics, and Development
Theories of evolution, nature - nurture issue in reference to behavior, human evolution - behavior genetics
January 16
Chapter 3
Anatomy of the Nervous System
General layout of the nervous system, neuroanatomical directions and planes, neurons and glia: the building blocks, discovering what is connected to what.
January 19
Chapter 8
The Sensorimotor System
The motor system, its structure and control
January 26
Chapter 9

Development of the Nervous System
How does the nervous system develop? The gene-experience interaction influence on the phases of neural proliferation, migration, and aggregation

January 26
Quiz # 1
Chapters 1-3, 9
February 4
Chapter 4
Neural Transmission and Synaptic Transmission
The resting potential, action potential, postsynaptic potential; their generation, location, transmission and consequence.
February 6
Chapter 15
Drug Abuse and Reward Circuits in the Brain
Basic principle of drug action, five commonly abused drugs, biopsychological theories of addiction and reward.
February 11
Chapter 5
Research Methods of Biopsychology
Methods of visualizing human brain damage, recording psychophysiological activity, invasive physiological and pharamcological methods including neuropsychological testing.
February 18
Quiz # 2
Chapters 4, 5, 15
February 23
Chapter 6
The Visual System
What are the anatomical, neurochemical and neurophysiological aspects of visual percpetion
February 25
Chapter 7
Mechanisms of Perception, Conscious Awareness and Attention
Beyond the visual system what is the hierarchical organization that leads one to make a distinction between our senses and our perceptions?
March 1
Chapters 1-9, 15
March 5
Chapter 11
Hormones and Sex
The neuroendocrine system, effects of gonadal hormones on adults, hormones and sexual development
March 29
Chapter 12
Hunger, Eating and Health
The early theories, peripheral mechanisms, dual-center control in the brain, set-point model. Modern era of research on eating and metabolic implications
March 19
Chapter 12
Sleep, Dreaming, and Circadian Rhythms
The physiological and behavioral correlates of sleep. Why do we sleep? Recuperative and circadian theories, circadian sleep cycles, REM sleep and dreaming, effects of sleep deprivation, recuperation of circadian models combined, sleep disorders, physiological and neurochemical bases of sleep, hypnotic and antihypnotic drugs.
March 15
Quiz # 3
Chapters 12-14
March 29
Chapter 10

Brain Damage and Neuroplasticity
Causes of brain damage, neuropsychological diseases, animal models of human neurophysological disease

March 31
Chapter 11
Learning, Memory and Amnesia
Amnesic effects in case of H.M. Amnesia of Alzheimer's disease, amnesia of Korsakoff's disease, amnesia after closed-head injury, animal models of brain-damaged-produced amnesia
April 5
Chapter 16
Lateralization, Language, and the Split Brain
Lateralization of function, cortical localization of language, lateralization of function in split-brain patients
April 12
Quiz # 4
Chapters 10, 11, 16
April 16
Chapter 17
Biopsychology of Emotion, Stress and Health
Interaction between stress and health
April 19
Chapter 17
The Biopsychology of Emotions and Mental Illness
Mechanisms of aggressive and defensive behaviors, physiological model of anxiety, dopamine theory of schizophrenia, monoamine theory of depression, and treatments: psychosurgery vs. psychopharmacology vs. psychotherapy
April 23
Final Exam
Comprehensive (Chapters 1-6, 9-17)
Exam Week



Students are expected to attend class on a regular basis and to contribute to class discussions. Unexcused absences will be viewed as a sign of little interest and involvement in the course and could adversely affect grade decisions. Optional help sessions will be announced in class and all students experiencing difficulties or wishing additional instruction are strongly encouraged to attend.


All examinations must be taken on the date and time scheduled. Students who miss a scheduled examination because of illness or other unavoidable cause MUST NOTIFY the instructor PRIOR to the time and date of the examination. Students who have an excused absence must be prepared to take a written or oral makeup examination on the next scheduled class period. A later makeup exam will be given only in cases of prolonged, documented illness. Another exam on the same date, lack of preparedness, or nonacademic conflicts do NOT constitute a defensible reason for postponement of an examination. If a student does have an outside commitment which conflicts with the scheduled examination he/she may petition for the exam to be given PRIOR to the normally scheduled time.


Your grade on examinations along with your answer sheets (including matching and essays) will normally be returned to you on the next class day after the examination. The multiple choice question portion of the examination, however, will not be returned to you. Copies of these test questions are available to you for your perusal in the department office between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30 up until the last class day. You may not copy these test questions although you may take notes summarizing the main points being tested. Students are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructor to discuss their performance.


The web site for your textbook ( ) includes an online study guide that includes among other options on-line, multiple choice quizzes for each of the textbook chapters. Additional points on in-class quizzes can be earned by completing these excercises. To receive bonus points from these exercises you must complete this assignment with a score of 70% or better and have these results electronically forwarded to me prior to the time of the scheduled in-class quiz. These online excercises can be a significant study aid as you prepare for in-class exams.


Our world is full of examples of the advances being made in the field of neuroscience. Stories describing marvelous advances especially in the biomedical fields can be found in almost any publication - our daily newspapers and weekly magazines. Newspapers like the New York Times often devote space on a weekly basis to these types of medical advances. You will be assigned a time (see below for date corresponding to the first initial of your last name) to review the popular press for articles relevant to this course. Select one article and summarize it (400 –600 words) for distribution to the rest of the class. Your summary, due by the next Friday following your assigned period, will be uploaded to the course website for the rest of the class to read. Questions about these articles will appear on both the midterm and final exams.


The final grade for this course will be determined from the mathematical average of performance on the following:

4 Quizzes @ 10 %
40 %
1 Midterm Exam
25 %
Final Examination
30 %
News Article Critique
5 %
100 %