Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


Deals with advanced topics in behavioural neuroscience and psychobiology. This course elaborates on the basic biological systems covered in PSYC2400. We look at the early genetic and environmental influences on the developing embryo and how the neural and immune systems interact. We then look at changes in neural activity with aging and finally we cover how drugs interact with the body and the brain. Lecture material will be complemented by a tutorial program which includes laboratory experience with neuroscience research techniques.

Forms part of an Australian Psychology Accreditation Council's accredited sequence.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 2 - 2014.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. To develop an understanding of the process of embryonic neural development.

2. To be able to detail the major intrauterine and extrauterine influences on neural development.

3. To develop an understanding of the process of neural plasticity and the relevance to development, aging, recovery post trauma, and mental illness.

4. To develop an understanding of the ways in which drugs interact with our neural systems.


PSY3400 deals with advanced issues in neuroscience and psychobiology.
A central tenet of developmental psychobiology is that experiences in early life have effects lasting into adulthood. These effects can lead to altered responses to stress, increased or decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and the shaping of emotional states.
Many of these changes are a result of plasticity in the central nervous system. The extent that the system changes is determined by the degree of neural plasticity.
By plasticity we refer to the ability of the brain to shape or mould itself by expansion or contraction of neuronal processes. The nervous system of a young animal is typically more plastic than that of an older animal and the course of neural development can be altered by changes in the internal chemical environment or by externally imposed changes.
This course focuses on the elaboration of material indicating that genetic and environmental factors early in life can render the developing fetus more or less vulnerable to developmental teratogens during pregnancy, and that the perinatal environment is a critical determinant of developmental compromise.

Assumed knowledge

Students considering enrolling in this 3000 level course should have successfully completed all the first year units and at least half the second year units of the degree program in which they are enrolled, including STAT2000, in order to have sufficient requisite knowledge, understanding and generic skills.

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Written Assignment: Guided lab report on Plasticity of development

Written Assignment: Written Assignment: Behavioural lab report

Formal Examination: Examination ¿ Formal Final examination

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.