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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021

About Amherst College

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021

Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021

Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021

Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021

Five College Programs & Certificates

Five College Programs & Certificates

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021

Honors & Fellowships

Honors & Fellowships

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen*, Kim, Raskin‡, Trapani; Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).
  • Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.
  • Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

  • CHEM 151 (or 155)
  • CHEM 161
  • CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)

Biology:

  • BIOL 191
  • Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

  • STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) or
  • MATH/STAT 135 or
  • STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) or
  • BIOL 210 or
  • PSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

  • PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124
  • MATH 111, 121, 211
  • If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.
  • MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.
  • The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

  • NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)
  • NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)
  • Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

  • NEUR 325 Psychopharmacology
  • NEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

  • NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratory
  • NEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

  • NEUR 361 Consciousness and the Brain
  • NEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

  • An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above
  • An additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above
  • An additional human neuroscience course from item (5) above
  • NEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)
  • NEUR 425 Systems Neuroscience
  • NEUR 450 Seminar in Physiology
  • BIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 260 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)
  • BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)
  • BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity
  • PSYC 233 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 234 Memory
  • PSYC 236 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2021-22.
† On leave fall semester 2021-22.
‡ On leave spring semester 2021-22.

211 Cognitive Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 211 and NEUR 211) Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301) An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease. We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses. We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration. In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 214 or BIOL 260 and CHEM 161/CHEM 165. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Sally Kim.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

317 Neurobiology of Appetite

Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Class meets once a week for 165 minutes. Spring semester. Prof. Baird.  

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212/NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. The key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Baird.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Cohen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

(Offered as BIOL 411 and NEUR 411) Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. 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.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450) Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of BIOL-214, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring Semester. Professor Trapani.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, January 2021, Fall 2021