Psychology

Psychobiology

Module code: C8003
Level 4
15 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar, Practical
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

"Psychobiology" is a first year, core module that offers you an overview of the various topic-areas relevant to understanding human and non-human animal behavior from a biological and/or evolutionary perspective.

The module begins by discussing the basic anatomy of the peripheral and central nervous systems, as well as the structure and physiological function of nervous cells, including synaptic neurotransmission, hormonal actions and intracellular electrical processes. Additionally, an introduction to systems neuropsychology is given and the effects of drugs on neuronal functioning are discussed.

Brain-behaviour relations are discussed in greater detail focusing on three broad areas: First, the biological basis of emotions are considered from a hormonal and brain systems perspective. Second, essential motivated behaviors are considered by exploring both homeostatic and non-homeostatic peripheral and central mechanisms underlying drinking and eating behaviour. Third, the brain mechanisms that allow organisms to acquire, store and retrieve new information and alter their behaviours are discussed focussing on historical and recent experimental findings from studies on human and non-human learning and memory.

The final section of the module takes a more evolutionary perspective to explore how many components and aspects of human behaviour have been shaped by adaptation and selection, relying on field studies into the foundations of animal behaviour.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the major structures of the brain, neuronal morphology and physiology, neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine signalling, and understand how these relate and integrate to determine behaviour
  • Understand the major concepts and theories of motivated behaviour and the physiological and neurobiological mechanisms that mediate homeostatic and non-regulated drinking and eating (motivation)
  • Understand and evaluate the behavioural and neurobiological mechanisms involved in associative learning and memory formation, and emotional behaviour
  • Understand how the theory of evolution relates to human and animal behaviour