Pharmacology 589

Drugs, the Brain and Behavior

Tuesday/Thursday 5:00 - 6:30 NE403 Med/Dent   Spring (3 Credits)    Syllabus with schedule

I. Rationale

This course is designed for students with an interest in brain function and dys- (or altered) function, as well as brain pharmacology.

II. Course Aims and Objectives


To familiarize students with the science of the diseases and disorders that affect brain function and behavior, as well as the relevant pharmacology.

Specific Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • use knowledge of normal brain function to explain specific diseases/disorders
  • explain basic mechanisms of neural function and dysfunction
  • describe clinical presentations of nervous system diseases
  • explain treatment options and mechanisms of therapeutic action
  • knowledgeably discuss and critique papers
  • explain research techniques used in modern neuroscience.
  • weigh both the value and limitations of different animal models of disease
  • weigh the pros and cons of current competing theories
  • explain pharmacology as both a research tool and as a clinical tool to treat brain dysfunction.
III. Format and Procedures

This course meets twice a week.  Classes will be either lectures in which new material will be presented or paper discussions, in which students will lead a critical analysis of a paper relevant to a preceding lecture.

IV. Course Requirements

1. Class attendance and participation policy: 

Attendance and participation are mandatory.  You are expected to participate in both the lectures (by asking questions and answering questions) and the paper presentations (by leading discussions and asking questions during discussions you are not leading).  While attendance and participation will not be averaged into your grade, they will be taken into account when determining your final grade in the class (e.g., the difference between an A and A-, or B and B+ when your grade is borderline).

2. Course readings: 

Required Text: Physiology of Behavior, Neil Carlson, 10th Edition

The course schedule lists textbook readings and will be supplemented by additional readings to be posted to the course blackboard website.  Background readings and due the day of class. You are responsible for the knowing the information in the readings.

Before every paper presentation, students not responsible for leading the discussion must submit 2 questions about the paper by 9am on the day prior to the presentation. Late questions will be given half-credit if submitted within one week of the presentation. Questions must be submitted via the course Blackboard site

V. Grading Procedures
  • Midterm Examination = 30%
  • Final Examination = 30%
  • Presentation(s) = 30%
  • Paper Questions = 10%

The lowest grade out of the midterm, final, and paper presentation grades may be replaced by an optional term paper (details below).

Term Paper: An optional paper on a topic of your choosing, which must be focused on a dysfunction or disease covered in class. You must get approval of your topic from an instructor beforehand, no later than 4/15. When you bring your topic for approval, please come prepared with apreliminary thesis statement and 1-page outline incorporating at least 3 primary sources (not including review articles). The paper is due the same day as the final exam. 

VI. Academic Integrity

Each student in this course is expected to abide by the Georgetown University Honor Pledge. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student's own work.  Any violation of the Honor Pledge will result in no credit for the given assignment and automatic reporting of the violation to the Honor Council.