Course Introduction – PSYC 450 ? Drugs and Behaviour

How do drugs affect the human body? What makes addictive compounds ?addictive?? What about hallucinogens? Why do neurodegenerative diseases elicit their particular symptoms? AU’s Centre for Psychology recently released a new course, PSYC 450 (Drugs and Behaviour), which, as its name implies, explores the relationships between pharmacological agents, human physiology, and human behaviour.

Course professor Dr. Trevor Gilbert, who is also now the Chair for AU’s Centre for Psychology, indicated that PSYC 450 ?deals with the effects of psychoactive drugs on the brain and behaviour.?

He explained that at first, PSYC 450 students explore the ?fundamental principles of pharmacology; that is, how drugs move through and affect the body.? This provides students with the foundational knowledge for the other course objectives, which are subsequently taught in the course’s 18 units.

For instance, neurotransmitters and their actions are explored, with emphasis on how drugs affect these ?brain neurochemicals.? Addictive drugs are included in this, since their primary mode of action is often related to actions on key neurotransmitters.

?Then,? Dr. Gilbert explained, the course ?examines the physiological and behavioural effects of recreational drugs like alcohol, nicotine, cannabinoids, and hallucinogens. Additionally, PSYC 450 explores the biological basis and treatment of various psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder) and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease).?

Dr. Gilbert, who is keenly interested in distance education and online learning, has ensured an excellent learning experience in PSYC 450 for AU students. The course website is an easy-to-access area that provides students with course readings, a timeline, student manual, student course evaluations, and course downloads. Additionally, the website provides links for related resources and tutorials (including an exam demo!).

PSYC 450 uses a completely online interface for its marking scheme. This innovative technology not only quickens the marking process, but is student-friendly since it eliminates the hassle associated with locating testing centres to write exams and paying writing fees.

Student evaluation in PSYC 450 consists of five quizzes, worth 5% each, comprising a mix of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. Additionally, students write a term paper, worth 35% of the final mark. Dr. Gilbert indicated that the topics are ?wide-ranging . . . some ideas include the biological and neurochemical bases of affective disorders, the biological basis of addiction, and an examination of current illicit drugs.? The remaining 40% of PSYC 450’s evaluation scheme is the final exam, which, like the quizzes, is online.

Course professor Trevor Gilbert is currently the Chair for AU’s Centre for Psychology. He has excellent experience in the behavioural neuroscience field, and has published several papers.

In addition to PSYC 450, Dr. Gilbert is responsible for a number of other courses from AU’s Centre for Psychology: PSYC 333 (Sensation and Perception); PSYC 356 (Introduction to Personality Theories and Issues); PSYC 402 (Biological Psychology); PSYC 418 (Special Topics in Psychology); and PSYC 435 (Abnormal Psychology). He is also developing two more new AU behavioural psychology courses.

Dr. Gilbert, who achieved his BA (Honours) and MA from the University of Victoria, and his PhD from the University of Calgary, has a special interest in several key areas of neuroscience, including neural plasticity and epilepsy; neurodegenerative diseases; and neuropsychopharmacology and addiction.

For more information on PSYC 450, visit the course syllabus.

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