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BNS1072 - Foundations of behavioural neuroscience

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Leader: Dr Dianne Sheppard


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit will use a case-based approach to cover the fundamental principles of physics, biochemistry and genetics. The material covered will describe the relationship between heritable metabolic/biochemical disturbances and behaviour. It will also introduce the basic concepts of human genetics including modes of inheritance and genetic mutations in the context of describing case studies of heritable/genetically-determined disorders (eg. Down's Syndrome, phenylketonuria, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, etc.). Students will also be introduced to several generic skills that will be useful throughout their degree (eg. writing Neuropsychological case report) and perhaps also their future careers.


On successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. Have a good understanding of how our genes interact with the environment to affect the structure and function of the brain and/or our biochemical systems, and in turn, human behaviour.
  2. Be familiar with modes of inheritance, gene mutations and abnormalities.
  3. Be familiar with the details of several heritable disorders (eg. Fragile 'X' syndrome, Wilson's disease, Down's syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, etc) that affect certain aspects of behaviour through neuropharmacological, histological, biochemical and other neurological alterations.
  4. Have had the opportunity to develop their group-work and oral presentation skills.
  5. Have acquired new skills (eg. locating and extracting relevant and valid information from databases via the web; writing up a basic clinical case history) that will be useful throughout their undergraduate and postgraduate careers.
  6. Understand and be able to build on important concepts underlying neuroimaging procedures (including the principles of electromagnetism, simple nuclear physics, etc).
  7. To be exposed to the ethical issues surrounding the use of gene therapy as a treatment for disease.


Discussion topic (written/oral assignment 20% and associated quizzes 5%): 25%
Clinical Case History: 12.5%
The web as a resource exercise: 10%
WebCT Neuroimaging Quiz: 12.5%
MCQ Exam: 40%

Contact hours

4 contact hours + 8 additional hours per week


Available only to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience or Diploma of Health Science, or by permission