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PSYC 202 #32104

Note to prospective students: Please be aware that the Cuesta College Bookstore is overcharging for the textbook! Check online sources such as Amazon or try Google search: Biopsychology 10th or 11th edition by Pinel and Barnes, and you will find used copies to rent or buy at lower cost. No reason to pay more!

Welcome!  Biological Psychology PSYC 202 #32104

Instructor: Brent LaMon, Ph.D.

This course will introduce you to some of the most important things you will ever learn about yourself, the world you live in, and how everything in life as you know it has come to be what it is. I hope these subjects will make this your favorite class as you gain a deeper appreciation of nature, the operation of the brain and mind, and how these topics create your life experience.  


The goal of this fully online course is to introduce you to the biological explanations of behavior and mental processes. The course will provide an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie all behaviors, both animal and human, as well as the scientific methods used to discover these principles. The theories and principles of evolution, genetics, development, neurobiological, and endocrine function will be examined in relation to a variety of behavioral and mental processes, both normal and pathological. This course will provide you with a deeper understanding of yourself and the diversity of life in the natural world, which will enhance your enjoyment of life as you gain an appreciation of nature, the natural lives of animals, and the many biological processes that shape and influence your own life experience.

Contact information

Email Address: blamon@cuesta.edu

Phone Number:  (805) 592-9681 messages only

Instructor Contact /Expectations: 

The best and fastest way to contact me is email.  I will generally respond to your emails within 24 hours during weekdays.  During busy times of the semester, the response time may increase.  On weekends, I may be able to get back to you, but I cannot guarantee an immediate response.

On-line Course Environment:

This online course will be using the Web-based Learning Management System Canvas as the method to share information. Canvas provides the organization and access to content for the course including PowerPoint Lecture presentations, videos and media files, data files, the tools to receive or send course materials, and a grade book. Using the communication tools, you can communicate using e-mail or access Zoom office hours, and you can share materials and ideas with other course participants via the discussion forums and groups.

Class opens / Accessing Canvas:

Prior to the day classes start you will receive an email to your my. Cuesta.edu address providing you with a reminder that class will be starting and log in procedures for Canvas, the learning management system (LMS) used to deliver course content. You can access Canvas by logging into MyCuesta, then clicking on the Resources Tab, then clicking on Canvas in the Online Learning Channel, or by typing the Canvas address (https://cuesta.instructure.com/) into your browser address bar. Do not bookmark or favorite the Canvas site after your login, or you will get an error message next time you try to log in. You must access the Canvas log in directly.

If you are not familiar with logging into Canvas, please refer to the Canvas Quick Reference Guide. Links to an external site. Once logged into Canvas you will be directed where to get started on the course home page. Be sure to read all the directions on the course home page. If you are having difficulty logging into Canvas and need assistance, please email Canvas technical support at this email address: support@instructure.com or contact the Cuesta College Technology Support at support@cuesta.edu.

Course Sample Syllabus (may be modified prior to start of class)


Distance Education                                                          Spring Semester 2024

Dr. Brent LaMon                                                             

Cuesta College San Luis Obispo Campus Office       

Social Sciences Bldg. Rm. 6201                                  

(805) 592-9681 phone messages only                     

e-mail: blamon@cuesta.eduplease include your name and the class you are in on e-mail subject line

Online Zoom Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday 11am-12pm; please request Zoom link by email

TEXT: (10th and 11th Editions are mostly the same)

Biopsychology (11th ed. e-text),  J. Pinel & S. Barnes, Pearson Publ., 2021. ISBN-13: 978013571088-3


Biopsychology (10th ed. used),  J. Pinel & S. Barnes, Pearson Publ., 2018. ISBN-978013456770-9

Canvas Course Homepage: The homepage will have Announcements, Gradebook, & Learning Modules that provide PowerPoint lectures and Assignments, as well as Files with folders for Supplemental Reading materials, Assignments, Study Guides, and lecture PowerPoint slides.


UNIT 1                            TOPICS                          Reading Assignments

  • Week 1     Questions & Fields        T: Ch. 1  
  • Week 2      of Biopsychology           T: Ch. 1      R: pg. 1-6                  
  • Week 3     Evolution, Genetics,      T: Ch. 2      R: pg. 1-6        
  • Week 4       & Interaction Principle     T: Ch. 2      R: pg. 1-6      Quiz #1–open Feb. 9-10
  • Week 5     Heredity & Epigenetics        T: Ch. 2      R: pg.7-17                    
  • Week 6     Human Evo. & Instinct   T: Ch. 2      R: pg.7-17
  • Week 7     Hormones, Sex & Gender    T: Ch. 13      Unit 1 Exam–open Mar. 1-2

