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The University of Southampton
Courses

BIOL2040 Neural Basis of Behaviour

Module Overview

Throughout the module behavioural concepts are related to their physiological bases. The characteristics of simple and complex behaviours will be considered and the organization of the underlying nervous systems considered. Concepts of sensory processing such as echolocation, audition and sound localization, olfactory coding, and tactile processing will be appraised in depth. The production of adaptive motor responses, central pattern generation and rhythmicity and feedback will be critically examined. Finally, behavioural plasticity and modulation through learning and neuromodulation will be considered at the neural level. Examples of natural behaviour from both invertebrates and vertebrates will be reviewed.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • understand that neurones are the building blocks of nervous systems that produce and control behaviour.
  • recognise that nervous systems are organised to provide logical solutions to practical problems animals are faced with in detecting and encoding stimuli, and generating behavioural responses.
  • understand that there are common principles of nervous system design and function across the phyla.
  • understand that nervous systems are incredibly precise and capable of responding to amazingly small differences in frequency, intensity and timing of stimuli in the environment.
  • recognise that neural responses are dynamic and subject to plasticity and modulation over time.
  • work in a group setting to prepare and deliver a presentation addressing aspects of the neural basis of behaviour as well as actively engage in class-based discussions of presented material

Syllabus

Throughout the module behavioural concepts are related to their physiological bases. The characteristics of simple and complex behaviours will be considered and the organization of the underlying nervous systems considered. Concepts of sensory processing such as echolocation, audition and sound localization, olfactory coding, and tactile processing will be appraised in depth. The production of adaptive motor responses, central pattern generation and rhythmicity and feedback will be critically examined. Finally, behavioural plasticity and modulation through learning and neuromodulation will be considered at the neural level. Examples of natural behaviour from both invertebrates and vertebrates will be reviewed. The module is essentially zoological, using a comparative and integrated approach, and there is little reference to comparative psychology or human behaviour.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning will involve lectures and group-based student presentations. Course content will be delivered through interactive lectures, lecture recordings, powerpoint files and supplemental online content as well as in-class presentations by groups of students. Group study and learning (team work) will be encouraged via group preparation and in person presentation covering an assigned portion of module content. Presentation format will be flexible as long as it can be delivered during the weekly presentation sessions and documented to serve as a an additional learning resource for the module. As part of their course work student groups will also be expected to actively participate as audience members by preparing questions and providing feedback.

TypeHours
Demonstration4
Lecture16
Independent Study126
Project supervision2
Total study time148

Resources & Reading list

Zupanc, G.K.H. (2004). Behavioural Neurobiology. 

Simmons, P.J. and Young, D. (2010). Nerve Cells and Animal Behaviour. 

Carew, T.J. (2004). Behavioral Neurobiology: The Cellular Organization of Natural Behavior. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Presentation 25%
Written exam  (2 hours) 75%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 25%
Written exam  (2 hours) 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

A Level Biology or Zoology; BIOL2008 strongly preferred. CHEM1039, CHEM1012 or A Level chemistry preferred.

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