Neuroscience studies the basic functions of the brain and nervous system as well as brain-behavior relationships in order to understand the roles they play in regulating both animal and human behavior. A thorough knowledge of the functions of the nervous system is essential to understanding the vicissitudes of psychological experience, general behavior and clinical disorders. Therefore, the study of the nervous system and the brain — anatomically, physiologically and biophysically, at both the microscopic and macroscopic levels — is central to the Neuroscience Program.
In recent years, neuroscience has become the most rapidly developing interdisciplinary area in the sciences. This field integrates the knowledge, research methods and modern laboratory technology of biology, chemistry, psychology and other scientific fields toward the common goal of understanding animal and human behavior. For this reason, the program's curriculum and list of faculty reflect a diversity of subdisciplines within a variety of departments. A primary objective of this program is to prepare students for entrance into graduate training or research occupations in neuroscience, neurochemistry, neurobiology, anatomy, physiology, physiological psychology, clinical psychology, behavioral science and the health sciences (medicine and allied fields).
Students who are considering a concentration or a major in neuroscience should inquire about the program from any of the affiliated faculty members and also should consult with the department chair.
NEUR 212 is the entryway into the neuroscience curriculum. It begins by emphasizing that neuroscience is truly an interdisciplinary field. After covering brain evolution and the genetic basis of behavior, there is a review of the organization of the nervous system and the processes responsible for neural conduction and synaptic transmission. This knowledge is then applied to a comprehensive examination of the neurochemical, sensory, motor, developmental, motivational, cognitive and emotional processes and structures that influence both normal and abnormal behavior.
The neuroscience major is intended primarily for students who are planning to attend graduate school in the many specialized fields of neuroscience, such as medical neuroscience, developmental neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience or behavioral neuroscience. It also is an excellent major for students who are seriously interested in pursuing research careers or becoming clinical practitioners concerned with the biochemical or the biopsychological aspects of the nervous system or behavior (e.g., psychopharmacology, psychiatry, clinical neuropsychology).
The following requirements for the neuroscience major and concentration apply to the class of 2020 and those following.
Required Core Courses (4.25–5.0 units) depends on required laboratory and Chemistry course
Neuroscience Required Courses (2.0 units)
Required Laboratories (Neuroscience/Biology/Psychology) (0.25–0.5 units)
One of the following laboratory courses:
Biology Required Courses (1.50 units)
Chemistry Required Courses (0.5–1.0 unit)
One (1.0) unit of the two (2.0) units of electives must come from the Neuroscience electives list. The other until can be any two additional courses from the list.
AND one of the following chemistry courses:
One (1) unit from the elective list above for the major.
The Senior Capstone consists of an original research proposal, written in a format of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) grant. The capstone is completed in the fall of the student's senior year and is evaluated by two members of the neuroscience department faculty.
Students can gain research experience by participating in independent research (NEUR 385) under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Although independent research is not required for the major, conducting research is a valuable educational experience, particularly for students planning to pursue graduate or medical training.
Seniors participating in the Honors Program (NEUR 497Y-498Y) must complete an honors project and pass an oral exam. Assessment of the honors candidate is conducted by the thesis advisor, two additional members of the Neuroscience department and an outside examiner brought in by the department.
Any two Neuroscience courses may be paired to satisfy the natural science diversification requirement.