PSC 113

Developmental Biological Psychology

Fall Quarter





Developmental Biological Psychology (PSC 113 – Schank Instructor)

Lecture times – TTR, 9:00-10:20 AM

1. Thursday – Oct 2 – Introduction–  I introduce the course requirements and topics we will cover.  We will also talk a bit about some of the myths of development and developmental biological psychology.  Finally, we will break up into groups so that everyone can get to know everyone else (or nearly so).

        (1) The Neuroendocrine Basis of Social Recognition.
        (2) What If There Are Only 30,000 Human Genes?
        (3) Human genome (optional)
   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

2. Tuesday – Oct 7 –  Levels of Organization and Causation – This lecture introduces the way the world is organized into different levels of organization.  It also introduces a modern conception of Aristotle’s notion of causation.

        (1) Chapter 1: Biological Roots of Developmental Psychobiology, 
            pages 1–16.
        (2) Beyond Reductionism: Refocusing on the Individual with 
            Individual-based Modeling.

   Lecture Notes:pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

3. Thursday – Oct 9 – Nature vs. Nurture – We examine the nature vs nurture issue from a number of perspectives. To what degree if any, do genes determine behavior?  After critically examining different views including the program view, I ask whether there is an alternative approach.  Finally, we examine the role of reductionism in science.

        (1) Chapter 1: Biological Roots of Developmental Psychobiology, 
            pages 32–46
        (2) Contradictions and unanswered questions in the Genei case: 
            a fresh look at the linguistic evidence.

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

4. Tuesday – Oct 14 – Epigenesis – We will talk about different approaches to development and introduce the idea of the Umwelt and generative entrenchment.

        (1) Human infant crying as an animal communication system: 
            insights from an assessment/management approach
        (2) Stroll through the worlds of animals and men:  
            A picture of invisible worlds (optional)

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

5. Thursday Oct 16 –Human Infant Crying –  We look at human infant crying as a system of communication that may be largely independent of human language and we discuss human infant crying in the context of the developing Umwelt.

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

6. Tuesday– Oct 21 –  Video: Growing Up

        (1) Chap 4: Development and Evolution, pages 127 - 138. 

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

7. Thursday –Oct 23  –  Exam I 

   Reading Topics: pdf_icon
   Exam: pdf_iconsample,pdf_iconsample answers,pdf_icon questions,pdf_icon answers

8. Tuesday –  Oct 28 – Evolution and Development This lecture introduces the basic ideas and history of evolution and ties them to development.

        (1) Experiments in Plant Hybridization (1865)
        (2) The Origins of Species: Chapter 4
Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

9. Thursday – Oct 30 – Development and Genetics – This lecture focuses on the relationship between genes and development.  In particular, the issue of how so few genes can generate such different levels of complexity is discussed.

        (1) Chapter 5: pages 181-242.
        (2) Early locomotor and social effects in 
            vasopressin deficient neonatal rats

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

10. Tuesday – Nov 4 – Behavioral Genetics – This lecture covers both unifactorial and multifactorial genetic methods.  Quantitative genetics is covered with application to the IQ controversy.


  Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

11. Thursday – Nov 6 – Behavioral Genetics continued

  Lecture Notes:pdf_icon

12. Tuesday – Nov 11 – Veteran’s Day

13. Thursday Nov 13 – Exam II

   Reading Topics: pdf_icon
   Exam: pdf_icon sample,pdf_icon sample answers,pdf_icon questions,pdf_icon answers

14. Tuesday – Nov 18 – Neuroembryology – This lecture examines the basic principles underlying the developmental emergence of the brain as a complex system.

        (1) Chapter 6: Neuroembryology and Ontogenetic Origins of Behavior
  Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

15. Thursday – Nov 20 – Behavioral Embryology I – Introduces sex and gender development.

        (1) Chapter 7: Behavioral Embryology, pp 289–317
  Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

16. Tuesday Nov 25 – Behavioral Embryology I continued (possibly to II)

        (1) Chapter 8: Cognitive Development and Developmental Psychobiology

   Lecture Notes: 
Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

17. Thursday – Nov 27 – Thanksgiving

18. Tuesday Dec 2 – Behavioral Embryology II – The study of behavioral embryology focusing on Norway Rats.

        (1) Positive Geotaxis in Infant Rats (Rattus norvegicus): 
            A Natural Behavior and a Historical Correction

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

19. Thursday Dec 4 – Animal Behavior and Cognition

        (1) Chapter 9: Animal Behavior and Human Development, 
            pp. 383-403

  Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

20. Tuesday Dec 9  –Pheromones

        (1) Menstrual Synchrony and Supression
        (2) Women Do Not Synchronize Their Menstrual Cycles
        (3) Regulation of ovulation by human pheromones
        (4) Do Human Menstrual-Cycle Pheromones Exist?
        (5) Pheromonal influences on sociosexual behavior in young women

   Lecture Notes: pdf_icon (single) pdf_icon (four)

21. Thursday Dec 11– Exam III

   Reading Topics: pdf_icon
   Exam: pdf_iconsample,pdf_iconsample answers,pdf_icon questions,pdf_icon answers

22. Thursday Dec 18– FINAL EXAM – 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM

Note: All of the lectures and readings can be found above. Just click on the topic or topics for the day. Some documents are not public.  Log into smart site first and then click on the links or document icons.

