Topics Courses, 2018-2019


Issues in Neuroscience

See below for topics. Enrollment limited to 35 students.
Dist: SCI (unless otherwise listed in course description)

PSYC 50.01. Neuroscience of Mental Illness

In 19W at 12, Margaret Funnell
The goal of this course is to explore the neurological correlates of psychopathology. For each mental illness covered in the class, we will first review the characteristics and diagnostic criteria of the disorder and will then explore the neurological correlates in terms of etiology, manifestation, and treatment. We will examine evidence from a variety of sources, including neuroanatomical studies, neuroimaging experiments, and neurodevelopmental studies, with a focus on current research findings. Case histories and video footage will be used to illustrate the experience of psychopathology with the goal of elucidating the links between the brain and behavior.

Approved elective for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: PSYC 6.

PSYC 50.04. Sleep & Sleep Disorders

In 18X at 10A, Michael Sateia
This course will explore the basic biological mechanisms of sleep and circadian rhythms, including neuroanatomical and neurophysiological aspects of sleep/wake, as well as the behavioral and social aspects of normal sleep. The course will then build upon this basic understanding of normal sleep and circadian rhythm to develop an overview of major sleep and circadian rhythm disorders. The importance of sleep to adequate daytime neuropsychological functioning and the social, public policy and economic issues pertinent to sleep and circadian rhythms will be addressed.

Approved elective for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6

50.07. Exotic Sensory Systems

In 18F at 11, Howard Hughes
Humans have 5 special senses (vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell) and a variety of ‘internal senses’ that provide information about the state of our body and internal organs. However, some animals possess senses that are unlike anything that humans can experience. Examples include echolocation, celestial and geomagnetic navigational systems, and bioelectricity. This course explores the discovery and operation of these ‘exotic’ senses, highlighting both the similarities and differences with our own more familiar sensory modalities.

Approved elective for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6, and PSYC 21; or instructor permission

PSYC 50.09. Motivation, Drugs and Addiction

In 18F at 2A, Kyle Smith
This course will explore how the brain controls our motivation to pursue goals and how drugs of abuse hijack those systems. We will learn about some historical perspectives of motivation as well as modern neuroscience work showing how areas of the brain might contribute to motivations. In the process, we will explore in detail how narcotic drugs (opioids, stimulants, alcohol, cannabis) act in the brain and the mechanisms underlying the transition from drug use to addiction.

Approved elective for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: PSYC 6 and one of the following: PSYC 45 or PSYC 46


Issues in Information Processing

See below for topics. Enrollment limited to 35 students.
Dist: SOC (unless otherwise listed in course description)

PSYC 51.11. Thinking About Thinking

In 19W at 11, Holly Taylor
How do you solve a complicated problem, whether the problem is social, engineering, conceptual or scheduling?  This course explores how we store and use information, in other words how we use our knowledge to think.  Successfully using our knowledge is key to teaching and learning.  We will explore questions underlying thinking and learning and their applications (e.g. to education), including methodology, processes, variability, individual differences, and flexibility.  We will examine these questions taking a broad perspective from education and related disciplines.

Cross-listed as EDUC 59.


Issues in Learning and Development

See below for topics. Enrollment limited to 35 students.
Dist: SOC (unless otherwise stated in the course description)

PSYC 52.01. Developmental Psychopathology

In 18F at 9L, Janine Scheiner
This course will provide an Introduction to childhood Psychopathology using a developmental perspective. Written materials and lectures will focus on the diagnosis, etiology and treatment of a variety of childhood problems, including autism, anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, depression, attachment disorders, conduct disorders, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Prerequisite: PSYC 1 and one of the following: PSYC 24, PSYC 25, or PSYC 59

PSYC 52.04. Adolescent Risk Behaviors: Corporate and Envrionmental Influences

In 19S at 10A, James Sargent

Chronic health conditions (like cancer and heart disease) kill the majority of people worldwide. Those diseases result, in part, from use of products—e.g., tobacco, alcohol, & convenience food—that are produced and marketed worldwide by multinational corporations.  This course centers around how corporations influence unhealthy product consumption during childhood and adolescence. This course describes the theoretical basis for these influences, the science used to establish corporate products as a cause of youth behavior, and how governments try to limit the influence through regulation. The study will cover tobacco, alcohol, drug use, homicide/suicide, food/obesity, and risky sex. (Note: this course was previously offered as PSYC 53.03.)

Prerequisite: PSYC 1

52.05. Science and Pseudoscience in the Study of Human Behavior

In 19S at 3B, John Pfister
Do you only use 10% of your brain?  Is low self-esteem a major cause of psychological problems?  Does a positive attitude stave off cancer?  Despite, in many cases, evidence to the contrary, many of us believe in ideas and statements about human behavior that influence our actions and relationships.  Many of these ill-conceived beliefs have come to us through popular culture, media outlets, our friends and our, often faulty, intuition.  This is a course dedicated to identifying many of these “psychomyths” and learning how to recognize pseudoscientific beliefs from those that are evidence-based.

