Curriculum Overview

 

Behavior is manifest in the function of neurons, the cells that comprise the nervous system. The networks of a few to many million neurons that underlie the simple and complex behaviors exhibited by humans and animals are shaped by biological, environmental, ecological, evolutionary, social and psychological influences. To develop an understanding of the complex interactions among these factors that generate normal and abnormal behavioral states, critical thinking, reading and writing skills across disciplinary boundaries are required. The Biological Foundations of Behavior Program is offered jointly by the departments of Biology and Psychology. It presents students the opportunity to complete an interdisciplinary major with a focus on either animal behavior or neuroscience.

Neuroscience is an integrative discipline that utilizes knowledge and tools from biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and psychology to study the nervous system across several levels of analysis from molecules to the behavior of individual organisms. Despite the amazing advances that have been made in neuroscience to date, the human brain is a frontier that we’ve only begun to chart. Understanding how it works, how to protect it from disease and how to fix it when it becomes damaged or diseased is one of humankind’s greatest challenges.

Animal Behavior—Behavior is a fundamental property of all living things. Indeed, whether animals survive and reproduce often depends on how they behave. Studying individual variation in behavior can reveal the role of natural selection in shaping behavior. Comparative research with many species provides animal models for studying development, sensation, perception, life history evolution, reproductive behavior, learning and cognition as well as providing a broader context for better understanding the influences affecting human behavior and the mind. In addition, studying how individuals behave in response to varying environmental conditions can help predict effects of climate change and the fate of populations. Conservation efforts and resource management depend upon ecological and evolutionary studies of the relationship between animal behavior and the environment.

The Neuroscience and the Animal Behavior majors begin with core courses in biology, chemistry, physics and/or mathematics, that create a solid foundation upon which to begin the research-intensive coursework that follows. Following cornerstone courses at the introductory level in neuroscience and biopsychology, Neuroscience students choose elective courses in neuroscience and related areas. After foundational, research-intensive training in animal behavior, Animal Behavior students select from a series of core and elective courses in animal behavior. The Neuroscience and the Animal Behavior majors each culminate with capstone research experiences, typically through independent study, that may be defended for honors in the major during the senior year.

A major in Neuroscience requires the completion of 15 courses:

Biology Core (two courses)

BIO 110. Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Heredity.

BIO 220. Principles of Physiology and Development.

Physical Sciences and Mathematics Core (six courses)

CHM 111, 112, 211, 212; PHY 111; MAT 109.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience (two courses)

BFB 240. Neuroscience.

BFB 302. Biopsychology.

Research Methods and Statistics (one course)

PSY 230. Experimental Design and Statistics.

or

BIO 210. Biostatistics.

Area Studies Electives (Three courses distributed across at least two areas are required; one must include a lab.)

Area 1: Neural and Physiological Mechanisms

BFB 301. Sensation and Perception.

BFB 330. Advanced Neurobiology. (BWR)

BFB 341. Neurochemistry. (BWR)

BFB 343. Functional Human Neuroanatomy. (BWR)

BIO 327. Vertebrate Anatomy.

BFB 328. Physical Biology.

BFB 313. Cognitive Neuroscience.

BFB 487. Collaborative Research in Biological Psychology.

Topics courses in neuroscience, physiology or perception may serve as Area 1 courses upon approval of the BFB Chair.

Area 2: Behavioral and Cognitive Processes

BFB 250. Animal Behavior.

BFB 306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.

BFB 310. Conditioning and Learning.

BFB 337. Behavioral Ecology.

PSY 304. Developmental Psychology.

PSY 305. Cognitive Psychology.

BFB 37x Brain Evolution.

BFB 37x Animal Social Learning.

BFB 313. Cognitive Neuroscience.

BFB 480. Collaborative Research in Comparative Cognition and Behavior.

PSY 481. Collaborative Research in Developmental Psychology.

PSY 483. Collaborative Research in Human Cognition.

