The David S. Olton Behavioral Biology Program is an interdepartmental, interdivisional area major for those wishing to study the natural and social sciences in relation to human and animal behavior.
The interaction between behavior and biology takes place in both directions. On the one hand, biology influences behavior. For example, psychopharmacology has demonstrated the importance of neurochemical substances in the brain, and sociobiology has emphasized the role of genetic factors in behavior. On the other hand, behavior also influences biology. An individual’s perception and reaction to life events can have substantial effects on hormonal and physiological functions. In recognizing both of these interactions, behavioral biology seeks to establish a greater understanding of them through its interdisciplinary organization.
The interdisciplinary characteristics of behavioral biology provide excellent preparation for post-graduate work. For those interested in the health professions, behavioral biology can be integrated into a premedical curriculum and should provide a broad, humanistic perspective. For those who wish to pursue scientific careers in the neurosciences, especially psychopharmacology or behavioral neuroscience/physiological psychology, the program provides the appropriate preparation. Students interested in the fields of organismal or integrative biology should also consider behavioral biology as a major.