2023-2024 / PSYC0063-1

Behavioural neuroendocrinology


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in biology of organisms and ecology (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in psychology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


Charlotte Cornil

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Endocrinology studies hormones, the chemical messengers that are secreted in the bloodstream and delivered virtually to any cell of in the body. The brain is a target for hormones but also a source of hormones and is probably the most active endocrine organ and the one that produces the highest variety of hormones. Neuroendocrinolgy is the study of the interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system. In particular, neuroendocrinology investigates the neural control of hormonal secretions and the action of hormones on neurophysiological and behavioral processes. This integrated field of research is at the junction between endocrinology, development and adult neurobiology to understand the regulation of physiological and behavioral processes at the level of the whole organism. This course is not an exhaustive presentation of all hormones and all their actions on brain and behavior. Rather, after a general overview of the (neuro)endocrine system, it will illustrate the main principles of hormonal action on brain and behavior using selected examples. In order to help students understand how the current models were established, this course will also present the common techniques used in behavioral neuroendocrinology by means of concrete experimental examples.

Table of contents


Basic principles
- Neuroendocrine systems and feedback mechanisms
- Functions
- Hormone types and receptors
- Synthesis pathways


Control of sexual behavior
- The complexity of sexual behavior
- Principles of hormonal control
- Circuits controlling sexual behavior
- Examples of mechanisms of hormonal control
- Human sexual behavior

Sex differences
- Sex determination
- Sexual differentiation of brain and behavior in animal models
- Sexual differentiation of brain and behavior in humans

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- understand basic principles of neuroendocrinology (mode of action of hormones, feedback systems, ...) and the fundamental  role played by hormones the survival of organisms
- understand how hormones regulate complex behaviors
- understand how hormones influence the establishment of sex differences
- critically analyze a research paper in neuroendocrinology
- critically describe and analyze scientific results shown in class or similar
- reason about new problems based on class material

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Passive knowledge of English (reading only)

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Lectures during which the teacher will present the main notions of one chapter of the book. The teacher will put emphasis on the development of scientific reasoning and the ability to undertand how prevailing theories/model have been formulated.

Depending on the number of students registered for this course, presentations by students could also be organized. Discussion with the students is encouraged.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Face-to-face course

Recommended or required readings

This course is based on chapters 1 to 6 of "An introduction to behavioral endocrinology" by Randy J. Nelson and Lance Kriegsfeld (5th edition)

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

Additional information:

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

Additional information:

A final oral exam will be organized based on one (or two) open question(s) to evaluate

1/ the understanding of major concepts discussed in class.

2/ the ability to describe scientific results (seen in class or not) and discuss them along with the concepts seen in class

This question will be the initial step to discuss the major concepts covered during the course.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

Refer to CELCAT to know the exact location and time of each lecture


Dr Charlotte Cornil, charlotte.cornil@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs