Biological Bases of Behavior

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSY 241

       Course Name: Biological Bases of Behavior

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

PSY 101

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course studies behavior from a biological perspective. Content includes analysis of behaviors in genetic, developmental, physiological and evolutionary terms; interaction between physiology, behavior and environment.

IV.   Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. identify the different types of cells and other structures found within the nervous system.
  2. identify and discuss the basic concepts of how the different parts of the nervous system communicate:  forces that move molecules, membrane potential and action potential.
  3. discuss the physiology and pharmacology of the nervous system.
  4. identify and discuss the similarities and differences between the nervous and endocrine systems.
  5. identify and discuss techniques utilized in the study of the biological bases of behavior.
  6. discuss elementary and complex concepts of learning and memory.  Discuss sensitization and habituation as it relates to learning and memory.  Discuss electrophysiology and neurochemistry of learning and memory.
  7. distinguish and discuss different factors that influence learning and memory.
  8. discuss the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and somesthetic sensory systems and how these systems are involved in behavior.
  9. identify and discuss different aspects of motor behavior:  motor control, spinal cord control, and reflexes.
  10. discuss the biological bases of thirst and hunger.  Identify the relationship to eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating.
  11. identify and discuss circadian and other rhythms from a neurophysiological and neurochemical point of view.
  12. identify how hormones can control sexual reproductive cycles and sexual behavior.  Discuss the neural control of sexual behavior.
  13. identify and discuss the nature and function of aggressive behaviors.
  14. identify the neurological bases for human communication.  Discuss different pathologies of human communication.
  15. discuss and identify the neurobiological bases of schizophrenia.  Discuss current and past hypothesis as they relate to drug therapies.
  16. identify and discuss the major affective disorders, physiology, neurochemistry, REM sleep.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Structure and Function of Cells of the Nervous System
    1. Cells of the nervous system
    2. Neural communication
  2. Neural Communication
    1. Synaptic transmission
    2. Pharmacology of synapses
  3. Structure and Function of the Nervous Syste
    1. Central nervous system
    2. Peripheral nervous system
  4. Structure and Function of the Endocrine System
  5. Research Methodology
  6. Audition, Vestibular Senses, Somatosenses, Gestation and Olfaction
  7. Vision
  8. Control of Movement
  9. Sleep and Waking
    1. Physiological and behavioral description of sleep
    2. Disorders of sleep
  10. Reproductive Behavior
  11. Ingestive Behavior
  12. Aggressive Behavior
  13. Anatomy of Learning
    1. Conditioning
    2. Memory
    3. The role of the hippocampus in learning
    4. Physiology and biochemistry of learning
  14. Human Communication
  15. Neurological Bases of Schizophrenia
  16. Neurological Bases of Affective Disorders

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Instructional methods vary with the instructor and may involve any of the following:

Lectures, discussions, readings, papers, audio-visual resources, group projects, simulation games, guest speakers, case studies, exercises, group interaction, role playing.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course practices vary with the instructor and may include any of the following:  reading, writing, oral presentations, mathematics, computer use, fieldwork, clinical observations, other methods.  This course relies on the student's ability to read and understand college-level text material.  Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Representative textbooks include:

Carlson, Neil R. (2000).  Physiology of Behavior (7th ed.).  Boston, MA:  Allyn & Bacon, Inc.

Hall, Geoffrey (1997).  Behavior:  An Introduction to Psychology as a Biological Science.  Orlando, FL:  Academic Press.


X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Evaluation methods vary with the instructor and may involve any of the following:  examinations, conferences, self-evaluation, papers, class discussion, and projects.

XI.   Other Course Information

  1. Attendance
  2. Class policy on make-up, late assignments, etc.
  3. Important dates

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.