Units: 4


Psychology, 1, 41, 101, or permission of instructor

Course Objectives

You will become familiar with the basic ideas and methods of developmental biological psychology as an interdisciplinary science. The aim will be a deeper understanding of behavioral development through the integration of perspectives of  biology and psychology, including the relationships of evolution and genetics to development.


Class: TR 9:00-10:20 AM 
Olson 207

Labs: W: 12:10-2:00 PM; 2:10-4:00 PM  
162 Young

Lecture Instructor

Jeff Schank

Office: 268D Young Hall

Email: Jeff Schank

Phone: 752-6332

Office Hours:  Tuesday and Thursday: 10:30 to 11:30 AM and by appointment

Lab Instructors

Sabine Durand

Office: Young Hall 189

EmailSabine Durand

Office Hours: TBA and by appointment

What is Developmental Biological Psychology?

Developmental biological psychology concerns changes that take place over an individual’s lifetime, but not all changes are developmental or of topical concern to psychology. Developmental changes are irreversible, require the active engagement of the individual in its own developmental organization, involve growth, and are emergent from conditions affecting earlier stages (e.g., genetics, environmental factors, previous stages of development). Topical phenomena for developmental biological psychology include behavior, motivation, emotion, cognition, and learning. But, merely listing the characteristics of development and topics in biological psychology is not a definition of developmental biological psychology. To achieve a deeper understanding we will begin by examining the complex concept of levels of organization and causation, issues in nature vs. nurture, and the synthetic perspective of epigenesis (i.e. a process of emergent development in which a developmental stage emerges from the conditions present in the previous stage including prior development up to that point, environmental factors, gene regulation and expression). An epigenetic perspective requires understanding complex issues of causation at multiple levels of organization and integrating information from multiple scientific disciplines including psychology, evolution, development, genetics.

Course Requirements

Attendance and Extra Credit

Notes for the course are provided on the class web site (usually, they are posted by Monday and Wednesday before the lecture). The notes cover the lectures in detail, but it is only in the context of lecture and discussion that a good understanding of this material can be achieved. I have found in the past that providing detailed notes helps people to do well in this course provided that they also attend the lectures.  Typically, a person who attends all the lectures ends up with an A or B for the course, but those who do not usually end up with a B- or lower.  I just hate to give out bad grades, but unfortunately people often will not attend without incentive. Providing detailed notes leads some students to skip class and they end up not doing so well. Thus, 5% of your grade will depend on your attendance. Here is how it works:

Lectures Missed Points Received

   Days Missed          Points Received
       0-2                    5 
       3                      4 
       4                      3 
       5                      2 
       6                      1 
       7 or more              0

These points are added to your percentage grade for the course (see Grading below).  That is, everything else you do in the class will be 95% of your grade.  If, for example, you did not attend any lectures but received 100% on all the work for the course, you would have a percentage grade of 95% (A) for the course.  With 100% attendance, you would receive a percentage grade of 100% (A+).  Or, suppose you received 87% (B) on all your work but did not attend lecture, you would receive a percentage grade of 82.65 (B), but with 100% attendance, you would receive 87.65% (B+).

Sometimes, when attendance is low, I have double attendance days. These double attendance  days can make up for missed days, so if you miss 4 days but happen to attend on two double attendance days, you will receive the full 5 points.  For those of you who never miss a day of class (excluding the first day of class), you can receive up to 2 extra points.  For example, suppose you received 87% (B) on your course and lab work.  If you have perfect attendance, your grade would be 87.65% (B+).  If there were one or more double attendance days during the quarter, you would get up to two more points added.  For example, if there were two or more double attendance days, then your course grade would be 89.65% (A-).

Attendance sheets are distributed at the beginning of class and then passed to the TA(s).  So, if you are significantly late to class, you will not receive double attendance if it is a double attendance day (you can, however, sign the attendance sheets at the end of class for regular attendance).

Extra credit

In addition, extra credit can be earned for each exam by submitting one multiple choice question (with 4 to 5 alternative answers listed a to e) that cover the READING TOPICS and NOT the LECTURES If you turn in a question that cover material only presented in lecture, you will not recieve credit for that question. If a question is judged not to be trivial, then you will receive 2.5 points added to your exam score. From 0 to 5 of these questions also will be included on the exam.  Thus, if the question is exceptionally good and included on the exam, then not only will you receive 2.5 points, you are assured (because you wrote the question) to get it correct as well! All extra credit questions are due by 5 PM on the day before the exam (if they come at 5:01 PM, they are not accepted). All extra credit questions should be submitted to Sabine Durand and cc a copy to Jeff Schank.