PSY 485. Collaborative Research in Human Perception and Action.

Topics courses in behavior or psychology may serve as Area 2 courses upon approval of the BFB Chair.

Area 3: Cellular and Molecular Approaches

BFB 341. Neurochemistry. (BWR)

BIO 230. Cell Biology.

BIO 305. Genetics.

BIO 306. Developmental Biology. (BWR)

BIO 334. Metabolic Biochemistry.

BIO 335. Advanced Molecular Biology Seminar.

BIO 371. Topics in Cell Biology.

Topics courses in cell and molecular biology/biochemistry may serve as Area 3 courses upon approval of the BFB Chair.

Advanced Research (Required of all students. Take one of the following.)

BFB 390. Directed Research in Animal Behavior or Neuroscience.

BFB 490. Independent Research in Neuroscience or Animal Behavior,

 or approved Biology “BWR” laboratory course,

 or approved Psychology “Collaborative Research” course, including PSY 360.

An area studies course may not be double-counted as an advanced research course and vice versa.

A major in Animal Behavior requires the completion of 15 courses:

Biology Core (two courses)

BIO 110. Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Heredity.

BIO 220. Principles of Physiology and Development.

Physical Sciences and Mathematics Core (three courses from among the
following)

CHM 111, 112, 211, 212.

PHY 111, 112.

MAT 109, 110, 116, 216, 323.

CPS 150, 210, 260.

ECO 410.

PSY 360.

Research Methods and Statistics (one course)

PSY 230. Experimental Design and Statistics.

or

BIO 210. Biostatistics.

Fundamentals of Behavior (four courses)

BFB 250. Animal Behavior. (required)

One of:      BFB 306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.

                    BFB 337. Behavioral Ecology.

                    BFB 37x. Brain Evolution.

One of:      BFB 240. Neuroscience.

                    BFB 302. Biopsychology.

One of:      BFB 301. Sensation and Perception.

                    BFB 310. Conditioning and Learning.

                    PSY 312. Embodied Cognition.

Area Studies Electives (Required of all students. Four courses, with no more than two courses chosen from any one area. Students with permission of the BFB Program Chair may substitute no more than one area elective course with one semester of BFB 390 or 490.)

Area 1: Mechanisms of Behavior. Courses that emphasize the neural, endocrine and physiological basis of behavior and cognition.

BFB 240. Neuroscience.

BFB 302. Biopsychology.

BFB 330. Advanced Neurobiology. (BWR)

BFB 341. Neurochemistry. (BWR)

BFB 313. Cognitive Neuroscience.

BFB 375. Collaborative Research in Neuroscience.

BFB 487. Collaborative Research in Biological Psychology.

BIO 334. Biochemistry.

Topics courses in neuroscience or biochemistry may serve as Area 1 courses upon approval of the BFB Chair.

Area 2: Organismal and Comparative Approaches. Courses with an emphasis on functional organization and integration within individual organisms.

BFB 301. Sensation and Perception.

BFB 306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.

BFB 310. Conditioning and Learning.

BFB 328. Physical Biology.

BFB 337. Behavioral Ecology.

BFB 343. Functional Human Neuroanatomy.

BFB 37x. Brain Evolution.

BFB 37x. Animal Social Learning.

BFB 480. Collaborative Research in Comparative Cognition and Behavior.

BIO 326. Comparative Physiology.

BIO 327. Vertebrate Anatomy.

PSY 485. Collaborative Research in Human Perception and Action.

Topics courses in biology or psychology may serve as Area 2 courses upon approval of the BFB Chair.

Area 3: Ecological and Population Perspectives. Courses with an emphasis on ecological factors primarily at the population level.

BIO 323. Ecological Concepts and Applications. (BWR)

BIO 325. Marine Biology.

BIO 336. Evolution.

PSY 312. Embodied Cognition.

Topics courses in ecology, environmental studies or ecological psychology may serve as Area 3 courses upon approval of the BFB Chair.

