2023-2024 / PSYC1087-1

Behavioural neuroscience and preclinical research


60h Th

Number of credits

 Master in psychology (120 ECTS)6 crédits 


André Ferrara, Etienne Quertemont


André Ferrara

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Lectures (30h).

This course begins with a presentation of the concept of animal model (typology, validity) followed by an overview of the main behavioral tests used in fundamental research to study learning and memory (in particular spatial and object recognition memory). Some of them, real Swiss army knives for the study of cognitive processes, will be detailed; the objective being to see how, from observable behavior, scientific inferences are made about unobservable processes. The strengths and weaknesses of such functional animal models will be examined using the ARRIVE guidelines.

Secondly, the possibilities of integrative animal models, including for alcoholism (E. Quertemont) and brain pathology (stroke, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease - A. Ferrara) will then be presented in a more specific manner; the notions of validity and translational preclinical research will be highlighted. The difficulties of the chosen integrative animal models will also be examined in the context of the reproducibility crisis and in that of ethics in animal research (ARRIVE, PREPARE guidelines and 3R rule).

Report (30h).

This will involve addressing a question related to the use of an animal model (to be agreed with one of the teachers).

The report dealing with a functional animal model will aim at presenting various tests used for the assessment of the same function (for example, the inhibitory control and impulsivity, motivation, attention, working memory, ...) by insisting on the definition of the function, the comparison to the same function in man, the good understanding and description of the tests (procedures, behavioral measures, ...), important factors which allocate the performance to the test, the question of the validity and of translational research, etc.

The report dealing with an integrative animal model will aim for example at presenting a battery of tests used within the framework of the assessment of the animal model of a human pathology (for example, neurodegenerative pathology or developpement disorder) by insisting on the definition of the pathology, the presentation of the symptoms which accompany it, the comparison of the pathology induced in the animal to the human pathology, the good understanding and the description of the tests used (procedures, behavioral measures, ...), the question of the validity of the test battery, etc.

The report (20-25 pages) will be based on the reading of several scientific articles including at least one recent review (if possible) as well as of several empirical or methodological articles.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

Understanding the determinant role of the cognitive and behavioural animal models (without neglecting their limitations and drawbacks) relatively to psychology, neurosciences and preclinical research.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills


Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Active participation in the seminar. Analysis of scientific texts. Written report.

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

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Individual written report.

Recommended or required readings

PDF files associated with the oral course available on eCampus; reference articles provided by the professor in relation to the material of the ex cathedra course.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Written work / report

Additional information:

The final grade is based on a written exam and a report. The student must obtain a minimum mark of 10/20 in each part. If one part is failed, the final grade will be the deficiency grade. If both parts are failed, the final mark will be the average of the deficient marks. If both parts are passed, the final mark will be the average of the two marks. In the second session, the student must re-submit the deficient part(s).

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The report must be submitted on the day of the written examination or on a date agreed with the teacher supervising the report.

See eCampus for further information.


a.ferrara@uliege.be (tél.: +32 4 366 22 32).

equertemont@uliege.be (tél : +32 4 366 21 05).

Association of one or more MOOCs