Neuroscience and Behavior

Renae Brodie, Chair

Dianne Baranowski, Academic Department Coordinator

105 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, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology

Renae Brodie, Professor of Biological Sciences

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

Mara Breen, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education, Teaching Fall Only

Kathryn McMenimen, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Kenneth Colodner, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior, Teaching Fall Only

Jared Schwartzer, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education

André White, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Teaching Fall Only

John Roche, Visiting Lecturer in Neuroscience and Behavior

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 52 credits:

Required Core Curriculum
NEURO-100Introduction to Neuroscience and Behavior4
CHEM-101General Chemistry I4
or CHEM-160 Integrated Introduction to Biology and Chemistry
CHEM-201General Chemistry II4
CHEM-202Organic Chemistry I4
MATH-101Calculus I4
PSYCH-204Research Methods in Psychology4
BIOL-200Introductory Biology II: How Organisms Develop4
BIOL-230Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology4
A course in quantitative inference:4
Elementary Data Analysis and Experimental Design
or STAT-242 Intermediate Statistics
Two of the following laboratory-based courses at the 300 level:8
Vertebrate Anatomy
Behavioral Ecology
Conference Course: 'Addiction, Superior Memory, and Diseases of the Brain'
Human Physiology
Artificial Intelligence
Topics: 'Natural Language Processing'
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Independent Study (4 credits)
Laboratory in Perception and Cognition: 'Cognition and Literacy'
Lab in Biological Bases of Behavior:
A third 300-level course from the preceding list, or from the following:4
Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior
Chemistry of Biomolecules
Glial Cells in Health and Disease
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.
  • Students who declare a neuroscience and behavior 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, J. Roche
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-309 Topics in Neuroscience and Behavior

NEURO-309SP Topics in Neuroscience and Behavior: 'Synaptic Plasticity: Synaptic Mechanisms Underlying Learning and Memory'

Spring. Credits: 4

Much of what is currently known of memory is thought to involve synaptic modifications on both short and long time scales in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. This course will look at the experimental attempts to understand learning and memory. Students will utilize critical analysis of primary literature in order to gain a broad understanding of the historical underpinnings of the field as well as the most recent advances. Primary research papers will be analyzed and discussed, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, synaptic tagging, and place cells of the hippocampus.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
J. Roche
Prereq: NEURO-100 or BIOL-230.

NEURO-324 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Not Scheduled for This Year. 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-331 Glial Cells in Health and Disease

Fall. Credits: 4

This course will explore the "other" cells in your brain, the glial cells. While neuronal cells receive most of the attention, glial cells are now recognized as essential players in normal brain physiology. Through the critical analysis of primary literature, we will highlight recent advances in glial cell biology and discuss how the various glial cell subtypes (astrocytes, microglia, myelinating cells, etc.) contribute to the healthy and diseased brain. We will examine the glial contribution to a variety of disorders (e.g. multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, neurodegenerative diseases, etc.) as we cultivate a better understanding of these often overlooked brain cells.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
K. Colodner
Prereq: NEURO-100 and BIOL-230.

NEURO-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.