Area 4: Cognate Studies. These courses complement courses from Areas 1 – 3 and often serve as a pre- or corequisite for other advanced courses.

BIO 230. Cell Biology.

BIO 305. Genetics.

BIO 306. Developmental Biology.

BIO 322. Microbiology.

BIO 332. Molecular Biology.

PSY 304. Developmental Psychology.

PSY 305. Cognitive Psychology.

PSY 307. Personality Psychology.

PSY 308. Psychopathology.

PSY 309. Social Psychology.

In Area 4, students may, with permission of the BFB Chair, elect to take a course above the introductory level in a cognate area (e.g., Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Philosophy and Computer Science).

Advanced Research (Required of all students. Take one of the following.)

BFB 390. Directed Research in Animal Behavior or Neuroscience.

BFB 490. Independent Research in BFB.

or, approved Biology course with investigative/collaborative research required (BIO 323 – 342).

or, approved “Collaborative Research” course in Psychology (PSY 360, 480 – 488).

An area studies course may not be double-counted as an advanced research course and vice versa.

To be considered for honors in BFB, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must possess a cumulative GPA in the major of 3.33 or greater and complete no less than two semesters of independent research in neuroscience or animal behavior. Normally, prospective honors students will enroll in two semesters of BFB 490.

The writing requirement in the Biological Foundations of Behavior major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.

The indication as to when a course will be offered is based on the best projection of the BFB Program Committee and the departments of Biology and Psychology and is subject to change.

Majors in the Biological Foundations of Behavior Program have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: University of Melbourne, Australia; School for Field Studies (various countries); Danish International Study (DIS), Copenhagen; Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University programs (various countries); La Suerte Biological Field Station, Costa Rica. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

 

Courses Offered

 

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.

240. Neuroscience. (N)

Principles of nervous system function from the molecular through the organ system level as illustrated by the vertebrates and invertebrates. Approximately one half of the course will cover basic cellular principles of nervous system organization, development and physiology. The remaining lectures will consider the role of functionally identified neural networks in behavior control. Prerequisite: BIO 220 or BFB/PSY 302. Offered every Spring. Same as BIO/PSY/SPM 240.       Jinks

250. Animal Behavior. (N)

An integrative approach to animal behavior from the perspectives of ethology, behavioral ecology and comparative psychology. The structure, function, development and evolution of behavioral adaptations including foraging and predation, communication, social organization and reproductive strategies. Observational and experimental research required. Prerequisites: BIO 110 and permission of the instructor. Corequisite: either BIO 210 or PSY 230. Offered every Fall. Same as BIO/PSY 250.                                                                                                                                 Lonsdorf, Morton

301. Sensation and Perception. (N)

Review of phenomena and research on sensory processes and their role in perception. Readings and discussion will examine evidence from behavioral, psychophysical and physiological research and consider implications for explanations arising from the mechanistic, cognitive, computational and naturalistic theoretical perspectives. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY/SPM 301.                                                                 Owens

302. Biopsychology. (N)

Behavioral and mental processes as viewed from a biological perspective with particular emphasis upon the role of neurochemical and endocrine factors in central nervous system function. Topics covered will include reproduction and gender, chemical senses and ingestion, emotion, learning, sleep and psychopathology. A neuropharmacological approach to the study of the nervous system will be emphasized. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as PSY/SPM 302.                                                      Hawley, Lacey, Roth

306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.

