Psychology 4222F-001

Behavioural Pharmacology

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


This course examines drugs, brain and behaviour using principles of neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, synaptic transmission and research methods in psychopharmacology. Topics include: major neurotransmitter systems and their relations to psychoactive drug effects, drug addiction and major substances abuse and the biochemical bases of psychopathology and drugs used to treat affective disorders.


Prerequisites: One of Psychology 2210A/B, 2220A/B or Neuroscience 2000, plus registration in third or fourth year Honours Specialization in Psychology, Honours Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Honours Specialization in Neuroscience, Honours Specialization in Physiology/Psychology, or Honours Specialization in Animal Behaviour


Other Psychology students and Psychology Special Students who receive 70% in the prerequisite courses may enrol in this course.

3 seminar hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the requisites 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. 6084       

       Office Hours:   Wednesdays  1:00 – 3:00 pm



       Time and Location of Classes:   Thursdays 2:30 – 5:30 pm   SH 3355

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.



Meyer, J. S., and Quenzer, L. F. (2013) Psychopharmacology, Drugs, The Brain and Behavior, Second Edition, Sinauer, Associates, Mass


The course will involve combined behavioural and pharmacological analysis of basic emotion and motivational systems (e.g. social behaviors, sexual behaviour, aggression, feeding, learning and memory). Basic pharmacological principles (e.g. categories of drugs, animal models) will be addressed. In addition, animal model systems of human psychopathology, including that of drug abuse, will be considered.


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


  • Identify, describe, and explain concepts and research findings in behavioural pharmacology

            (Assessed by concept paper writing and exams)


  • Critically evaluate concepts and theories in the areas of behavioural pharmacology

            (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 behavioural pharmacology of relevance to motivation and emotion

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


  • Distinguish different questions about the pharmacological regulation and manipulation of bhaviour

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


  • Be able to apply pharmacological concepts to hypotheses in the areas of behaviour and 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 behavioural pharmacology

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



The grade in the course will be based on term assignments, a mid-term exam, and a final exam.


Term Assignments             30% (two assignments each 15% ; essays 1,500 – 2000 words each)


Mid-Term examination       35%   (essay and shorter answer based on lecture and class material)


Final Examination               35%  (essay and shorter answer based on lecture and class material)

                                                        (final exam is non-cumulative)


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         September 28


Essay  2         November 17


       Mid-Term       October 26


       Final Exam :  TBA (December 10-21)


September  7:   Introduction and course organization                                             (Chapters 1, 4)

                          Principles of Pharmacology and Behavior



September 14: Structure and Function of Nervous System                            

                         Chemical Signalling                                                                         (Chapters 2, 3, 4)


September 21:    Neurotransmitter Systems                                                       (Chapters 5, 6)

                            Catecholamines, Serotonin



September 28:  Neurotransmitter Systems                                                      (Chapters 7, 8)

                            Acetylcholine, Glutamate and GABA

                              (assignment 1 due)


October 5:        Opioids, Drug of Abuse and Addiction                         (Chapters 9, 11)


                             Glutamate and GABA (contd)


October 12:      Break Week (no class)


October  19 :     Opioids, Drugs of Abuse and Addiction                                    (Chapters 9, 11)                     



October 26:      Mid-term Exam                                                            



November 3:     Psychomotor Stimulants, Cocaine and Amphetamines      (Chapters, 12)                    


November  10 :   Marijuana, Cannabinoids and Hallucinogens                   (Chapters 14, 15)



November 17:   Alcohol, Nicotine and Caffeine, Inhalants                            (Chapters 10, 13, 16, 17)

                           Environmental Neurotoxicants and Environmental

                           Disrupters (assignment 2 due)


November 23:   Affective and Anxiety Disorders                                           (Chapters 18-21)              



November 30:     Affective and Anxiety Disorders                                           (Chapters 18-21)


December 7:        Current Topics (TBA)


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.