Neural Science

Neural science (NS) is a collection of disciplines unified by a concern for the function of the brain. Experimental approaches in neural science vary from analyses of molecular and cellular mechanisms in nerve cells and groups of nerve cells to behavioral and psychological studies of whole organisms. We attract students who are interested in understanding the brain’s command of all its diverse functions including but not limited to the following questions: How do cell circuits enable us to read and speak? How and why do we form relationships? How do we think, remember, despair, or motivate? What are possible causes of devastating disorders of the brain and body, as well as ways to prevent or cure them?

The NS major studies the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions, the understanding of which is regarded as the Holy Grail of the current century. Increasing understanding of the brain will enable scientists to develop treatments for neurodegenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease & Alzheimer’s disease) and mental illnesses. NS research will also help us find out more about normal human behavior and mental wellbeing, and can thus help develop artificial intelligence as well as treating illnesses. NS research could also lead to better understanding of how we learn, allowing us to optimize our intelligence. These developments are likely to provide significant benefits for society and have implications for a diverse range of public policy areas such as health, education, law, and security.

The undergraduate Neural Science curriculum blends courses from many of the basic sciences (such as mathematics, biology, physics, & chemistry) as a foundation for higher level work in Neural Science. NS major requirement contains 5 required courses and 3 elective courses. Students who want to have hands-on experience in doing research can take Independent study in Neural Science with a faculty member as the research supervisor. In addition, students who demonstrate a genuine interest in research and achieve a grade point average can apply to be on Honors Track.

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