Course Offerings | Psychobiology

Division of Science and Mathematics

Brian Cusato (chair), Melissa Burns-Cusato, Stephanie Fabritius, Mykol Hamilton, KatieAnn Skogsberg, Brian Storz; students: Laura Brach, Emily Gregory

The Psychobiology Program assists students as they develop a thorough understanding and integration of key ideas, works, persons, events, and issues within the disciplines of psychology and biology. Students enhance their understanding of scientific psychobiology by developing their research skills in a variety of settings ranging from laboratory to independent research projects conducted in natural or controlled environments. In addition, students enrich their understanding of applied psychobiology through internships and course work. Finally, students strengthen and diversify their critical and creative thinking skills and their multidimensional communication skills in each of the above contexts.

The Psychobiology Program seeks to provide students with a thorough understanding of the biological bases of behavior, particularly neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuro-pharmacology. Second, the program seeks to provide students with effective research skills and experience in the critical analysis of research. Finally, the program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the scientific enterprise as undergraduates through their own research.

The program provides students with a fine background for advanced training and work in both applied and scientific areas.

Requirements for the Major

BIO 110, PSY 110, CHE 131or 135;
PYB 210;
MAT 130;
BMB 210 or BIO 210 or BIO 225 or PSY 220;
PYB 310, 320;
Two additional PYB courses numbered 300 or higher;
One of PSY 310
or 320;
One of BMB 210*, BIO 210*, BIO 225*, BIO 320, BIO 370 (* if not used above).
Completion of senior tests as determined by the psychobiology program

NOTE: BIO 110, PSY 110, PYB 210, and MAT 130 should be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
A double major with Psychology is not permitted.

Requirements for the Minor

MAT 130;
PSY 110;
PYB 210, or PSY 210 and an additional PYB course numbered 300 or higher;
Four additional courses selected from among the following:
A. A maximum of two: BMB 210, BIO 210, BIO 225, PSY 220, PSY 380;
B. PYB courses numbered above 300.

Psychobiology Courses

PYB 210 Experimental Psychobiology (four credit hours)
A general introduction to research design and methodology employed in contemporary psychobiology. Emphasis is placed on the ethical and theoretical issues involved in conducting psychobiological research with human and nonhuman subjects. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: BIO 110 or PSY 110 or
NSC 120. MAT 130 or the equivalent is strongly recommended. Not open to students with credit for PSY 210.

PYB 250 Introduction to Research (one credit hour)
A course intended to provide freshmen and sophomores with an opportunity to engage in research under the close supervision of faculty. Students gain the experience needed to successfully conduct independent research projects in PSY/PYB 350 and 351. Offered on a pass-unsatisfactory basis only. Prerequisite: By invitation.

PYB 310 General and Comparative Animal Physiology (four credit hours)
A study of the integrative function of animal organ systems with emphasis on the vertebrates. Adaptive physiological responses of organisms to environmental change is also considered. Prerequisite: BIO 110 or NSC 120; PSY 110 and BMB 210 are recommended. (Also listed as BIO 350.)

PYB 320 Physiological Psychology (four credit hours)
An investigation of the physiologic correlates of behavior, including neuroanatomy and neurophysiology as they relate to such areas as learning, memory, perception, motivation, and cognition. Laboratory experience is required. Prerequisite:
PSY 110, and BIO 110 or NSC 120.

PYB 330 Animal Behavior
An examination of behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Behavior is studied as a product and a means of adaptation to ecological conditions. Emphasis is given to predatory action; predatory defense; foraging; and social behavior which includes sex, aggression, and communication. Consideration is also given to the application of ethological principles in the study of human behavior. Prerequisite:
PSY 110, and BIO 110 or NSC 120. BIO 225, PYB 210, and PSY 220 are recommended.

PYB 335 Behavioral Ecology: Avian Reproductive Strategies
An exploration of the reproductive strategies employed by birds, including studies of territoriality, courtship, mating success, sexual selection, mating systems, parental care patterns, alternative reproductive strategies, and cooperative breeding. These topics will be placed in an evolutionary context. How do different reproductive behaviors evolve? Why do some reproductive behaviors work in some environments but not in others? How does the distribution of resources influence reproductive behavior? In order to understand some of these avian behaviors, we will learn some special adaptations and physiology/morphology of the class: Aves. And to put this into a broader context, we will occassionally compare avian behavior to that observed in other taxonomic groups. In our investigations, we will utilize observation, manipulative experiments, game theory and optimization models. We will call upon the disciplines of ecology, evolution, physiology, developmental biology, and genetics. Students completing this course will come away with an understanding of how an avian behavioral ecologist goes about asking questions and designing experiments. Prerequisite: BIO 110 and BIO 210. (Also listed as BIO 371.)

PYB 350 Advanced Research Topics (four credit hours)
Students meet in seminar format to discuss key problems of effective experimental research. Students also conduct a research project supervised by department faculty on an individual basis. Research projects and seminar meetings are extended over two long terms. Prerequisite: PSY 210 and permission of the instructor.

PYB 351 Advanced Research Topics
Students meet in seminar format to discuss key problems of effective experimental research. Students also conduct a research project supervised by department faculty on an individual basis. Research projects must be completed within one long term. Prerequisite: PSY 210 and permission of the instructor.

PYB 360 Drugs, Brain, and Behavior

An exploration of psychopharmacology. The course covers the use and abuse of recreational, therapeutic, and experimental psychoactive substances. The behavioral effects of these drugs are related to the nervous system and other physiological processes. Topics include addiction, tolerance, and drug interactions for a wide range of psychoactive drugs.

PYB 370 Sensation and Perception (four credit hours)
An examination of basic sensory and perceptual processes, including the structural and neurological bases of awareness and the role of cognitive processes in perception. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite:
PSY 110, and BIO 110 or NSC 120.

PYB 380 Motivation and Emotion
A survey of the current theories and underlying principles used to study motivation and emotion. Topics range from the physiological processes that drive behavior, to influences of social and cultural environments. Prerequisite: PSY 110, and BIO 110 or NSC 120

PYB 450 Research in Primate Behavior
Students define an appropriate research question and conduct systematic observations of the behavior of the Barbados green monkeys. These projects apply sampling techniques and statistical analyses common to behavioral research. Conducted in Barbados.

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