UNIT 2   

  • Week 8 Nervous System Cells      T: Ch. 3, p57-62(10thed), p53-58(11thed); Ch 4       
  • Week 9 Neural Signals & Synapses      T: Ch. 4  
  • Week 10 Drugs & Addiction      T: Ch. 15      Quiz #2–open Mar. 21-22
  • Spring Break Module 12 Neuroanatomy open
  • Week 11    Nervous System Anatomy T: Ch 3, p52-57&62-76(10thed); p48-53 & 58-72(11thed); Biopsychology Research Methods   T: Ch. 5 
  • Week 12 BP Methods; Brain Laterality & Language T: Ch.16     Unit 2 Exam–open Apr. 12-13   

UNIT 3                       

  • Week 13  Neural Development      T: Ch. 9    
  • Week 14 Learning & Memory      T: Ch 11      Quiz #3–open Apr. 26-27
  • Week 15  Emotion, Stress & Health      T: Ch. 17
  • Week 16   Psychiatric Disorders      T: Ch. 18                      
  • Week 17 Finals Week      Unit 3 Exam(Final)–open May 13 8am-May 15 midnight


There will be three quizzes and three Unit Exams. Dates may be changed as necessary. Each quiz and Unit Exam will cover the sequence of reading assignments listed. Quizzes will cover the first reading assignments of the Unit. All reading assignments for the Unit including those from the prior quiz will be covered on the Unit Exams.  No books, notes or electronic devices may be used while taking Quizzes or Exams.


The lowest quiz score will be dropped from the calculation of the final grade and there will be no make-up for missed quizzes. If a unit exam cannot be taken as scheduled, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor as soon as possible and provide verification of incapacity so that an alternative make-up exam date may be scheduled during the week following the missed Unit Exam.


Grades will be determined on a cumulative points system in which grade points from all quizzes, exams and other assignments are combined and a final course grade is determined by the percentage of the total points possible obtained by each student. Grade cutoffs will be 90% and above = A, 80-89.9% = B, 70-79.9% = C, and so forth; although cutoffs may be lowered at the discretion of the instructor. Course grade information will be provided in the Canvas Gradebook only; grade reports will not be provided via e-mail. Any student who wishes to withdraw from the course must file a request with the Records Office to officially withdraw from the course. Students who do not login or participate in scheduled Canvas class activities for a week or more may be dropped for non-participation. The approximate distribution of grade points for the course will be as follows:           

   2 highest of 3 quizzes @ 20 pts. each  =   40

                  3 unit exams @ 60 pts. each  =  180

                    miscellaneous assignments  =    80

                       approximate Total Points  = 300 pts


The goal of this course is to introduce you to the biological explanations of behavior and mental processes. The course will provide an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie all behaviors, both animal and human, as well as the scientific methods used to discover these principles. The theories and principles of evolution, genetics, development, neural, and endocrine function will be examined in relation to a variety of behavioral and mental processes, both normal and pathological. This course will provide you with a deeper understanding of yourself and the diversity of life in the natural world, as well as the biological processes responsible for human experience, behavioral capacities, personality differences, and psychological disorders. An understanding of yourself in relation to the natural world will also enhance your enjoyment of life as you gain a greater appreciation of nature, the natural lives of animals, and the many biological influences that shape your experience of life.

Student Learning Outcomes for Introduction to Biological Psychology (Psych 202)

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  1. Describe and analyze the basic theoretical perspectives, research findings, ethical issues and vocabulary of biological psychology. (Theory/Values)
  2. Evaluate the scientific research methods used to study the evolutionary, genetic, developmental, anatomical and physiological bases of behavior and mental processes. (Scientific thinking/Research Methods)
  3. Describe the basic structure and physiology of the nervous and endocrine systems and the techniques used for the analysis of brain function and behavior. (Theory/content)
  4. Describe the anatomical and physiological processes responsible for different aspects of cognition and behavior; including sensory-motor processes, regulation of body systems, memory, emotion, motivation and pathological conditions associated with various psychological disorders. (Applications)

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

It is my sincere hope that everyone in this course feels welcome and appreciated, that students with diverse backgrounds and perspectives will have their learning needs addressed in ways that maximize individual learning success, and that the diversity of experience that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, a strength, and a benefit.  In this class we will explore many challenging and controversial issues and learn concepts that may challenge different worldviews and perspectives. Our conversations may not always be easy. There may be times when we need patience, courage, imagination, or various qualities in combination to engage our course content, our classmates, and our own ideas and experiences. But always we will need respect for others as we pursue this shared learning experience. This class is intended to be an inclusive space, and by taking part, we shall strive to increase our capacity for sensitive discourse as we deepen our understandings of multiple perspectives from others’ backgrounds, lived experiences, or positions.

Please notify me (via e-mail or in office hours) if your name on the roster or implied gender do not match your chosen name or gender identity so that you can be addressed according to your preferred names and pronouns. Additionally, please let me know if there is anything in this class (said or done by anyone) that made you feel uncomfortable, because I am still learning about your diverse perspectives and identities and always welcome student concerns that can improve your experience in the course (anonymous feedback is always an option).