The Rules

1. No extra credit will be given to questions covering topics that are not on the reading topics list.

2. If multiple questions are submitted, only the first question will be considered, so submit only your best one.

3. Questions that are too simple, too complex or too specific in detail will likely be rejected for inclusion on the exam.

Midterm Exams

There will be three midterm exams consisting of 40 multiple choice questions. Each exam will constitute approximately 23.34% of the course grade, which will depend on whether you want to drop one exam and take the final. There will be no make up tests because I drop the lowest exam (including the final). Thus, the final is optional. If, for example, medical reasons cause you to miss two or more exams, then an incomplete for the course is the best option if you are in good standing (i.e., you have at least a C average for the material submitted).

Final Exam

The final exam will have the same format as the midterm exams (i.e., 40 multiple choice questions), except that it will be comprehensive. It will constitute 23.34% of the course grade but need not be taken if you are satisfied with your grades on the three previous exams, in which case, your 3 midterm exam scores will count towards 70% of your course grade. Final exams will only be given on the scheduled date, not earlier or later.  If, however, everyone agrees on changing the final to an earlier date or time, then I will move it to that earlier date or time.


The lab will consist of two main projects. The first project will be a research paper and the final project will be presented as a poster. Lab projects will be group projects put together by groups 3 students (2 or 4 students when the numbers do not add up). Everyone in a group will receive the same grade. This is to your benefit since group work typically results in higher lab grades.  You must, however, pull your own weight in your lab group or the lab grade you receive may be reduced in proportion to your lack of participation (this is determined by your TA).

The mouse labs will together contribute 60% to your total lab grade and be written up as a research paper by each lab group (i.e., there will be one jointly written paper by each lab group). The final project will constitute the other 40% of the grade and it will be presented as a poster on the final day of the lab.  The lab grade itself will constitute 25% of the total course grade.


The total grade will consist of Exams (70%) + Lab Grade (25%) + Attendance (0% to 5% points) = a maximum of 100%

Class Email

In addition to the listed office hours, please do not hesitate to send any questions or comments about the readings and lectures. I usually can get an answer back within a day or less. This may be especially important when reading the text, since the material presented is complex and the presentation is at a very high level. Topics from the assigned readings that may be covered in the tests will be provided in the course calendar. All announcements, changes, etc. will also be distributed by class email (


To keep costs down all readings are provided online so that you don’t have to buy any textbooks or other reading material.  The main source of readings comes from: George F. Michel & Celia L. Moore (1995). Developmental Psychobiology: An Interdisciplinary Science. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Note:  You can click on the link above and download PDF files of Developmental Psychobiology, but you will not be able to print them out. These readings are also available on smartsite in the resources folder for this class. Reading topics for each exam will be posted together with a link to the online readings.

Lab Objectives

The basic objective of the lab is a better understanding of the processes of science involved in untangling the complexities of the phenomena studied by developmental biological psychology. To this end you will be performing computer simulation experiments that are based on actual results from previous research. The last 2/5 of the lab will be devoted to a study on the developmental behavior of piglets and their mother (sow).

LAB SCHEDULE – Fall, 2014

Developmental Biological Psychology (PSC 113 – Sabine Durand )

Lab times – W, 12:10-2:20 PM;  2:10-4:00 PM

1. Wednesday– Oct 8 –  Lab 0: During this lab, you will find lab partners that you will work with throughout the quarter (3 people per group).  Next perform do the “practice” lab.  pdf_icon Lab 0

2. Wednesday – Oct 15 – Lab 1 & 2: Genes and Behavior: Simulated Mouse Breeding and Parental Care;Genes, Development, and Behavior: Effects of Parental Behavior on Offspring Behavior

Lab Materialpdf_icon 3P’s, pdf_icon Lab 1,pdf_icon  Lab 2, pdf_icon Write Up Guidelines

3. Wednesday – Oct 22 –  Lab 3a: Development and Intergenerational Transmission of Behavior: Lab 3a

Lab Material: pdf_icon  Lab 3a

4. Wednesday Oct 29 – Lab 3b: Development and Intergenerational Transmission of Behavior: Lab 3a

Lab Materialpdf_icon  Lab 3b

5. Wednesday Nov 5 –  Finish write ups; Prepare for Piglet Labs

Lab Materialpdf_icon  Piglet Lab    piglets  sows

6. Wednesday Nov 12 – Piglet Lab I: Collect behavioral data at the hog barn

7. Wednesday Nov 19 – Piglet Lab Ii: Collect behavioral data at the hog barn

8. Wednesday Nov 26 – Piglet Lab: Background research, analyze data; test data; begin Poster Preparation

9. Wednesday Dec 3 – Piglet Lab: Poster Preparation

10. Wednesday Dec 10 – Piglet Lab: Poster Session; Teaching Evaluations

Note: All labs and readings can be found above. Just click on the topic or topics for the day. Some documents are not public.  Log into smart site first and then click on the links or document icons.

Important Dates

Academic Calendar