Introductory Psychobiology [Psyc 030]


The topics of psychobiology are prodigious in number, ranging from theories of evolution to the function of a single cell within the nervous system. Our tour will begin with an in depth discussion of evolution, including the mechanisms, the machinery (genes), and the modulators (social interaction). From there we will delve into the numerous biological systems (e.g., endocrine, sensory, motor, etc...) that have been shaped by these forces. Finally, we will investigate the functional consequences of all of these players with discussions of development, homeostasis, communication, learning and memory and psychological disorders. The shear volume of information and breadth of topics will challenge and perhaps overwhelm you at times, but hang in the time we finish; you will possess a solid foundation in biological psychology and will find yourself prepared for an array of more advanced courses in both psychology, biology, and many other health-related fields.

The goal of this course is to facilitate a basic understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying behavior. By the end of the course, you should minimally have a basic understanding of

  • Natural Selection and its potential contribution to animal behavior.
  • The function of genes and their relationship to behavior.
  • The electrical and chemical properties of neurons
  • The general principles and organization of sensory-motor systems.
  • Exemplar cognitive systems (e.g., memory) and related psychopathology (e.g., Alzheimer's)

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