Undergraduate Course 4452B


1. Course Information:

Course number:
Anatomy & Cell Biology 4452B

Course Name:
Neurobiology of Mental Illness

Winter 2014

An introduction to common mental health disorders focusing on anatomical, clinical, biological, genetic and epidemiological aspects of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, addiction, depression, phobias, panic/anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, paranoia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, suicide and autism. In addition to lectures and tutorials, students will debate important ethical issues in psychiatry.

Monday 10:30am-12:30pm UCC54B

Learning Module:
Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm MSB M282

Prerequisite(s): either Anatomy and Cell Biology 3319 or Neuroscience 2000
Corequisite(s): None
Antirequisite(s): None
Extra Information: 2 lecture hours, 2 tutorial hours, 0.5 course.

Senate regulation regarding the student’s responsibility regarding requisites:
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.

Accessibility Statement

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 661-2111 x 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.

2. Instructor Information:





Office Hours

Dr. Steven Laviolette
(Course Coordinator)




By Appt

Dr. Walter Rushlow
(Course Coordinator)




By Appt

Students with WebCT issues should contact the Computer Support Centre at 519 661-3800 or fill out the WebCT webform:

3. Course Syllabus:
The first several lectures of the course will focus on the basic neurobiology and anatomical regions of the brain responsible for neuropsychiatric disorders. There will also be some discussion of the research and clinical tools used to investigate and diagnose neuropsychiatric disorders. The labs will provide an opportunity for hands-on self-directed investigation of the human brain using plastinated brains specimens, sections and models.

The majority of the course will focus on a wide range of common mental health disorders. The lectures will focus primarily on human clinical/research findings and treatment of mental illness but will also include some promising new discoveries from basic research. In addition, several important ethical issues surrounding mental illness will be explored through class debates. Finally, critique skills will be developed through evaluating and presenting a primary research paper.

4. Course Materials:

Textbook: Biological Psychiatry (Third Edition), Michael R. Trimble and Mark S. George.
Supplemental Information: Powerpoint lectures provided on WebCT
Laboratory Manual: Self-directed anatomy lab notes provided on WebCT.
Laboratory Materials: Specimens provided in the labs
Safety Materials: Not required
Electronic Devices: Tablets and computers permitted in the lectures/learning sections. Electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets and computers ARE NOT permitted in the tests or exams.

5. Evaluation:



% of Final Mark

Midterm test






Laboratory test






Final exam



The neuroanatomy lab quiz will be a ‘bell ringer’ consisting of 25 questions. Specimens and models will be preset at different stations for the students to examine and derive an answer. One minute will be permitted to answer each question before moving on to the next station. There will not be an opportunity to return to previous stations.

The debates will be conducted with 2 teams of approximately 5 students. All 5 students within the team will receive the same grade. Evaluations will not be based on ‘winning’ the debate but active participation and evidence that effort has been put into researching the topic and formulating arguments/counter-arguments. Onus is on the students to ensure that members of the team work together in a co-operative and professional manner to complete the assignment.

Presentation marks will be based on critical evaluation of a research paper and success of disseminating the critique effectively to the class (i.e. content and presentation). Both the course coordinators and students will evaluate the presentations. Final presentation grades will be based 50% on the scores of the course coordinators and 50% on the scores from students in the class.

Mid-Term and Final Exams will be 50% multiple choice and 50% short answer.

6. Course Outline:

Lecture 1
Lecture 2

Course Introduction and History of Mental Disorders
Neurobiology of Mental Illness (neurotransmitters, receptors, signalling)


Lecture 3
Learning Module 1

Neuroanatomy of Mental Illness
Lab: Human Neuroanatomy I


Lecture 4
Learning Module 2

Schizophrenia (Neurobiology of Schizophrenia)
Lab: Human Neuroanatomy II


Lecture 5
Learning Module 3

Schizophrenia (Subtypes, Comorbidity and Treatment)
Lab: Anatomy Quiz, Overview of Debate Structure


Lecture 6
Learning Module 4

Addiction (Neurobiology of Addiction)
Guest Speaker


Lecture 7
Learning Module 5

Addiction (Psychostimulants, Alcohol, Narcotics and Cannabinoids)
Debate Week 1



Lecture 8
Learning Module 6

Mid-Term Exam
Debate Week II


Lecture 9

Learning Module 7

Personality Disorders (Neurobiology, Subtypes and Treatment)
Critique and Presentation Skills Tutorial



Lecture 10

Learning Module 8

Mood Disorders (Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders)
Presentations Week 1



Lecture 11
Learning Module 9

Mood Disorders (Depression, Bipolar and Suicide)
Presentations Week 2


Lecture 12
Learning Module 10

Anxiety (Phobias, OCD, PTSD and Panic Disorder)
Presentations Week 3


Lecture 13
Learning Module 11

Developmental/Attention Disorders (Autism, ADHD)
Presentations Week 4


Lecture 14
Learning Module 12

Review and Questions
Final Presentations and Feedback


7. Additional Information/Statements:

Statement on Use of Electronic Devices
Tablets and computers permitted in the lectures/learning sections. Electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets and computers ARE NOT permitted in the tests or exams.

Statement on Academic Offences
“Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following website: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/scholastic_discipline_undergrad.pdf .”

“Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams may be subject to submission for
similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating.”

Absence from course commitments

A. Absence for medical illness:

Students must familiarize themselves with the Policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness: https://studentservices.uwo.ca/secure/index.cfm

Statement from the Dean’s Office, Faculty of Science
If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to the Dean's office as soon as possible and contact your instructor immediately. It is the student's responsibility to make alternative arrangements with their instructor once the accommodation has been approved and the instructor has been informed. In the event of a missed final exam, a "Recommendation of Special Examination" form must be obtained from the Dean's Office immediately. For further information please see: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/medical.pdf

A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness, should use the Student Medical Certificate when visiting an off-campus medical facility or request a Record's Release Form (located in the Dean's Office) for visits to Student Health Services.
The form can be found at: https://studentservices.uwo.ca/secure/medical_document.pdf

B. Absence for non-medical reasons:
Absences from tests, exams, debates, presentations or assignments will be permitted for compassionate reasons. However, documentation is required and must be submitted by the student directly to the appropriate Faculty Dean`s Office and not to the instructor. It will subsequently be the Dean`s Office that will determine if accommodation is warranted.

C. Special Examinations
A Special Examination is any examination other than the regular examination, and it may be offered only with the permission of the Dean of the Faculty in which the student is registered, in consultation with the instructor and Department Chair. Permission to write a Special Examination may be given on the basis of compassionate or medical grounds with appropriate supporting documents.
A Special Examination must be written at the University or an Affiliated University College no later than 30 days after the end of the examination period involved. To accommodate unusual circumstances, a date later than this may be arranged at the time permission is first given by the Dean of the Faculty. The Dean will consult with the instructor and Department Chair and, if a later date is arranged, will communicate this to Registrarial Services. If a student fails to write a scheduled Special Examination, permission to write another Special Examination will be granted only with the permission of the Dean in exceptional circumstances and with appropriate supporting documents. In such a case, the date of this Special Examination normally will be the scheduled date for the final exam the next time the course is offered.

Support Services:
Registrarial Services: http://www.registrar.uwo.ca

Academic Counselling (Science and Basic Medical Sciences): http://www.uwo.ca/sci/counselling/index.html

USC Student Support Services: http://westernusc.ca/service
Student Development Services: http://www.sdc.uwo.ca
Student Health Services: http://www.shs.uwo.ca/
Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Mental Health@Western http://www.uwo.ca/uwocom/mentalhealth/ for a complete list of options about how to obtain help.