Neuroscience

Core Coursework

NSC 201 – Mind & Brain

The major trajectory of this course is to evaluate the project of neuroscience, and in so doing, assess the possibility that the mind is manifested in and caused by the brain.  We will consider neural arguments about various states of mind, including dreaming, language, selfhood, agency, attention, and intention from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.  Class discussions will center on working definitions of consciousness, experimental approaches to consciousness and self-knowledge, and dysregulations of mind.  A laboratory will explore systems of consciousness from a physiological and phenomenological perspective. Three class hours and one and one-half laboratory hours per week.
Meets general academic requirement SC.

NSC 310 – Brain & Behavior

An examination of the biological basis of behavior in humans and other animals.  Topics discussed will include neuroanatomy; sensory and motor systems; psychopharmacology and drug abuse; motivated behaviors; learning and memory; and neurological and psychological disorders.  Research methods of behavioral neuroscience will be introduced through class discussions, relevant primary literature, and laboratory investigations. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week.
Prerequisite(s): PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology

NSC 311 – Neurons & Networks

An exploration of the molecular and cellular foundations of nervous system function.  Topics discussed will include the ionic and electrical properties of neurons; the biochemistry of synaptic signaling; structure and function of ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors; neuronal and synaptic plasticity; and the functional regulation of basic neuronal circuits.  Research methods of cellular and molecular neuroscience will be introduced through class discussions, relevant primary literature, and laboratory investigations. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week.
Prerequisite(s): BIO 152 - Principles of Biology III: Molecules & Cells.

NSC 401 – Advanced Seminar in Neuroscience (W, CUE)

This course serves as a graduate-style seminar for the senior neuroscience major and will stress reading and discussion of primary texts, independent research writing, and critical analysis of timely issues within the field.  Topics discussed may include synaptic mechanisms in memory and learning; analysis of simple neuronal circuits; cortical architecture; neuroendocrinology; the neural basis of sleep and dreaming; pain mechanisms and integration; neurogenetics; neural and psychological disorders; and/or the relationship of neuronal function to behavior and consciousness. Three class hours per week.
Prerequisite(s): NSC 201 - Mind & Brain, NSC 310 - Brain & Behavior, and NSC 311 - Neurons & Networks.
Meets general academic requirement W.

Neuroscience Seminars (List A Electives)

NSC 302 – States of Consciousness (W)

Critically examines the recent attempts by neuroscience to resolve the neural correlates of various states of consciousness.  Our class conversations will broadly center on the philosophical and physiological traditions that guide this work.  We will closely study the putative neural underpinnings of several states of consciousness, including sleep/dreaming, pain, meditation, ecstasy, and coma; in parallel, we will discuss how the resolution of neural function shapes and is shaped by social structures and cultural meanings.
Prerequisite(s): NSC 201 - Mind & Brain OR permission of instructor.
Meets general academic requirement W.


NSC 304 – Receptors & Channels (W)
A critical discussion of the structural and physiological principles of neurotransmitter receptor and ion channel signaling.  Course lectures will introduce the foundational theories and methods of molecular pharmacology, biophysics, and structural biology.  Topics discussed will include structural determinations of membrane proteins; receptor-ligand interactions; allosteric signaling of receptors; channel kinetics; and protein-protein signaling associations.  Relevant primary literature will be introduced through class discussions and independent critical analyses.
Prerequisite(s): NSC 311 - Neurons & Networks OR BIO 220 - Biochemistry OR permission of instructor.
Meets general academic requirement W.

NSC 306 – Neuroprosthetics
This course will explore the state-of-the-art in assistive devices that connect directly to the nervous system, including cochlar implants, neuroprosthetic limbs, and other technologies.  We will consider pragmatic questions of what signals to record, how to mathematically decode those signals, and how to maximize the useful lifetime of implanted devices.  We will also consider the social context in which these technologies have been introduced - and sometimes rejected - and will imagine the ethical landscape for future developments.
Prerequisite(s): BIO 152 - Principles of Biology III: Molecules & Cells

PSY 410 - Memory & Amnesia
This seminar will examine the broad categories of memory and amnesia.  Readings will be based entirely on primary literature, and class meetings will follow a discussion-based format.  Memory and amnesia will be examined via both psychological and biological perspectives and will include topics such as memory modulation and malleability, consolidation and reconsolidation, various forms of amnesia (e.g., retrograde and anterograde amnesia), recovery of memory, and memory-based treatments for some forms of psychological pathology (e.g., PTSD).
Open only to Psychology or Neuroscience majors.
Prerequisite(s): PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology, PSY 215 - Biological Psychology or NSC 310 - Brain & Behavior required.