ABB Education

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ABB Curriculum Model

A transdisciplinary approach to promoting wellbeing, resilience, and the optimization of development.

We seek to promote wellbeing, resilience, and the optimization of development by supporting learning opportunities (classes, modules, and experiential learning) that emphasize the interdependent nature of brain, behavior, and context (social and environmental).

ABB Curriculum, Destination Areas, Virginia Tech

Figure 1: The arrows indicate the ways in which the three elements of the ABB model can adapt and interact to benefit, maintenance or detriment of one another.


Adaptation, Interactivity, and Interdependence

See Figure 1.

Students in ABB courses will learn how social and environmental contexts can have direct impacts on physical brain development, such as with the victims of the Flint water crisis where environmental toxins have derailed normative brain function. The ABB model pushes beyond the physical interactions to also consider the impact of social and political dysfunction in creating a toxic context for Flint's inhabitants. From a more optimistic perspective, the ABB model also recognizes that regions of the human brain with highly specialized functions, such as empathy and ethical reasoning are also directly involved in the ongoing solutions to the Flint problem.

While is it clear that much of human behavior is dependent on the physical state of the brain, the brain is also dependent on our behavior. The ABB perspective will also help students understand that health behaviors, such as dietary choices and habits of physical activity can directly alter brain structure and chemical composition.

Where physical and biological trauma, as well as addiction undermine routine performance and quality of life, the ABB curriculum feature research demonstrating how humans are capable of restructuring the brain and changing behavior to recover of lost function. Additionally, the ABB model asks us to consider the ways in which behavior change is influenced by both individual motivations and contextual factors, such as social support and access to adequate care during the recovery process.

ABB's multi-level, tripartite approach can guide inquiry and problem solving for many of today's "wicked" problems. For instance, ABB can bring additonal weight to issues equity and social change, as breakthroughs in neuroscience have revealed the detrimental effects of poverty and discrimination on the structure and function of the brain. Issues of aging and the transformation of a dysfunctional health-care system can also be informed by ABB's approach. The ABB model provides a more complete approach than the old mechanistic model of medicine, recognizing the importance of social and environmental context, as well as health behaviors, in the prevention and treatment of disease and the optimization of aging.

Behavior, Thought, and Belief

Conscious and unconscious responses and patterns of activity, such as choices, habits, creative efforts and task performance.

Brain and Biologic Systems

The multi-level, biological, and structural underpinnings of behavior, including the Brain and extended networks, such as the PNS and endocrine system.

Social and Environmental Context

The physical and informational ecologies that occur at the individual, family, community, institutional and cultural levels across time.

ABB Pathways Minor

pending official approval

The ABB minor will bring students from across the university together into interdisciplinary spaces where the natural sciences and social sciences converge to give us a deeper understanding of the interdependencies of brain, behavior, and environment.

ABB provides students with a scientific, multilevel framework to analyze human behavior, including factors that contribute to optimal growth and development across the lifespan. The issues covered in this minor are global in nature and central to questions of identity, equity, and ethical considerations that VT students should be aware of as they endeavor to invent the future.

BMES 2984 Concussions: Medicine, Science, and Society (4, ER)
HD 2014 Integrative Practices for Health, Wellbeing, and Resilience (3, 7, ER)
NEUR 2464 Neuroscience and Society (4, ER)

BMES 2984 Concussions: Medicine, Science, and Society (4, ER)
NEUR 2464 Neuroscience and Society (4, ER) HD 2014 (3, 7, ER)
HD 1004 Human Development I (3, ER)
HD 2004 HD II: Adulthood and Aging (3, IGA)
PSYC 1004 Introductory Psychology (3, IGA)
PSYC 2064 Nervous Systems and Behavior (4, ER)
PSYC 3024 Human Behaviors Natural Environment (3, 7, IGA)
HIST 3714 War and Medicine(1a, 2, ER)
HNFE 2664 Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Exercise (3, IGA)
EDCO 2004 Healthy Relationships (3, 7, IGA)

STS 2154 Humanities, Technology, and Life Sciences
COMM 2134 Intro to Health Communication (3, ER)
EDEP 2444 Motivating Yourself and Others (3, IGA)
PSYC 2044 Psychology of Learning (3, ER)
PSYC 2034 Developmental Psychology (3, IGA)
PSYC 3014 Abnormal Psychology (3, ER)
PSYC 3024 Human Behaviors Natural Environment(3, 7, IGA)

PSYC 3054 Health Psychology
PSYC 4064 Physiological Psychology
PSYC 4074 Sensation and Perception
PSYC 4144 Cognitive Psychology
NEUR 2025 Introduction to Neuroscience I
NEUR 2026 Introduction to Neuroscience II
NEUR 3984 War and the Brain
NEUR/ECON/PSYC 4454 Neureconomics
HD 3114 Issues in Aging
HIST 3724 Disease Medicine and Health

HD 4714 Senior Capstone Seminar