Brain and Behaviour

Module code: BS3033

Module co-ordinator: Dr James McCutcheon

In this module you will study the principles of cellular neurophysiology and the integrative activity of the human central nervous system. We will explore advanced aspects of sensory physiology including the visual system, the role of cerebral processes in motor control, and aspects of higher cerebral function such as learning, memory, and reward mechanisms. We will examine the roles of sensory inputs and learning in the development of motor programmes.

We will start by considering human neuroanatomy and common research methods. We will examine the neurobiology of feeding behaviour alongside its evolutionary significance, integrative nature, and relationship to behavioural processes such as motivation, hedonia, learning and addiction. We will investigate patterns of reward and behaviour (with particular reference to dopamine). You will learn about the pWe will also examine the hierarchical mechanisms of the control of movement, including structure-function relationships in the generation of CNS outputs and the control of eye movements. We will study how the CNS analyses and stores information by considering cellular mechanisms of synaptic modification and theories of learning and memory.

Topics covered

  • Mechanisms of long-term potentiation and depression and their putative roles in learning and memory
  • Hierarchical and parallel processing of visual information by the brain and how this relates to the process of image extraction
  • Roles of the different brain structures involved in voluntary movement and their interactions during movement generation
  • Different approaches to investigating CNS function: their relative advantages and disadvantages
  • Role of integration within the CNS with particular reference to sensory-motor integration and higher functions such as learning, memory, and attention and to higher disorders of the CNS such as schizophrenia


  • 28 one-hour lectures
  • 3 one-hour seminars
  • 10 hours of practicals


  • Exam, 3 hours (70%)
  • Essay, 2,000 words (20%)
  • Group presentation (10%)