Psychology 3209F-001

Neuroscience of Motivation and Emotion

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


An examination of motivation and emotion from a variety of perspectives. Biological, cognitive, developmental, evolutionary, physiological and social approaches to motivation and emotion may be considered.


Antirequisite: Psychology 2280E


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810, and one of Psychology 2220A/B, 2221A/B or Neuroscience 2000

3 lecture/discussion hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


       Instructor:                                                     Prof. Martin Kavaliers

       Office and Phone Number:                            9246 SSC; 519-661-2111  ext. 86084

       Office Hours:                                               Wednesdays 1 – 3 PM



       Teaching Assistant:                                      Deanne Wah


       Office Hours:                                              



       Time and Location of Classes:                      Monday 1:30 – 4:30 in SSC 3024

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Empirical journal articles, review articles, and book chapters will be made available as the required reading materials for the course.



The course will provide a general introduction to current research and theory in a wide array of topics that fall under the heading of motivation and emotion. This will include examination of behavioural, ethological, evolutionary, neural, hormonal, physiological and social processes involved in motivated behaviors and emotional expression. Topics to be considered include: feeding and hunger, aggression, social neuroscience, sexual behaviour, stress and arousal, fear and anxiety, decision making.


After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:


  • Identify, describe, and explain concepts and research findings in motivation and emotion from a neuroscience perspective

            (Assessed by concept paper writing and exams)


  • Critically evaluate concepts and theories in the areas of motivation and emotion

            (Assessed by concept paper writing, class discussion and exams)


  • Describe theories, hypotheses, and predictions in the areas of motivation and emotion

            (Assessed by concept paper writing and exams)


  • Explain techniques and methods used in the field of behavioral neuroscience of relevance to motivation and emotion

            (Assessed by concept paper writing, exams, and class discussion)


  • Distinguish different questions about motivation and emotion and their regulation (behavioral and cellular neuroscience, physiology, and immune system)

            (Assessed by class discussion, exams, and concept paper writing)


  • Be able to apply evolutionary concepts to hypotheses in the areas of motivation and emotion

(Assessed by concept paper writing and exams)


  • Extract and describe key elements from  primary journal articles in the fields of motivation and emotion

            (Assessed by exams and class discussion)


  • Critically evaluate evidence for and against current theories or topics of controversy

            (Assessed by exams and concept paper writing)


  • Locate and independently read research literature on a particular topic and integrate your ideas in the form of two concept papers

            (Assessed by written concept papers of at least 1500 words)


  • Clearly communicate ideas orally and in writing using the acceptable vocabulary of behavioral and cognitive neuroscience

            (Assessed by exams, concept paper writing and class discussion)



Final grades will be based on two essay (1500 words each @ 15% per essay) term assignments, the midterm exam (35%) and the final exam (35%). Both the midterm and the final exam will be a written exam consisting of definitions of terms, short essay questions, and a longer integrative essay.


Note: You must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


        Essay 1  October 2


       Essay 2   November 27


Midterm Test – October 23, 2017 (3 hr in class)


Final Exam – Exam Period December 10-21 (3 hr)


September 11:  Course Organization and Introduction to Motivation and Emotion


September 18:   Basics Concepts in Motivation and Emotion and Neurobiological  Mechanisms


September 25:   Evolutionary and Genetic Aspects of Motivation and Emotion


October 2:         Stress. Fear and Arousal (Assignment 1 due)


October 9:         Thanksgiving


October 16:      Aggression and Violence


October 23:     Mid-term Exam



October 30:     Regulation of Feeding


November 6:   Sexual Behavior, Mate Selection, Attachment


November 13:  TBA


November 20:   Sexual Behavior, Mate Selection, Attachment   


November 27:   Attachment, Love (assignment 2 due)


December 4:     Conflicts, Decisions, Rewards, Drug Abuse


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.