What is intelligent behavior, what is it for and how did it evolve? We will attempt to answer these questions and understand the nature and development of Mind from a comparative perspective. We will do so by investigating learning, perception, memory, thinking and language in animals and humans. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: One of: PSY 100, PSY 301, PSY 302, PSY 303, PSY 304, PSY 305, BIO 240, BIO 250 or PHI 338, or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Same as PSY/SPM 306.                                               Meagher, Troy

310. Conditioning and Learning.

An introduction to the process by which human and animal behavior changes as a function of experience. Examines basic mechanisms for learning (including habituation, sensitization and classical and operant conditioning) and explores the scientific and practical application of these mechanisms to explain and predict behavior. Discusses the extent to which learning mechanisms are consistent across species and how the physiology, natural environment and social systems of individual species interact with basic learning processes to produce different behavioral outcomes. Offered every Fall. Same as PSY 310.                                                                                                  Lacy

328. Physical Biology. (N)

Participants in the course will use the basic principles of fluid and solid mechanics, optics, vibration, and electromagnetic fields to analyze the morphology and function of organisms or parts of organisms. Topics will include vision, transparency, navigating and communicating with sound, circulatory systems, swimming and flying, and the mechanical properties of biomaterials, structures, and movement. Prerequisites: BIO 220 and permission of instructor. Corequisite: PHY111. Same as BIO 328.                                                                                                                                  J. Thompson

330. Advanced Neurobiology. (N)

Advanced issues in neuroscience will be explored from a comparative perspective in this lecture/seminar hybrid. The major sensory modalities will be studied—from stimulus transduction to perception—as models of neural processing. Current research in cellular, systems-level, integrative/behavioral and cognitive neuroscience will be emphasized. Laboratory includes an independent research project in sensory neurobiology defined, proposed, pursued and disseminated by small research teams. Prerequisite: BIO/BFB 240 or BIO 230 and permission of the instructor. Same as BIO 330.                                                                                                                                Jinks

337. Behavioral Ecology. (N)

Behavioral ecology is an integrative discipline that synthesizes ecology, evolution and physiology into the study of the origin and persistence of behaviors. We will study the fitness consequences of behavior, with particular attention to the study of adaptation, sexual selection, evolutionary tradeoffs and constraints and life histories. We will examine the interplay between proximate control and ultimate consequences of behavior. The course will focus heavily on peer-reviewed literature. Prerequisites: BIO 110 and permission of instructor. Same as BIO 337.                                         Ardia

341. Neurochemistry. (N)

An introduction to neurochemistry focusing on cellular and membrane neurochemistry, intercellular and intracellular signaling and neuronal and whole-brain metabolism, with student-driven special topics in development, disease and/or behavior. Current research in these areas will be emphasized through student seminars. Laboratory includes a research project in neurochemistry designed, proposed, pursued and disseminated by small research teams. Prerequisites: BIO/BFB 240 or BIO 230 or BFB 302 and permission of the instructor. Same as BIO 341.                                               Jinks

343. Functional Human Neuroanatomy.

This seminar utilizes a problem-solving approach to learning neuroanatomy by relating structure to function and functional disorders using data from carefully documented clinical cases. Seminar meetings will include student-led clinical case presentations, analysis of clinical localization, analysis of associated neuroimaging and discussion of clinical course and prognosis. The course will culminate with a class-wide debate on the biological basis of the mind. Non-traditional writing will be emphasized. Prerequisite: BIO/BFB 240 or BFB/PSY 302 and permission of the instructor. Same as BIO 343.                                                                                                                                          Jinks

390. Directed Research in Animal Behavior or Neuroscience.
480. Collaborative Research in Comparative Cognition and Behavior. (N)

Comparative perspectives and approaches to the study of selected topics drawn from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive ethology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, cognitive science and behavioral primatology. Research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210, one of PSY 250, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306; or one of BIO 250, 330, 379; or one of BFB 250, 301, 302, 306, 330, 379; or permission of the instructor. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY/SPM 480.        Lonsdorf

487. Collaborative Research in Biological Psychology. (N)

The neurophysiological and structural basis of behavior with emphasis on motivation and learning, including the use of psychopharmacological methods. The role of endocrine and metabolic processes in the regulation of behavior is integrated with considerations of structure. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 302 or BIO/BFB 240 or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY 487.                                                                                                          Lacy, Roth

490. Senior Independent Research.

Independent research under the direction of either biology or psychology faculty. Permission of the BFB program chairperson and supervisory faculty member.