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Undergraduate Programs

BCS 110: Neural Foundations of Behavior

Cross-listed: PSY/CVS 110
Prerequisites: None
Offered: Fall, Summer
Required or recommended for: BCS major (required)
Psychology major (1 of 2 natural science core courses required)

The course provides an introduction to the brain, its structure and organization, and how it controls everything we do—our perceptions, actions, thoughts, and emotions.

The course begins with a brief historical review of ways we have thought about what the brain does, leading to the modern view of the brain as a special kind of computer. We review differences between human brains and animal brains, how we can learn what the brain does, and the kinds of properties that encourage us to think of the brain as a computer. The early part of the course deals with communication in the brain, how it analyzes information.

Then we examine how the brain picks up through the senses and analyzes information about what we see, hear and feel—and how it uses this information to control movements of the body. Later parts of the course examine the control of sexual behavior and some of the differences between the male and female brains. We also explore how the brain regulates the internal state of the body and our eating, drinking, sleeping and waking and emotional behaviors and drives. Later, we examine how different functions are localized in different parts of the brain, and what we can learn from observing people and animals who have suffered damage to their brains. Finally, we look at how brain disorders lead to disordered behavior.