Neuroscience Courses

233.        Neuroscience of Fear.

Brain structures that control the fear response are shared across humans, mammals, birds, and reptiles.  These structures have been evolutionally preserved because fear helps to protect us from danger, injury, and death.  Though the dangers of modern society differ substantially from those of our ancient past, aspects of our primal fear instincts remain.  Are such emotions merely intrusions from another time or do they still have a function in our consciousness today?  With a focus on the fear response, we will examine the evolutionary foundations of emotions, how they are displayed, develop over time, and tie into decision-making in our everyday lives.  We will examine this issue from a multidisciplinary perspective, synthesizing recent work from the fields of biology, psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. Counts as an ancillary course for the neuroscience major.  Offered abroad in the summer term. Prerequisites: BIOL 102 or PSYC 101. Also offered as BIOL 233, PSYCH 233.

288.        Introduction to Neuroscience. (with lab)

This course provides basic understanding of the architecture and processing of information in the brain. Particular emphasis is placed on the cellular properties of cells in the nervous system and how these biophysical properties affect information processing. To this end, students learn neuroanatomy and use computer models to gain insight into the computational power of the brain. Other topics include development of the nervous system, neurophysiology of sensation and homeostatic control mechanisms. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. Offered every fall semester. Prerequisites: BIOL 101,102. Recommended: BIOL 245, 246 or 250. Also offered as BIOL 288.

387.        Cellular Mechanisms of Memory.

This course examines the molecular mechanisms of neuronal plasticity. Topics include an analysis of the cellular processes that have been proposed to be at the core of memory formation, with discussion of the electrophysiological methods that have been used to analyze these processes; the biochemical mechanisms for short-term and long-term information storage at the cellular level and the vertebrate and invertebrate experimental models used for studying the molecules involved in memory formation. Prerequisites BIOL/NRSCI 288. Counts toward the neuroscience major (cellular track). Offered in alternate fall semesters. Also offered as BIOL 387.

388.        Drugs and the Brain. (with lab)

This course will focus on how psychoactive drugs modify nervous system function and human behavior. The neurochemical and behavioral techniques used to study drug action will be addressed. Students will learn how drugs are metabolized by the body (pharmacokinetics), act (pharmacodynamics) and affect behavior (psychopharmacology), gaining comprehensive understanding of the neurotransmitter systems of the brain and how different drugs affect these systems. The laboratory component will utilize the nematode C. elegans as a model system to explore drug action; students will learn research techniques and carry out independent research. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. Prerequisites: BIOL/NRSCI 288. Counts toward the neuroscience major (both tracks). Offered every spring semester. Also offered as BIOL 388.

389.        Advanced Neuroscience.

Builds on the fundamental concepts presented in BIOL 288 (Introduction to Neuroscience) and begins to examine neurobiology from a systems perspective. Topics include the biological basis of sexual orientation, sleep and dreaming, sleep disorders, epilepsy and seizures, motivation and addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, disorders of thought and volition, and mood disorders. Prerequisite: BIOL/NRSCI 288. Required for the neuroscience major. Offered every spring semester. Also offered as BIOL 389.

399.        Current Topics in Neuroscience.

This seminar course will cover a wide variety of topics related to current neuroscience research. Our main source of information will be neuroscience primary literature articles available in the public domain. Students enrolled in the course will decide on the topics that will be addressed throughout the semester, will read the primary literature and will lead critical and comprehensive discussions on each research topic. Examples of topics that can be covered in this course include: epigenetics; mirror neurons; autism spectrum disorders; neurobiology of mental disorders; learning and memory; drug abuse and addiction; and the aging brain. Prerequisites: BIOL/NRSCI 288. Counts toward the Neuroscience Major (both tracks). Offered in alternate fall semesters. Also offered as BIOL 399.

438.        Human Neuropsychology.

This seminar course will examine the function of the human nervous system as it relates to cognition and behavior. Topics covered will include: language, attention, memory, motor skills, visual-spatial processing, problem solving, emotion, and consciousness. Special attention will be paid to the modern methodologies used to study brain-behavior interactions in normal and neuropsychological populations. Lectures, discussions and projects will make use of both empirical and clinical case materials. Prerequisites: BIOL/NRSCI 288. Counts toward the Neuroscience major (behavioral track). Offered in alternate fall semesters. Also offered as PSYC 438.

489,490. SYE: Senior Project.

Senior research may be conducted with a willing faculty mentor and may be of one semester duration (NRSCI 489, SYE research for 1 unit) or for the entire senior year (NRSCI 489, 490, SYE research for 1, 1.5, or 2 units). Expectations vary, contingent upon the units desired. The project should integrate acquired research skills and/or subject knowledge gained through the major and culminate in an appropriate written format and an oral presentation. Presentation at the St. Lawrence Festival of Science is encouraged.

499.        SYE: Honors Research.

Students integrate acquired research skills and subject knowledge gained through the major to collect original experimental data and analyze the results in reference to the existing scientific primary literature. Results will be presented orally to the neuroscience faculty and/or at the annual Festival of Science and be written as an honors thesis, to be bound and archived in both departments and in the science library. Graduation in neuroscience with the designation of honors requires exceptional academic accomplishment as demonstrated by a major GPA equal to or above a 3.5, and completion of a second semester of SYE honors research according to established guidelines. To graduate with honors in neuroscience, students normally take NRSCI 489 in the fall semester and then enroll in NRSCI 499 for the spring semester. In addition, students must: 1) have a neuroscience GPA of 3.5, 2) form a mentoring committee, 3) complete an honors nomination form by the end of the fall semester, 4) submit a written thesis to the committee by the last day of spring classes, 5) present the work at the St.Lawrence Festival of Science.