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PSY3045 : The neurobiology of learning and memory processes

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Mrs Barbara-Anne Robertson
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


Our memory, especially our long term memory, holds the secrets to our own personal history. Memory itself however, is fragile, fallible, and is susceptible to the deleterious effects of ageing, disease, mental illness, and trauma. The aims of this module are to further students understanding of short and long term memory processes, the theories that underpin them, and to foster an appreciation for the animal models used to empirically explore these processes.

Outline Of Syllabus

Ethics of using animal models in research
Models of short term and working memory
Declarative vs non-declarative memory:
Triple dissociations:
Episodic memory processes
Procedural memory processes
Emotional memory processes
Associative learning
Historical autobiographical memory: what does one remember from childhood?
False memory formation and recall
Episodic memory under stress: understanding PTSD and depression

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical61:006:00Student activity based on lecture material that supports development of project for assessment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading164:0064:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Discussion of relevant literature/reading/research
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The chosen teaching methods encourage students to take an active role in their learning experience. Lectures are used to impart information and discuss relevant concepts. Lectures will be complemented by tutorials and practical sessions.

Tutorials will allow active discussion about relevant research such that students can apply what they’ve learned from guided independent study and for course work.

Practical sessions will provide students with support to develop an empirical report that will form the assessment.

There will be an element of group work which will contribute to their final assessed project, this will allow them to develop their collaborative working skills and encourage them to negotiate and build relationships with others. The group work component will require students to peer-review the work of others, which requires applying their own knowledge and imparting it professionally in the form of constructive feedback.

Students will be expected to complete guided independent study in order to help them prepare for lectures, tutorials, and practical sessions and will be encouraged to further their own specific interests in memory research.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M100See Assessment Rationale & Relationship for further information
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Practical/lab report: Students will produce a lab report or literature review in the form of a research paper/journal article that will be peer-reviewed by classmates and edited by the module leader to produce a mock journal issue. Word count = 2500 words

The assessment choice, a lab report/research paper will allow students to produce a report based on data collected virtually from a mock animal model experiment, or a literature review based on a topic relevant to the course material. For the report, it will include the key components of a scientific report including an abstract, introduction (including short literature review, rationale, and research question(s)), method, results, discussion, references. Students will choose an animal model they find interesting, research independently further details about the model, and then design either a virtual experiment to explore some aspect of memory function or review the psychological literature to assess a question relevant to current research findings. For the virtual experiment, data will be collected from a simulation run during practical sessions, analysed using statistical software, and the findings reported. This assessment choice assesses the students’ ability to evaluate and critically analyse psychological research and to communicate it clearly. This assessment requires critical thinking, creativity, and originality as they are required to develop their own research question and then assess it through either empirical or evaluative means.

In order to complete this report, students must do the following:
1. Submit a draft for comment
2. Comment on a peer's draft
3. Respond to peers' comments
4. Submit final revised version

This report/review will make up 100% of the final grade. Of this 100% assessment:
- 80% for the final written report
- 10% providing feedback on peer's draft report
- 10% for thoughtful integration of feedback, providing justification for acceptance/rejection of feedback.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.

Reading Lists