Neuroscience is the scientific community's effort to understand the mechanisms that give rise to thoughts, motives, and behavior. The central mechanism of behavior is the brain, and exploring it is a fascinating odyssey in natural science. Neuroscientists investigate the connections between events that occur at the subcellular level and the behavior of the whole organism. Addressing the fundamental questions of neuroscience requires the collaboration of specialists in diverse fields. Thus, although neuroscientists specialize in one particular discipline, they need to be cognizant of many related areas. The neuroscience major is cross-disciplinary and taught primarily by professors in the biology and psychology departments; however, students desiring to do advanced work may choose to work with faculty from a wide variety of departments.
As neuroscience majors, students will engage in broadly based study of the nervous system. This study will be multidisciplinary, integrating the perspectives of biology, psychology, and related sciences. Students will develop a foundation in concepts, issues, discoveries and methodological approaches to the interdisciplinary endeavor of neuroscience. Students will discover how approaches from various neuroscience subdisciplines complement one another and how the findings can be integrated to provide a more global understanding of the functioning of the nervous system. Students will gather, analyze and interpret scientific data and summarize and communicate empirical results; this process will enhance their familiarity and facility with scientific methodology. Students will develop their verbal, quantitative and writing skills. Students may focus in a subfield of neuroscience and may conduct research with faculty members. Students will gain experience in integrating and synthesizing data, develop a broad background in the sciences and humanities, and acquire skills adaptable to a wide variety of areas and interests. The major will prepare students for career paths that include graduate school, the health professions, research and clinical work.
THE NEUROSCIENCE MAJOR: To fulfill the major, students must complete the following:
- Gateway course:
NS101 (Neuroscience: Mind and Behavior)
- Core courses:
BI105 Biological Sciences I: Unity of Life;
BI106 Biological Sciences II: Unity of Life;
CH105 Chemical Principles I;
CH106 Chemical Principles II;
PS217 Statistical Methods in Psychology I**
PS304 Physiological Psychology or
PS306 Experimental Psychology**
- Integrative course:
NS277 (Integrative Seminar in Neuroscience Research)
- Elective courses:
- Choose three courses from the following set of 200-level electives. Two of these electives must have a BI designation, and one must have a PS designation.
PS 213 Hormones and Behavior
PS 231 Neuropsychology**
BI 242 Introduction to Molecular Cell Biology
BI 244 Comparative Vertebrate Physiology
BI 245 Principles of Genetics
- Choose four courses from the following set of 300-level electives. At least two of these electives must have a PS designation, and at least one elective must have a BI designation.
BI 306 Mammalian Physiology
BI 311 Biological Electron Microscopy
BI 316 Animal Behavior
BI 342 Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
BI 344 Biological Clocks
BI 349 Neuroendocrinology
BI 352/353 Topics in Advanced Genetics
(when topic is appropriate for NS majors)
PS 304 Physiological Psychology***
PS 306 Experimental Psychology***
PS 324 Cognition
PS 325 Perception
PS 327 Computational Neuroscience
PS 341 Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience:
Left Brain/Right Brain
**The prerequisite of PS101 Introduction to General Psychology is waived for neuroscience majors taking these courses.
***Unless taken to fulfill the core requirement; see Section 2 above.
With the exception of NS277, none of the regular courses that count toward the major may be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.
HONORS: Successful completion of two tutorial projects (PS375 and 376, or two semesters of BI385) are required for consideration for Honors. Recommendations and Advice
Tutorial project: Students are strongly encouraged to undertake Introduction to Neuroscience Research (NS275) and a tutorial project (PS375, 376, BI385) prior to completion of the Neuroscience major. Those students who plan on completing a senior tutorial project should consider taking the one-credit research experience during their junior year, which allows students to explore particular areas of research introduced in NS101 or 277. This additional experience will help students to make more informed decisions about the particular area of research they are most interested in pursuing for a senior tutorial project.
Advice on Choosing Electives: Students' choices of electives (both within and beyond the requirements specified by the Neuroscience Major) may be guided by interests as well as professional goals. For example, in the Core course Chemical Principles I and II (CH105/106), students are introduced to fundamental concepts of chemistry that are necessary for understanding basic mechanisms in the neurosciences; students wishing to deepen this understanding are encouraged to take additional courses in Chemistry, including Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. Examples of Projected Paths through the Major are intended as illustrations of groupings of electives informed by different kinds of interests and goals. For each illustration, suggestions are offered for electives within and beyond the major. PATH 1: A Biobehavioral Focus
Within major: Consider electives from the biology courses (e.g., BI245 Principles of Genetics, BI306 Mammalian Physiology, BI316 Animal Behavior, or BI342 Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, BI349 Neuroendocrinology), and PS213 Hormones and Behavior, PS304 Psysiological Psychology, or PS306 Experimental Psychology.
Beyond major: Additional electives from such areas as philosophy, ethics, chemistry, and biology (BI302 Behavioral Ecology and BI370 Computer Modeling of Biological Systems). PATH 2: A Cellular/Molecular Focus
Within major: Consider electives from the biology courses (e.g., BI242 Introduction to Molecular Cell Biology, BI245 Principles of Genetics, BI349 Neuroendocrinology, and BI342 Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience.)
Beyond major: Additional electives from Biology (BI360 Chromatin Structure, Maintenance and Function, BI363 mRNA Synthesis, Processing and Turnover) and Chemistry (CH221 Organic Chemistry I, CH222 Organic Chemistry II, and CH341 Biochemistry). PATH 3: A Cognitive Neuroscience Focus
Within major: Consider electives from the cognitive neuroscience courses (PS231 Neuropsychology, PS324 Cognition, PS325 Perception, and PS341 Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience: Left Brain/Right Brain), and BI245 Principles of Genetics or BI316 Behavior.
Beyond major: Additional electives from such areas as philosophy. PATH 4: A Cognitive Science Focus
Within major: Consider electives from the cognitive neuroscience courses (PS231 Neuropsychology, PS324 Cognition, PS325 Perception, PS327 Computational Neuroscience, and PS341 Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience: Left Brain/Right Brain).
Beyond major: Consider electives from computer science (CS103 Structured Programming in Basic, CS106 Introduction to Computer Science I, CS206 Introduction to Computer Science II), mathematics (MC306 Theory of Computation), anthropology, philosophy, and psychology (PS323 Psycholinguistics, or interdisciplinary courses on cognitive processes. PATH 5: An Applied Focus
Within major: Distribute electives equally in biology and psychology.
Beyond major: Consider electives from psychology (PS315 Psychology and 326 Health Psychology), sociology or social work. Note:
Those students interested in pre-med and other health professions should consult with the Health Professions Advisory Committee for guidance in selecting options.
For course listings, please see the Skidmore College Catalog