Neuroscience and Behavior

Renae Brodie, Chair

Dianne Baranowski, Academic Department Coordinator

104 Clapp Laboratory

Overview and Contact Information

The program in neuroscience and behavior is intended for students with strong, integrative interests in both biological sciences and psychology and in the biological bases of behavior.

See Also


This area of study is administered by the Neuroscience and Behavior Committee:

Katherine Binder, Professor of Psychology

Gary Gillis, Professor of Biological Sciences; Associate Dean of Faculty; Director of the Science Center

Karen Hollis, Professor of Psychology and Education

Will Millard, Professor of Psychology and Education

Sarah Bacon, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Renae Brodie, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Mara Breen, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education

Kenneth Colodner, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior

Kathryn McMenimen, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jared Schwartzer, Assistant Professor of Psychology Education

Andre White, Visiting Lecturer in Biological Sciences

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 52 credits:

Required Core Curriculum
NEURO-100Introduction to Neuroscience and Behavior 4
CHEM-101General Chemistry I 4
or CHEM-160 Integrated Introduction to Biology and Chemistry
CHEM-201General Chemistry II 4
CHEM-202Organic Chemistry I 4
MATH-101Calculus I 4
PSYCH-200Research Methods in Psychology 4
BIOL-200Introductory Biology II: How Organisms Develop 4
BIOL-333Neurobiology 4
BIOL-230Cell and Molecular Biology 4
A course in quantitative inference:4
Elementary Data Analysis and Experimental Design
or STAT-140 Intro Ideas/Applic Statistics and STAT-242 Intermediate Statistics
Two of the following laboratory-based courses at the 300 level:8
Vertebrate Anatomy
Behavioral Ecology
Conference Course: 'Biology of Aging'
Human Physiology
Laboratory in Perception and Cognition: 'Cognition and Literacy'
Laboratory in Behavioral Neuroscience
Artificial Intelligence
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Independent Study (4 credits)
A third 300-level course from the preceding list, or from the following:4
Conference Course: 'The Neurobiology of Stress'
Chemistry of Biomolecules
Seminar in Perception and Cognition: 'Art, Music, and the Brain'
Seminar in Perception and Cognition: 'Language and Thought'
Seminar: Biological Bases of Behavior: 'Clinical Neuroscience'
Total Credits52

Additional Specifications

  • Students planning postgraduate study in a related discipline or in medicine are urged to participate in independent laboratory research within either or both departments.
  • Neuroscience and behavior is an interdisciplinary major. Students who pursue an interdisciplinary major automatically fulfill the College’s “outside the major” requirement.

Course Offerings

NEURO-100 Introduction to Neuroscience and Behavior

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This comprehensive survey course explores the brain and the biological basis of behavior. We will examine the anatomy of the nervous system and the unique properties of the cells that make up the brain. We will discuss the mechanisms by which individual brain cells communicate with each other, and how small networks of cells underlie more complex processes such as perception, learning, and behavior. In labs, students will perform experiments that expand upon and reinforce these ideas through hands-on exercises.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
K. Colodner
Restrictions: This course is limited to first-year students.
Coreq: NEURO-100L.

NEURO-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

NEURO-309MA Topics in Neuroscience and Behavior: 'Mind and Action'

Spring. Credits: 4

Our minds can direct and control our bodies. See for yourself: if you decide to lift your arm, and try to do it, your arm will probably go up! This course is about the relationship between our minds, bodies, and behavior. What is the mind? How did it make your arm go up? How is lifting your arm different from an involuntary muscle spasm? The answers are not as straightforward as you might think. We confront powerful arguments that the mind is not reducible to the brain or any part of the body. We explore how philosophers and neuroscientists think about the difference between intentional behaviors, like lifting your arm, and unintentional movements, like tics, twitches, and yawns.

Crosslisted as: PHIL-350MA
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Ali
Prereq: 8 credits in Philosophy, or 4 credits in Philosophy and 4 credits in Neuroscience and Behavior.

NEURO-324 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Spring. Credits: 4

This course will explore cellular and molecular mechanisms of nervous system development and function through lectures, laboratory exercises, and the critical analysis of primary literature. Topics include synapse formation and synaptic transmission, neuronal-glial interactions, the molecular basis of behavior, and applied genetic engineering techniques.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
K. Colodner
Prereq: NEURO-100 and BIOL-230 (or BIOL-220).
Notes: This course meets the 300-level laboratory-based course requirement for the Neuroscience and Behavior major.

NEURO-330 Biology of Neurological Diseases

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Biology of Neurological Diseases will explore the molecular and cellular basis of neurological diseases. We will investigate the biological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. We will focus on animal models used to investigate pathogenic mechanisms and the biology underlying therapeutic strategies. This class will rely heavily on primary research articles and in-class discussions.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
K. Colodner
Prereq: BIOL-210, BIOL-220 or BIOL-230, and PSYCH-250 or NEURO-100.

NEURO-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.