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

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

You begin by discussing the basic anatomy of the peripheral- and central nervous systems (brain and spinal cord), as well as the structure and physiological function of nervous cells (neurons), including synaptic neurotransmission, hormonal actions, and intracellular electrical processes.

Additionally, you are given an introduction to systems neuropsychology and the effects of drugs on neuronal functioning are discussed.

Next, you discuss brain-behaviour relations in greater detail focusing on three broad topic areas:

  • you consider the biological basis of emotions, from a hormonal- and brain systems perspective
  • you consider essential motivated behaviours, by exploring both homeostatic and non-homeostatic peripheral and central mechanisms underlying drinking and eating behaviour
  • you discuss the brain mechanisms that allow organisms to acquire, store and retrieve new information and alter their behaviours, focussing on historical and recent experimental findings from studies on human- and non-human learning & memory.

In the final section of this module, you take a more evolutionary perspective, exploring 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

  • Know how the major structures of the brain, neuronal morphology and physiology, neurotransmitter- and neuroendocrine signaling, and 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).
  • Describe the behavioural and neurobiological mechanisms involved in associative learning & memory formation, and emotional behaviour.
  • Understand how the theory of evolution relates to human and animal behaviour.