PS3010 - Behavioural Neuroscience
Please note: All course information (slides, timetable etc.) are available via Blackboard.
The broad aim of this course is to study the way in which behaviour is affected by pharmacological agents (including drugs, chemicals and hormones).
It will examine how drugs interact with the brain to exert their behavioural effects and explain the use of drugs as tools to understand relationships between brain and behaviour. This course will cover the major themes in psychopharmacology including the rationale for the treatment of major psychiatric disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression, schizophrenia) and neurological disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease).
This module builds upon the psychopharmacology element of PS 2014, and links naturally to options in clinical psychology and cognitive neuropsychology.
Students will have gained an understanding of how behaviour can be influenced by pharmacological agents. They will understand the underlying cause and rationale for treatment of the major psychiatric and neurological disorders. Students will have gained an insight into how drugs can be used to understand the relationship between brain and behaviour.
What is Neuroscience?
Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary study of the nervous system. Such studies investigate the structure, function, evolutionary history, development, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, informatics, computational neuroscience and pathology of the nervous system. Research in the field of neuroscience has expanded significantly since the 1970’s onwards due mainly to advances in techniques such as molecular biology, electrophysiology and imaging. Such advances have allowed scientists to understand the complex processes that occur within a single neuron. However, how neurons work together in networks to produce complex behaviours such as intelligence, cognition and emotion is still relatively poorly understood.
The nervous system is composed of a network of neurons and other supportive cells (such as glial cells). Neurons form functional circuits which are responsible for specific physiological behaviours such as learning, memory, reflexes, motor coordination etc. Thus, neuroscience can be studied at many different levels, ranging from molecular level to cellular level to systems level to cognitive level.
Why study Neuroscience as a psychologist?
Psychologists who work in the area of neuroscience specialise in biological psychology. Biological psychology is the branch of psychology that studies relationships between behaviour and the brain. For psychologists, behaviour has a very broad meaning, which includes internal events such as learning, thinking and emotion as well as the overt acts that everyone would classify as behaviour.
What is Behavioural Neuroscience?
Behavioural Neuroscience focuses on the biological basis of human behaviour. Behavioural neuroscientists study the brain in relation to behaviour, its evolution, functions, abnormalities, and repair. In behavioural neuroscience we focus on understanding the altered communication between neurons that is responsible for dramatic changes in behaviour and cognition observed in patients suffering from disorders such as anxiety, bipolar depression etc. Ultimately, we aim to understand (i) how normal brain functioning is disrupted by drugs and disease and (ii) the rationale underlying the pharmacological treatment of the main neurological disorders.
16 hours x lectures
Timetable to be confirmed prior to start of semester 2 - please see Blackboard.
All course materials are available via Blackboard.
Lecturers: Dr Claire Gibson (CG), Dr Todor Gerdjikov (TG) and Dr Andrew Young (AY).
Lecture Topics: Hormones & Behaviour (CG), Anxiety Disorders (CG), Movement Disorders; Parkinson's Disease & Huntington's Disease (CG), Age & Behaviour (CG), Drugs & Behaviour (CG), Psychostimulants (TG), Affective Disorders (AY), and Schizophrenia (AY).
2hr exam paper, students are requested to answer 2 x 1hr answers from a choice of 6 questions. However, the exam will consist of 2 sections (three essay questions per section) and students will only be permitted to answer 1 question from each section. Section A will comprise of 3 x questions based on material covered by Dr Gibson and Section B will comprise 3x questions based on material covered by Dr Young and Dr Gerdjikov.
Reading - general texts
- Leonard BE (2003) Fundamentals of Psychopharmacology (3rd ed.), Chichester, UK; J.Wiley & sons. 615.78 LEO (2nd edition also available)
- McKim WA (2000) Drugs and behavior: an introduction to behavioral pharmacology (4th ed.) Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 615.78 MAC
- Palfai T & Jankiewicz H (1997) Drugs and Human behaviour (2nded.), Madison, Wisc.; London : Brown & Benchmark.615.78 PAL
- Seligman MEP, Walker EF & Rosenhan DL (2001) Abnormal Psychology (4th ed.), New York; London; W.W. Norton, 616.89 SEL. (Previous edition, Rosenhan, D.L. and Seligman, M.E.P. (1995), 138 ROS, also suitable)
- Strange, PG (1992) Brain biochemistry and brain disorders, Oxford, OUP
A detailed and comprehensive book for background reading on many aspects of the course;
- Feldman RS, Meyer JS & Quenzer LF (1997) Principles of Neuropsychopharmacology. Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, Massachusetts. 615.78 FEL.