Neuroscience

Neuroscience explores the structure and function of the nervous system and its roles in human and animal behavior, perception, development, and physiology. As an interdisciplinary field, neuroscience combines the theoretical foundations and methodologies of experimental psychology, biology, physiology, pharmacology, biophysics, and mathematics. A neuroscience major prepares the student for graduate programs in neuroscience itself and as a double major or minor enhances the competitive position of students for graduate programs in any of the contributing fields, as well as medical, veterinary, dental, and allied health professions.

The student learning objectives for students majoring in neuroscience are:
I. to demonstrate an understanding of the central theoretical framework of modern neuroscience;
II. to recognize and explain common patterns in the development, organization, function, and diversity of animal nervous systems;
III. to develop and demonstrate proficiency in some of the central methodologies and experimental techniques of modern neuroscience, including electrophysiology from cells, nerves and networks, biobehavioral recording, neurohistology, and neuropharmacology;
IV. to interrelate and appreciate the unique contributions of the multiple scientific disciplines which contribute to the field of neuroscience and its current literature; and
V. to apply knowledge about the nervous system to exploring and understanding related fields in biology and psychology, such as development, anatomy, physiology, behavior, cognition, and learning.
 

Major requirements: Neuroscience: The major program requires a minimum of 51 hours of course work, including the following:

I. Introductory Context Courses (6 courses; 22 hours):
BIO 110 Principles of Biology I (4 hours)
BIO 112 Principles of Biology II (4 hours)
CHM 101 General Chemistry I (4 hours)
CHM 102 General Chemistry II (4 hours)
MAT 140* Precalculus (3 hours)
PSY 101 General Psychology (3 hours)
 
II. Intermediate Methodology Courses (any 2 courses; 6-7 hours):
BIO 203 Research Methods in Biology (4 hours)
PSY 220 Statistical Methods (3 hours)
PSY 230 Reading, Writing, and Review (3 hours)
 
III. Neuroscience Core Courses (any 2 courses; 7-8 hours):
PSY/NSC 207 Principles of Neuroscience (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 325 Neurophysiology (4 hours)
NSC 335 Neuronal Networks and Systems (3 hours)
 
IV. Neuroscience Content Electives in Biology (any 2 courses; 7-8 hours):
BIO 210 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 315 Animal Behavior (4 hours)
BIO 320 Molecular Cell Biology (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 325** Neurophysiology (4 hours)
BIO 340 Animal Physiology (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 341 Developmental Biology (4 hours)
BIO 396*** Special Topics in Biology (3, 4 hours)
NSC 396 Special Topics in Neuroscience (3, 4 hours)
 
V. Neuroscience Content Electives in Psychology (any 2 courses; 6-8 hours):
PSY/NSC 207** Principles of Neuroscience (4 hours)
PSY/NSC 260 Drugs and Behavior (3 hours)
PSY/NSC 310 Cognitive Psychology (3 hours)
PSY/NSC 314 Learning and Memory (4 hours)
PSY 396*** Special Topics in Psychology (3, 4 hours)
NSC 396 Special Topics in Neuroscience (3, 4 hours)
 
VI. Senior Capstone Course (either course; 3 hours):
BIO 440 Senior Integrative Exercise in Biology (3 hours)
PSY 441 Senior Seminar: Research (3 hours)
*May substitute any calculus course; MAT 205 recommended.
**If not used to fulfill set III - Neuroscience Core Courses requirement.
***Must be an approved Special Topics course directly relevant to neuroscience.

Research in Neuroscience (NSC 451/499), Biology (BIO 451/499), or Psychology (PSY 451/499) is also strongly recommended.

For students planning application to graduate or professional programs the following additional courses are strongly recommended:
CHM 221, 222 Organic Chemistry I & II
PHY 115/121 and PHY 116/122 College/General Physics I & II
MAT 205 Calculus I
BIO/PSY 451/499 Directed Research/Honors Research
 

Integrative Experience: The integrative experience requirement is met with BIO 440 Senior Integrative Exercise in Biology or PSY 441 Senior Seminar: Research. In these courses, students work individually to research a focused topic integrating neuroscience concepts and methods with those of another discipline. Students work collaboratively in a small group to organize oral presentations incorporation individual topics into a broader theme, question, or problem. Students present their work at the end of the semester.

Professional Development: Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation. The neuroscience professional experience requirement can be met by involvement in any of the following related activities: internship, independent study, assisting a faculty member with the instruction of a regular teaching laboratory (teaching assistant), working with a faculty member as part of a laboratory or field research project.

Minor requirements Neuroscience: The minor program requires a minimum of 29 hours of course work, including the following:

I. Introductory Context Courses (2 courses; 7 hours):
BIO110 Principles of Biology I (4 hours)
or BIO 103 Human Biology (4 hours)
PSY 101 General Psychology (3 hours)
 
II. Intermediate Methods Courses (all 3 courses from one of the following two sets; 9-12 hours):
Biology Set:
BIO 112 Principles of Biology II (4 hours)
BIO 203 Research Methods in Biology (4 hours)
CHM 101 General Chemistry (4 hours)
or Psychology set
PSY 220 Statistical Methods (3 hours)
PSY 230 Reading, Writing, and Review (3 hours)
PSY 305 Research Methods in the Behavioral Sciences (3 hours)
 
III. Neuroscience Core Courses (any 2 courses; 7-8 hours)
PSY/NSC 207 Principles of Neuroscience (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 325 Neurophysiology (4 hours)
NSC 335 Neuronal Networks and Systems (3 hours)
 
IV. Neuroscience Elective Courses (any 2 courses; 6-8 hours)
PSY/NSC 207* Principles of Neuroscience (4 hours)
PSY/NSC 260 Drugs and Behavior (3 hours)
PSY/NSC 310 Cognitive Psychology (3 hours)
PSY/NSC 314 Learning and Memory (4 hours)
BIO 210 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 315 Animal Behavior (4 hours)
BIO 320 Molecular Cell Biology (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 325* Neurophysiology (4 hours)
NSC 335* Neuronal Networks and Systems (3 hours)
BIO 340 Animal Physiology (4 hours)
BIO/NSC 341 Developmental Biology (4 hours)
**BIO 396 Special Topics in Biology (3,4 hours)
**PSY 396 Special Topics in Psychology (3,4 hours)
NSC 396 Special Topics in Neuroscience (3, 4 hours)
 

*If not used to fulfill set III - Neuroscience Core Courses requirement.