Prerequisite: PYSC 1


Issues in Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience

See below for topics.  Enrollment limited to 35 students.
Dist: SOC (unless otherwise listed in course description)

53.13. Social Neuroscience

In 19S at 12, Meghan Meyer
This class will focus on the principles of social neuroscience (SCN) and survey a broad array of topics in the field. Social neuroscience attempts to answer social science questions, such as ‘why does rejection hurt?’ and ‘is empathy innate?’ with neuroscience methods, such as brain imaging and neuropharmacology.

Approved elective for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6


Issues in Applied Psychology

See below for topics. Enrollment limited to 35 students.
Dist: SOC (unless otherwise listed in course description)

54.02. Health Psychology

In 19W at 3B, Mark Detzer
This course will explore the role of psychology and health. We will review both empirical/research and clinical psychology contributions to: 1) chronic physical illness; and 2) health promotion. This course utilizes a multi-modal learning approach and will include lectures, readings, large and small group class discussions, videos, guest speakers, and outside of the classroom/DHMC learning opportunities Through in-depth study of medical conditions such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, cancer and chronic physical pain, we will explore the impact of illnesses on the individual/family, the role of development/cognitive factors in illness, adherence/self-management issues, and "medical treatment" issues including doctor/patient communication and medical system aspects of care. We will also review health promotion/behavior change strategies.

Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6

54.03. Forms of Therapy

In 19S at 10A, William Hudenko
Each year, millions of people vow to make a change.  Some may wish to end their habit of procrastination, others to improve a significant relationship, or still others may commit to combat a mental illness.  Whatever their goal, people often discover how challenging personal change can be.  At its core, clinical psychology facilitates such change through the scientific application of psychological principles.  The purpose of this course is to introduce you to various scientifically-validated modalities of individual psychotherapy, with an emphasis on how psychotherapies utilize psychological principles to produce change.  Over the course of the semester we also will explore special topics in the field of clinical psychology such as: human connection, empathy, emotion, ethics, psychological assessment, pharmacological treatments, and treatment evaluation.

Prerequisite: PSYC 24

54.05. Consumer Neuroscience

In 19W at 11, Kimberly Rose Clark
How do measures of the brain and body map onto a brand marketer’s return on a research investment? This course focuses on the history and topics related to the nascent, yet burgeoning, cross-disciplinary field of consumer neuroscience and new technological advances in marketing related to neuromarketing. The course will provide a unique vantage on the multiple academic and applied histories of the field, its ethical ramifications, along with general perspectives focusing on current practices and potential future directions, including the implications of predicting mass consumer behavior from small test samples. Students will have the opportunity to engage with some of the most notable academic and practitioners in the field and will participate in a capstone project of original research applying theory and utilizing psycho physiological tools applied in real-world neuromarketing research.

Approved elective for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1 and one of PSYC 21, PSYC 27, or PSYC 28; or PSYC 6.

54.06. Living with Cognitive Decline and Dementia

In 19W at 2, Robert Santulli
The purpose of the course is to learn about people with significant cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease other dementias, with a focus on how the condition is experienced by the individual and his or her spouse or care partner. Learning will occur both didactically (through readings, presentations, films, discussions, written assignments, etc.) and experientially. Experiential learning will consist of your working throughout the term with someone who has cognitive impairment and his or her care partner. You will be paired with another student, and the two of you will collect and write up the life story of the person with cognitive impairment, focusing primarily on the person’s early life, personality, interests, achievements, preserved capabilities, family, and other characteristics. Together, you will also write a separate, shorter essay about the individual’s cognitive disorder, and its impact on the person and his or her care partner. You will also make an oral presentation to the class about the couple you have been following. Through this combination of learning techniques, you will come to understand cognitive impairment not just as a clinical condition, but also as a lived experience, in the context of the individual’s character, past and present experiences, and relationships to family and society.

Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6.

54.07. Clinical Science Practicum

In 18F at 2A, William Hudenko
This course is designed to provide students with an experiential learning opportunity by applying knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to actual work settings while under both site and academic supervision.  Students who have an interest in clinical psychology will learn about the different facets of working in a social service, mental health, or other community setting while assessing their own skills and suitability for this kind of graduate work or employment experience.   Students will spend up to 10 hours/wk at their practicum site and will be mentored onsite.  Additional supervision will be provided by a clinical science faculty member during regularly scheduled class times and didactic instruction will be offered to complement and enhance work that is completed at practicum sites.

Enrollment limited to 15 students.
Prerequisite: PSYC 24 and instructor permission.