Fall 2021 - PSYC 388 D100

Biological Rhythms and Sleep (3)

Class Number: 2673

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 3149, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    SWH 10041, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PSYC 201 and 280.



Behaviour and physiology are regulated by biological clocks, which function to synchronize the organism optimally with its environment. In this course we examine the adaptive role of clocks in animal behaviour, the neural and endocrine mechanisms of daily, monthly and yearly rhythms, and the relevance of clocks, rhythms and sleep to human performance and psychopathology. We will also consider the mechanisms and functions of sleep states.


The behaviour of humans and animals is characterized by rhythmicity in the hourly, daily, monthly and yearly domains. In this course we will discuss the functions and mechanisms of rhythmicity, with special emphasis on daily rhythms controlled by circadian clocks in the brain and body.


Major questions to be addressed are:
1. What is the evidence that biological clocks regulate human and animal behaviour, how did such clocks evolve, and what are they good for?
2. How do we identify and study clocks in the brains of humans and animals?
3. How do biological clocks keep time?
4. How are biological clocks synchronized to the environment?
5. Can we control biological clocks by environmental, behavioral and/or pharmacological stimuli?
6. How do biological clocks control sleep-wake states and other brain functions?
7. What is sleep, and why do we need it?
8. What is the relation between biological clocks, sleep and our physical and mental health?
9. How do rhythms and sleep affect cognitive performance, mood, physiological systems, development and aging?


  • Mid-Term Exam: 30%
  • In class Quizzes (2): 20%
  • Term Paper/Project: 20%
  • Final Exam: 30%

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.