**Must be an approved Special Topics course directly relevant to neuroscience.
 

Neuroscience (NSC) Course Descriptions

207: Principles of Neuroscience.
Goal: To provide the student with an understanding of physiological processes that mediate psychological functioning.
Content : The biological bases of sensation, perception, learning, memory, cognition, motivation, emotion, and consciousness; overview of recent and significant developments in this area.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: PSY 101.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as PSY 207.

260: Drugs and Behavior.
Goal:
To examine the major classes of drugs which affect behavior, including drugs of abuse and drugs used in the treatment of mental disorders.
Content: The pharmacology of drugs of abuse and drugs used in treating mental disorders is explored. Exploration of historical background of drugs as well as social context.
Taught: Spring.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as PSY 260.

310: Cognitive Psychology.
Goal: To foster an understanding of the human mind and how it operates by discussing the major theories, concepts, and research in cognitive psychology.
Content: Detailed examination of how humans encode, perceive, remember, and use the information encountered in daily life. Topics examined include pattern recognition, mental imagery, attention, memory, language, problem solving, creativity, and artificial intelligence.
Taught: Fall. Alternate years.
Prerequisites : PSY 101.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as PSY 310.

314: Learning and Memory.
Goal: To provide students with a clear and comprehensible integration of classic and contemporary achievements in the field of learning and memory.
Content: Principles of respondent and operant conditioning as well as memory and cognition in terms of possible mechanisms, current research, the theory.
Taught: Spring. Alternate years.
Prerequisites : PSY 101 and MAT 220; PSY 305 or BIO 203; or permission of program director.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as PSY 314.

315: Animal Behavior.
Goal: To familiarize the student with the biological study of animal behavior. To introduce the student to the major historical and contemporary perspectives of behavioral study. To allow the student to practice field and laboratory methods of behavioral sampling and analysis.
Content: A practice-oriented survey of contemporary approaches to animal behavior, including behavioral genetics, behavioral development, neuroethology, behavioral endocrinology, behavioral ecology and evolution, ethology and sociobiology.
Taught: Fall. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: BIO 103 or 110; BIO 203 or PSY 305.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as BIO 315.

325: Neurophysiology.
Goal: To familiarize the student with the theoretical bases and experimental methods of modern neurobiology, appropriate to studying the structure and function of individual nerve cells and small neuronal systems.
Content: A practice-oriented introduction to cellular and systems neurobiology. Laboratory exercise and discussion topics will include electrophysiological, histophysiological, and neurochemical techniques, neuronal membrane dynamics, synaptic function and plasticity, sensory coding, sensorimotor coordination, central pattern generation, and network function. Methods of study will include electrophysiological recording from invertebrate and embryonic vertebrate preparations, neurochemical and microsurgical manipulation, computer and electronic simulations, and correlational network analysis.
Taught : Fall. Alternate years.
Prerequisites : BIO 103 or 110; BIO 203 or PSY 305.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as BIO 325.

335: Neuronal Networks and Systems.
Goal:
To familiarize the student with the scientific questions, theories, methods., and practices of studying neuronal networks and systems in animals.To become conversant with the primary scientific literature in network and systems neuroscience, as well as functional neuroethology.
Content: A seminar--style course which samples from the range of sensory, motor, and associational neuronal networks and systems in invertebrate and vertebrate animals and the experimental and analytical approaches used to understand them. Instructor - and student-led discussions will use both review texts and the primary neuroscience literature of particularly well-understood systems as source material.This will be supplemented with hands-on exploration of computer-based simulations and models of neuronal networks. Specific topics might include, for example, detection, discrimination, and topographical mapping in visual and olfactory systems, owl and anuran auditory localization, fish electroreception, bat echolocation, crustacean and teleost escape behavior, coordination of leech swimming, locust flight, and birdsong, and the neuronal substrates of daily and seasonal rhythms.
Taught: Fall. Alternate Years.
Prerequisites: PSY 101; BIO 103 or BIO 110.
Credit: 3 hours.

341: Developmental Biology.
Goal : To introduce the student to the processes and structures involved in the ontogeny of animals.
Content: The development of animals from gametogenesis through fertilization, gastrulation, and organogenesis, including intra-and extracellular regulation and control of developmental mechanisms and structures. A comparison of the developmental processes of protostomes and deuterostomes.
Taught: Spring Alternate years.
Prerequisites: BIO 110, 112, and 203.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as BIO 341.

396: Special Topics in Neuroscience.
Goal: To understand psychological topics not covered in-depth in other courses offered in the department.
Content: Topics vary.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: None.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as PSY (if content applies). A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.

451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To provide opportunities to engage in faculty-supervised or student-controlled research projects. To study a topic in-
depth not ordinarily offered by the department.
Content: Topics vary; examples.
Taught: Fall, Spring.
Prerequisites: Major of senior standing, and consent of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.

452: Field Study.
Goal: To gain experience in application of psychological findings to community settings.
Content: Varies with instructor.
Taught: Fall, Spring.
Prerequisites: Appropriate background and permission of intern supervisor.
Credit: 1-12 hours.

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)
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