 Disabled Students and Those With Special Needs

            If you have a physical, mental or learning disability, or any other life circumstance that poses a challenge for your educational success, please let me know so we can attempt to make necessary accommodations. This course was designed using an accessible Learning Management System, and course materials were designed for ADA compliance. If you might need accommodations in this class such as extended time on exams or other resources, please contact DSPS (Disabled Student Programs & Services Links to an external site. at 805-546-3148 as soon as possible so that you can receive appropriate accommodations. There is also information about help resources and support services in the Canvas Course Orientation Module that describes other Cuesta services available to students.

Student Conduct

The student conduct and academic honesty policies described in the Cuesta College Catalog and Student Code of Conduct apply for all classes, assignments, and exams.

How Should I Study for This Course?

Start by making a schedule for when you will study as soon as the class begins and study course material in multiple short sessions (30 minutes and then take a short break). Find ways to sustain your attention for the entire study period. Some good methods are 1) to take notes (write comments in your own words) on the key terms and concepts while you are reading the text, 2) look for the overlap between the PowerPoint lectures and the textbook (this content is most likely to show up on the test), 3) focus on important terms (often shown in Bold) and think of good examples to help you remember the terms, and 4) test yourself as you read because you will learn more by challenging yourself to retrieve concepts as you study as opposed to just reading the book or your notes. Perhaps most important, once you have familiarized yourself with the material, REVIEW it with a study buddy or study group. You will remember and understand far more if you talk about the concepts or Study Guide questions with other people, rather than trying to learn it by studying alone. The mind is programmed to retain social communication, use this to your advantage by talking with others (even your dog or other pet) about what you are learning!

 Course Assignments and Activities

The course will provide different opportunities for students to show their understanding and to apply psychological principles through participation in class activities and assignments. Individual and group assignments that receive grade points will be used to enhance understanding of course concepts; assignments missed or submitted after the close dates for assignments cannot be made-up. Assignments with due dates will be listed on the Assignment Pages in Canvas Content Modules, and in Weekly Canvas Announcements.

E-mail Correspondence

All email correspondence should be presented in a professional format that includes a subject line with your name & the course you are enrolled in, and use correct capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure. Sloppy and informal email messages will not be read or responded to. In addition, do not use email to ask about your grades or ask questions about the Study Guides. I CANNOT release information about grades via email, but would be glad to discuss grades or assist you with anything related to course content and your educational success during office hours.


It is important to respect your classmates' comments even if you disagree with their opinions; you may challenge the idea but not the person. Furthermore, in discussions please express your opinions with sensitivity for others’ differences in ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, etc.

 Technical Support

Cuesta students are encouraged to direct all technical support inquiries to  support@my.cuesta.edu. If you are having issues with Canvas, you should contact the Canvas Support Hotline at (877) 921-7680, or click on the help button on the Canvas Navigation to report a problem.

If you are having difficulty viewing the course or logging in, it may be because you are not using the correct url: https://cuesta.instructure.com/ or you are using a phone or an unsupported browser. You may also need to periodically clear the cache of the browser. Your learning environment is best accessed from a desktop or laptop computer with internet access, using Firefox or Chrome browser software.  This may solve your problem!  Please review the browser requirements and minimum computer specifications. Links to an external site. for Canvas applications.

College & Course Policies

Academic Honesty Policy:  In addition to my course policies described in the syllabus, please note all students attending San Luis Obispo County Community College District who participate in any district activity or represent Cuesta College in any off-campus activity, assume an obligation to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner compatible with the Student Code of conduct. Please review the Cuesta College Student Code of conduct Links to an external site. and other college policies listed on the Student Affairs page of the Cuesta College web site.

Add / Drop Policy:  In addition to the course policies described in the syllabus, please review the Cuesta College policy for course adds, drops, and withdrawal: Cuesta’s waitlist procedure  Links to an external site.   Add Policy  Links to an external site.   Drop Policy  Links to an external site.

Online Learning: 

If you have never taken an online class or this is your first experience with Canvas, please be patient as you engage online learning. Online classes are not inherently easier, although they may be much more convenient for many students. You should expect to spend as much time, if not more on this course as you would on a course that meets in the classroom. Since there is no lecture component, much of this time will be self-directed and there will be a substantial amount of reading, viewing, studying, and writing required. This course is completely online using Canvas; all coursework (discussions, assignments, quizzes, exams) is submitted online. There are no face-to-face meetings.  Please be prepared to spend 8 -12 hours per week minimum on coursework for this transfer-level college class.

Regular and effective Instructor contact will be met through a variety of weekly instructor-initiated methods that may include:  announcements to students; discussion forums; feedback and comments on student assignments; email, and virtual Zoom office hours. Many class activities will require students to stay current in text book and other assigned readings, Canvas PowerPoint presentations, discussion forum participation and other class activities that require timely responses. Students should plan to log-in to class a minimum of several times each week for the duration of the course to stay current with course requirements and due dates.

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