last updated:

February 7, 2020

[Brain Image]    

PSY 340 Brain and Behavior

Class 01:  Introduction to Biological Psychology


Brain and Behavior

Let's start with behavior

What behaviors do you expect of dogs because they are living creatures?

What other behaviors do you expect of dogs because they are dogs?

What other behaviors do you expect of humans because they are human?
(= How are dogs and humans different in their behaviors?)

1. All living creatures exist within a complex environment and must cope with that complex environment.
  • Environments include the physical, biological, and social worlds that surround and interact with a creature.

2. All living creatures have fundamental needs to stay alive & reproduce.

3. Each living creature copes with environments using their own kind of body, i.e., the specific features of the body which allow it to live within and interact with the environments (motor system, sensory system, communication system, digestive system, sexual system, etc.)

4. The bodies (including the brain and nervous systems) of each type of creature share many similarities because all creatures share similar challenges

  • How to stay alive: finding food, water, shelter from environmental threats
  • How to reproduce AND guarantee that offspring will themselves be able to thrive
  • How to deal with threats by predators, enemies, or other creatures which may harm

5. BUT, each creature copes with environments (that is, BEHAVES) in ways that are specific and peculiar to that creature and its type of body.

  • Dogs grow summer and winter coats of fur but humans put on clothing
  • Dogs will pant in order to cool down but humans will perspire
  • Dogs can move around on all four legs within a few days of birth but humans take almost a year to walk on two legs
  • Dogs reach sexual maturation within a year but humans reach sexual maturation after only 12 to 14 years
  • Dogs primarily explore the world with their noses but humans primarily explore the world with their eyes and ears
  • Dogs can bark and whimper but humans can engage in complex forms of communication both in language and gesture
  • Dogs cannot build structures or use tools or create artistic works, but humans can do all of these things
  • Dogs learn to cope with the environment by trial-and-error but humans also study and learn via social learning, schooling, and media
  • Dogs and humans are both highly social creatures and, thus, both are quite alert to the signals received from their social worlds
The brains of dogs and human beings share many similarities, but also profound differences because brains are the fundamental means by which each type of multi-cellular living creature successfully interacts with the environment.

We have no access to the environment directly except through the information our brains receive from the rest of the body.
  • We have brains in order to cope with the world.
  • For humans, the world is not only physical but highly social
  • Behaviors are the actions that the brain takes in order to cope.
Fundamentally, this course studies the ways in which the brain allows us to cope with the world by generating and modifying all the behaviors that we humans engage in on a daily basis.

What do you know about the brain and behavior already?

      In light of how you answered the questionnaire, look over those answers that you got wrong.
  • Why might you have gotten a question wrong? 
  • Some issues in the study of brain and behavior are complex and require special knowledge
  • But, there are also many beliefs that biological psychologists call "neuromyths." This term refers to commonly-held false beliefs about how the brain and the mind work.

What kinds of questions or challenges have I faced in practice that relate to biological psychology?

1. School/Clinical Psychologist

  • Student services needed after brain injury (neuropsychology)
  • Health care & mental states
    • Hypertension & treatment by medication
    • Depression
    • How are they related?  
  • Adolescent development: sexual orientation 
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Language skills
  • Anxiety & phobias

2. Priest/Counselor

  • How do I deal with a family member who is showing mental deterioration? (Alzheimer's disease) 
  • Addictions: gambling, drinking, marijuana, cocaine, tobacco, caffeine
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Psychosis (schizophrenia), bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders 
  • The effects of strokes


  • What kinds of questions or concerns do you have? Do you have any experience of brain-behavior issues in family members or friends?
  • Click on the link below and answer the question that I have posted at MentiMeter for the class to respond:
  • https://www.menti.com/25hkvetgru

Practical Issues

1. Course Website: accessed via <http://web.lemoyne.edu/~hevern/>. Has links to everything in the  course.   

2. Canvas.lemoyne.edu will contain discussion areas, tests, and access to documents in the course.

2. Textbook

3. Syllabus

  • 4 tests, no quizzes
  • 5 absence limit: penalized if more
  • 1 book review may be used to substitute for one bad test
  • Attendance = C+; a higher participation grade requires that you respond to questions, raise objections, cite examples, etc. in the Discussion area on Canvas.

4. Course Schedule

5. Notes

A. Lecture Notes You should print out the lecture notes (the outlines are what will be put on your computer screen).

B. Vocabulary & Concept Lists - Will be distributed after chapters to help prepare for tests

C. 3-Ring Notebook - Very very strongly suggested. There will be about 260 pages of notes in this course.


This page was first posted January 18, 2005.