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BNS3031 - Brain chemistry and behaviour

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Leader: Dr Alfons Lawen


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


This unit examines how human behaviour is influenced by brain chemistry. It addresses the symbiotic relationship between brain cells, the nature of synaptic communication, and the membrane receptors and intracellular processes that underpin this communication. The ways that the brain uses chemicals to influence bodily functions such as homeostasis, growth and reproduction are reviewed. The last part of the unit examines how chemicals released by bodily organs modulate brain function and behaviour, particularly during stress, aggression and sexual behaviour.


On successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. Understand how brain function depends on the regulated exchange of signal molecules among cells and appreciate the ways in which perturbation of the chemical exchange between brain cells can alter behaviour and lead to behavioural dysfunction;
  2. understand how many key adaptive behaviours are influenced by hormones produced in the brain and other organs and be able to explain the ways in which the brain and body can modify each other's functions through hormonal influences;
  3. have an appreciation of the structure of the autonomic nervous system and its vital role in maintaining bodily homeostasis; and
  4. be cognisant with current theories and knowledge of how food intake and water balance are regulated.
An additional objective is to acquire skills in obtaining, interpreting and presenting scientific data. Accordingly, students completing this unit will:
  1. understand the importance of careful observation and documentation; and
  2. have acquired skills in the presentation of scientific findings.


On-line quizzes: 10%
Mid-semester Examination (short answer, 1.5 hours): 20%
End of semester Examination (short answer, 2 hours): 30%
Four written practical reports (800 words each): 40%

Contact hours

6 contact hours + 6 additional hours per week


BMS1052 or PHY2011 or equivalent by permission.


Must be enrolled in the Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience or Bachelor of Biomedical Science