Send More Info
Apply Now
Classroom Login
Call Now
Call Now 855-300-1469

PSY 3423 Physiological Psychology


Course Description

This course studies the biological bases of human behavior, including in-depth treatment of nervous system anatomy and physiology and the biological concepts underlying emotion, motivation, learning, and memory.

Course Objectives

Upon completing this course, students will be able to

  • Categorize the major biological explanations of behavior
  • Discuss basic genetic and evolutionary principles
  • Discuss the cellular features of neurons
  • Distinguish among the various neurons
  • Distinguish between neurons and glia
  • Discuss the nerve impulse in all its complexity
  • Distinguish among the major types of neurotransmitters and their effects
  • Explain the usual mechanism of action of commonly abused drugs
  • Identify the functions, locations, and organization of the two main branches of the autonomic nervous system
  • Discuss the locations and functions of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex
  • Describe the process by which cones produce perceived color
  • Discuss the functions of endogenous rhythms
  • Describe the characteristics of the stages of sleep
  • Describe the various sleep disorders, possible causes, and treatments
  • Identify the proposed functions of sleep and dreams
  • Discuss the theories and biology of emotion
  • Describe the characteristics of short-term, long-term, and working memory
  • Identify the brain mechanisms of language
  • Describe the symptoms, genetic and environmental contributions and the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia

Week 1


Lecture: Introduction and Course Overview
Lecture: Information Relating to Biopsychology, Genetics, and Evolution

Outcomes

  • Discuss information relating to biopsychology, genetics, and evolution
  • Provide definitions
  • Categorize the major biological explanations of behavior
  • Introduce basic genetic principles
  • Explain the main sources of genetic variability
  • Discuss the concept of heritability
  • Introduce the basic concept of evolution, including a definition
  • Discuss the misconceptions of evolution
  • Discuss the expression of a gene in relation to other genes and the environment

Week 2


Lecture: Cellular Features of Neurons: Structure of a Neuron – Part 1
Lecture: Cellular Features of Neurons: Structure of a Neuron – Part 2

Outcomes

  • Discuss the cellular features that neurons have in common with other cells
  • Discuss the structure and function of the soma, axon, and dendrites
  • Distinguish among the various neurons
  • Distinguish between neurons and glia
  • Explore the function of the blood-brain barrier
  • Dissect the nerve impulse
  • Explain the Na/K pump
  • Discuss resting and action potentials
  • Distinguish between the absolute and the relative refractory periods
  • Review the function of myelin and salutatory conduction
  • Describe the mechanisms underlying the excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials
  • Discuss major types of neurotransmitters
  • Describe the processes of transport, release, and diffusion of neurotransmitters
  • Explain the differences between ionotropic and metabotropic effects of neurotransmitters
  • Describe the similarities and differences between neurotransmitters and hormones
  • Explain the process of inactivation of neurotransmitters
  • Explain the difference between agonists, antagonists, and mixed agonist-antagonists for a receptor
  • Explain the common mechanism of action of nearly all abused drugs
  • Discuss the relationship of the prefrontal cortex to the nucleus accumbens in the facilitation of reinforcing experiences
  • Describe the physiological effects of alcohol and the two types of alcoholism

Week 3


Lecture: The Structure of the Vertebrate Nervous System

Outcomes

  • Describe the structure of the spinal cord
  • Identify the functions, locations, and organization of the two main branches of the autonomic nervous system
  • Discuss the three main divisions of the hindbrain and their shared functions
  • Identify the two divisions of the midbrain and the major structures in each
  • Identify the main structures and functions of the diencephalon, the limbic system, the basal ganglia, and the basal forebrain
  • Discuss the locations and functions of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex
  • Describe the uses of and principles underlying the techniques of computerized axial tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, positron emission tomography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Identify the major ways of inactivating parts of the brain, temporarily or permanently, and of stimulating parts of the brain
  • Describe the problems of interpretation of the effects of lesions

