Genes, brain and behaviour

Level: Advanced
Course code: 1BG344
Credits: 15 hp
More info: Course syllabus
Student portal: Schedule and course material

One of the biggest challenges in neurobiology is to understand the basis of human and other animal behaviours. Each behaviour is the result of the interaction between the environment and the genetic information carried by each individual. Knowledge in this field has grown exponentially during the last years through the development of relatively simple models for the investigations.

The course demonstrates how physiological, pharmacological and genetic changes can modify some of the brain's more complex functions such as language development, locomotion, stress responses, pair bonding, paying attention, anxiety, fear, sleep, depression, eating habits, altruism and drug dependence.

After the course, the student should be able to- explain main concepts in behavioural genetics and neuropharmacology- understand several experimental strategies that can be used to find genes related to behavioural traits.- form opinions about the current debate on the importance of inheritance and environmental factors on human and other animal behaviours.

The course is given during the second period of the fall and includes lectures, discussion seminars in small groups, and workshops to practice presentation techniques and discussion in large groups. At the end, the students are required to prepare a written report including future experimental strategies that could be used to continue the research presented during the course. Previous basic knowledge on cell biology and genetics are necessary to register. The practical part of the course will consist of the following moments:
-Behavioural and pharmacological studies of rodents
-Dissection and study of sheep brain and extraction of RNA from brain tissue
-Bioinformatic analysis of cDNA microarrayer- MRNA expression analysis using real-time RT PCR
-Investigation of gene expression in mouse brain "in situ" using the Allen Brain Atlas- Genotyping of genetic polymorphisms in taste receptors

For more information, please contact:
Elena Jazin (