Brain & Behaviour I

PSYC 271/3.0

An introduction to behavioural neuroscience. The course primarily focuses on the basics of neuronal operation, functional neuroanatomy, neuropharmacology, and behavioral neuroscience methods. This will be followed by an examination of input (sensory) and output (motor) systems of the brain. Finally, topics relevant to lateralization of function and language will be covered.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

This course has a two-part learning objective.

  • Gain a working knowledge of basic brain terminology and functioning. This information can then be used to gain an understanding of how the brain is able to process complex information and respond accordingly.
  • Learn about theories developed to explain how the brain works and also how scientists study the brain in order to assess these theories.  


Topics covered in this course include

  • Introduction to Biopsychology
  • Evolution, Genetics and Experience
  • Anatomy of the Nervous System
  • Neural Conduction and Synaptic Transmission
  • Research Methods
  • The Visual System
  • Mechanisms of Perception
  • Sensorimotor System
  • Lateralization Issues


PSYC 271 is a course designed to introduce you to the field of Behavioural Neuroscience. This course initially focuses on the basics of how neurons function, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, behavioural neuroscience methods, genetics and evolution. This will be followed by an examination of the sensory and motor systems and finally, topics relevant to lateralization of function will be covered.

Biopsychology is very multidisciplinary and our body of knowledge comes from various fields of study, including physiological psychology, neuropsychology, neurology and neuroimmunology. By combining research ideas from all of these disciplines, a more complete picture of the brain is beginning to emerge. I say beginning because the brain is truly a challenge for scientists to understand, as its ability to evolve and adapt is so great. I believe understanding the brain and its role in behaviour is the ultimate challenge for science!


Summer 16: May - July
Course Dates: 
May 2 - July 22, 2016
Exam Dates: 
July 26 - July 29, 2016


Group Discussion/Report20%
Assignments (2 at 10% each)20%
Final Proctored Exam60%

**Evaluation Subject to change**

You must write and pass the final exam in order to pass the course.

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.


Professor Monica Valsangkar-Smyth (

Instructor message

I received a Bachelor of Science with Honours from Queen’s University and earned a doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Alberta. I was then a Research Fellow at Dartmouth College. I have been lucky enough to work in various areas within biopsychology including neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. My main interest lies in lateralization issues in attention and I have used case studies, traditional cognitive psychology experiments and fMRI research to investigate these processes. I have taught courses in Intro Psychology, Brain and Behaviour II, Neuropsychology and Perception in the past and am looking forward to teaching this course again!

Monica Valsangkar-Smyth

Time Commitment

A course such as this on campus would have three lecture hours per week. Students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 hours per week (120 hours per term) on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

OnQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the OnQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

  • Laptop or Desktop computer purchased within the last 5 years. (mobile devices are not supported)
  • Windows Vista SP2/Mac OSX 10.9 or higher
  • Up to date versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. Please note that Google Chrome is not recommended for use in our courses.
  • Most recent version of Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash

 See also Getting Started.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Upcoming Application Dates section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2016-17 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $648.40; for a 6.0-unit course, $1296.80. See also Tuition and Fees.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.