Week 4


Lecture: Visual Coding and Visual Pathways

Outcomes

  • Describe the parts of the eye and its connections to the brain
  • Describe the process by which three types of cones, and the neurons they connect with, produce perceived color
  • Explain the concept of receptive fields
  • Discuss the inputs to the dorsal and ventral streams of cortical processing and what each pathway analyzes
  • Describe the contributions of areas V1, V2, and inferior temporal cortex to shape perception

Week 5


Lecture: Wakefulness and Sleep
Lecture: The Brain Mechanisms of Sleep
Lecture: The Functions of Sleep and Dreams

Outcomes

  • Discuss the functions of endogenous rhythms and our difficulty with altered rhythms
  • Describe the anatomical location of the biological clock and its biochemical and hormonal signals
  • Explain how light can reset the biological clock
  • Describe the characteristics of the stages of slow-wave and REM sleep
  • Discuss the brain areas and neurotransmitters that promote wakefulness, slow-wave sleep and REM sleep
  • Describe the various sleep disorders, their possible causes, and their treatments
  • Identify the proposed functions of sleep and dreams

Week 6


Lecture: Emotions and the Brain – Part 1
Lecture: Emotions and the Brain – Part 2

Outcomes

  • Discuss the theories of emotion
  • Describe the influences of the autonomic nervous system on emotions
  • Discuss the effects of damage or inactivation of cortical structures and of the right vs. left hemisphere on emotional responsiveness
  • Explain the role of emotions in decision making and the brain areas that promote wise decision making
  • Describe the genetic, environmental, and hormonal contributions to aggressiveness
  • Identify the ways in which the amygdala promotes fear and anxiety
  • Discuss the components and functions of the immune system and the effects of brief or prolonged stressors on immune function
  • Explain post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and describe the relation between size of hippocampus, cortisol levels, and vulnerability to PTSD

Week 7


Lecture: Biology of Learning and Memory
Lecture: Cognitive Functions

Outcomes

  • Explain the differences between classical and operant conditioning and the terms used in each
  • Describe Lashley’s search for the engram and his conclusions and why Richard Thompson’s search led him to arrive at a different conclusion
  • Describe the characteristics of short-term, long-term, and working memory
  • Explain the theories of the function of the hippocampus in declarative memory, spatial memory, context learning, and consolidation
  • Describe the symptoms and discuss the causes of Korsakoff’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Discuss brain areas that contribute to various aspects of memory
  • Describe the functions of the right and left hemispheres
  • Explore animal language as compared to human language
  • Discuss the two categories of theories that attempt to explain the human ability to learn language more easily than other species
  • Review the evidence with regard to a sensitive period for learning language
  • Examine the brain mechanisms of language, including Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas
  • Describe the symptoms and causes of Broca’s aphasia and Wernicke’s aphasia
  • Examine the studies of people with brain damage
  • Examine the relationship of handedness and language dominance to the anatomical differences between the hemispheres
  • Explain the differences in the brain of those who are bilingual compared with those who are not

Week 8


Lecture: Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia – Part 1
Lecture: Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia – Part 2
Lecture: Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia – Part 3

Outcomes

  • Describe the symptoms of depression and the evidence for a genetic contribution
  • Discuss the possible roles of genetics, stress, hormones, and abnormalities of hemispheric dominance, and viruses in the onset or worsening of depression
  • Describe the short-term and long-term mechanisms of action of antidepressant drugs
  • Describe the possible mechanisms of action and the advantages and disadvantages of psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and altered sleep patterns
  • Examine the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the possible contributions of genetics
  • Explore the mechanisms of action of drugs used to treat bipolar disorder
  • Describe seasonal affective disorder and treatment
  • Describe negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Describe the demographic factors related to schizophrenia
  • Examine the evidence for a genetic contribution to schizophrenia
  • Examine the evidence for the neurodevelopmental hypothesis
  • Discuss the evidence for and against the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia
  • Describe the evidence for the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia
  • Explore the effects of antipsychotic drugs and the mechanisms of action of the newer drugs

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. May 2012