Teaching plan for the course unit



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Pursuant to Resolution SLT/275/2021, of 5 February, which renews and amends public health measures for the containment of the epidemic outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Catalonia, on 9 February 2021 the Rector of the University of Barcelona, following consultation of the deans of faculty and the Student Council, ruled that theory classes for the second semester of the academic year 2020-2021 should be offered partially as face-to-face learning for first-year students, while all other tuition should should continue to be given online.
The resolutions announced since the beginning of the academic year 2020-2021 with regard to the public health crisis provide for possible changes to the organization of tuition and the resulting amendments to certain sections of the course plans for affected subjects. Any such amendments are described in addenda to the original course plans.

General information


Course unit name: Neurogenetics of Behavior

Course unit code: 365846

Academic year: 2020-2021

Coordinator: Marta Morey Ramonell

Department: Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics

Credits: 3

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 75


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Lecture





-  Group tutorial





-  Seminar




Supervised project


Independent learning




Competences to be gained during study



CB5. Learning skills that are necessary to undertake further study with a high degree of autonomy.


CG2. Capacity for learning and responsibility (capacity for analysis and synthesis, to adopt global perspectives and to apply knowledge in practice, and capacity to take decisions and adapt to new situations).


CB3. Ability to gather and interpret relevant data (usually within the field of study) to inform judgements that include reflection on relevant social, scientific or ethical issues.


CE13. Ability to describe the structure, function and mechanisms of action of action of the principal components of the central and peripheral nervous systems, and to compare the normal and pathological states of these components.

Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge


The objective of this course is to introduce students to the field of behaviour, how it emerged and where it goes. The relationship between behaviour and genes is introduced, as well as the relevance of genetics in the study of simple and complex behaviours.

The course addresses both classic and contemporary genetic tools used by researchers to study innate behaviours, such as courtship and aggression. It also addresses circadian rhythms and sleep, as well as memory, with a focus on model organisms amenable to genetic manipulation.

The course also discusses the relationship among genetics, development and the neural circuits that regulate distinct behaviours in these organisms.

The course includes a section on the current approaches to address human behaviours such as mood/affective disorders and addiction. Therefore, students come across research topics at the forefront of neurogenetics and behaviour.

These lectures also aim to provide students with skills that facilitate self-learning through a peer-teaching activity covering a full lesson.


Group tutorials

The aim of tutorial sessions is for students to take part in teamwork and become responsible for their classmate’s learning process. During these sessions, the class is therefore divided into three subgroups, each of which prepares a topic and presents it to the rest of students, bearing in mind that their classmates will be assessed on the topic. This activity highlights the importance of science communication and provides students with tools and experience to increase visibility.



Seminars are designed to promote participation and open discussion on the topics students have been working on during lectures and through independent work.


Referring to abilities, skills

— Understand the relevance of genetics in the study of behaviour.


— Master critical and analytical skills through the evaluation and critical reading of scientific literature.


— Learn about current genetic techniques applied by scientists to study behaviour, neural development and circuitry.


— Acquire a comprehensive understanding of specialised topics in neurogenetics and behaviour through research in scientific literature.


— Be able to communicate the significance of neurogenetics and behaviour to non-specialised audiences through scientific writing and oral communication.



Teaching blocks


1. A quest for the origins of behaviour

*  Seymour Benzer and his offspring; The fruit fly; Genetics and molecular biology

2. Identification of genes regulating behaviour

*  Three Drosophila behaviours conserved throughout evolution

Time: circadian rhythms and the clock --> period and timeless; 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine; Sleep

Love: courtship and songs --> fruitless; Courtship versus aggression and the neural circuit that governs this decision; Parenting behaviours

Memory: the CREB switch --> dunce; Not learning versus forgetting

3. Identification of neural circuits controlling behaviour

*  Identifying neurons and testing their involvement in a particular behaviour; Different ways to switch neurons on or off; Connectomes and their functional meaning

4. Addressing human behaviour alterations

*  The complex origin and causality of mental disorders; Importance of the interactions between environmental and genetic factors; Genetic basis of human behavior; Personality trait continuum and disease



Teaching methods and general organization


The methodology is based on lectures (13 h), group tutorials (8 h) and seminars (4 h).

Lectures: they provide students with the basic knowledge and general concepts on how to address the study of behaviour. Part of the lectures follow a peer-teaching methodology.

Group tutorials: students attend 3 monographic tutorials where they deepen their knowledge on one of the behaviours addressed in the lectures. Lecturers assign the topics to each seminar group. Students lead the discussion of original literature/material provided by the lecturer. Students work in groups to critically assess the material provided and to identify the important information and the train of thought, and then explain the information to the other groups. For that purpose, they design a poster to present their knowledge to the rest of the class, simulating the interactions that take place between researchers in scientific meetings.

Seminars include:

  1. Book discussion session: Discussion of the book “Time, Love, Memory” by Jonathan Weiner, included in the subject’s recommended reading list.
  2. Two participative Q&A sessions on specific parts of the course.
  3. Seminars by guest speakers on topics related to the clinical treatment of human behavioural disorders.

*The proposed teaching methodology may experience some modifications depending on the restrictions to face-to-face activities enforced by health authorities.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


To be eligible for assessment, students must attend all lectures and seminars.

Continuous assessment of theory content and group tutorials and seminars


— After each teaching block, students answer a questionnaire and are assessed on their understanding of concepts and acquired knowledge.

— Group tutorials and seminars assess students’ participation, capacity for discussion and communication of ideas.

Criteria and grading

The following skills are assessed: understanding of concepts, basic knowledge, active participation in seminars, capacity for discussion and communication.

The weighting of activities in the final grade is as follows: questionnaires on the theory content (25%) and the work in seminars and the oral presentation (25%).

Final examination


The whole content of the subject is assessed on the basis of a written examination with different types of questions on theory content, presentations and monographic seminars.

Criteria and grading

The final examination includes the whole contents of the course and represents 50% of the final grade. However, at least 30% of the written exam should be passed to be eligible to receive a final grade for continuous assessment.


*Students’ assessment may experience some modifications depending on the restrictions to face-to-face activities enforced by health authorities.


Examination-based assessment

Requests for single assessment must follow UB regulations.


The final grade review system follows the regulations established by the Academic Council.

Repeat assessment

The repeat assessment examination follows the regulations established by the Academic Council.


*Students’ assessment may experience some modifications depending on the restrictions to face-to-face activities enforced by health authorities.



Reading and study resources

Consulteu la disponibilitat a CERCABIB


“Time, Love and Memory” by Jonathan Weiner. Vintage Books. ISBN-10: 0679763902   ISBN-13: 978-0679763901


Research articles selected by the instructors.



Adaptation of theory classes for online and blending learning during the academic year 2020-2021. Provisions for blended learning apply only to first-year bachelor's degree students.


Lectures, tutorizations and seminars will be done ON LINE, with the exception of the activity on Wednesday March 17th from 11 to 14, and the exam on Wednesday March 24th 12 to 13, which will be both held in classroom M5.