Course Descriptions

Course Catalog for NEUROSCIENCE
NESC 101
The Brain
Recent developments in neuroscience have revolutionized our views of familiar human experiences such as locomotion, substance abuse, mental illness, sleep, and memorization. Through highly enjoyable and selected readings, presentations by visiting faculty, demonstrations and other activities, we will explore the foundations of this field as well as recent discoveries. The overall objective of this course is to provide students with a basic understanding of neuroscience, enabling them to make important decisions that may affect their lives.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 120
Nervous Connections
Recent scientific research indicates that a worm has 302 neurons, snails have long-term memory, and elephants can hear through their feet. This course will draw on current research in neuroscience to explain why information about other animals is relevant to our lives. Selected readings, lectures and class discussions will provide a basic understanding of the human nervous system and how research on animal systems has yielded this knowledge. Laboratory exercises will introduce the students to nervous system anatomy and function through dissection and experimental techniques. A basic understanding of biology and chemistry will be helpful, but this course has no pre-requisites. First-year students are given preference.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 201
Principles of Neuroscience Laboratory
A team-taught introductory course in neuroscience that will examine the neuron and its biological interactions in animal nervous systems. Topics will include the anatomy, development, chemistry, and physiology of nervous systems.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Biology 183L or permission of instructor.
0.25 units, Laboratory
NESC 201
Principles of Neuroscience
A team-taught introductory course in neuroscience that will examine the neuron and its biological interactions in animal nervous systems. Topics will include the anatomy, development, chemistry, and physiology of nervous systems.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Biology 182 and 183 and Psychology 261 or Permission of Instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 210
Neuroendocrinology
This course will explore how the brain interacts with neuroendocrine/endocrine glands to control aspects of our physiology and behavior. The development, organization, and function of neuroendocrine systems underlying energy use and metabolism, growth and development, biological rhythms, stress and arousal, and reproduction will be examined. In order to facilitate a broad understanding of this field from its historical origins to present day findings, course materials will draw from textbook readings, review articles, and primary research articles. The associated laboratory will utilize surgical, pharmacological, behavioral and neuroanatomical techniques to examine the neuroendocrine regulation of reproduction using a rodent model of sexual behavior.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Biology 183.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 210
Neurendocrinology Lab
Introduction to Neuroendocrinology Laboratory This is an optional laboratory that supplements the lecture component of Introduction to Neuroendocrinology. This laboratory will highlight the specific mechanisms whereby hormones regulate reproductive system function and reproductive behaviors, using a rodent model of sexual behavior. A combination of surgical, pharmacological, behavioral and neuroanatomical approaches will be utilized to address this topic. Concurrent enrollment in NESC 210 lecture is required.
Concurrent Enrollin NESC210
0.25 units, Laboratory
NESC 301
Introduction to Neuroscience Methodology
A laboratory course that will introduce the student to current methods and techniques used in neuroscience research. The course consists of three-week rotations in the laboratories of staff members. Among the topics to be covered will be radioligand binding assays, neurochemical assays, electrophysiology, psychobiological techniques, experiments in perception, and methods in cognitive science. This course is normally taken in the junior year.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 320
Developmental Neuroscience
This course will provide an overview of the developmental assembly of a complex nervous system. We will investigate the relations between developmental changes in the brain (morphology, neurochemistry, connectivity), and developmental changes in perceptual, cognitive, and social abilities (e.g., attention, executive function, empathy) throughout the lifespan. We will also address fundamental theoretical issues in the field of developmental neuroscience, such as the role of experience versus innate biological predisposition, the range of plasticity, and the functional degree of specialization in the brain. Part of this course will be devoted to gaining a better understanding of experimental methods utilized in the field of developmental neuroscience, in order to both critically analyze such studies, and, as a final paper, design your own study.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Neuroscience 201 or Psychology 261
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 325
Hormones and Social Behavior
This course will examine how hormones act within the brain to ultimately influence the expression of social behaviors. We will address how hormones drive the development and function of specific brain areas, with a particular focus on sex differences in these processes. We will consider a wide range of behaviors with implications for our social lives, including sexual attraction, bonding/affiliation, aggression, and social cognition, within the context of both normative and disease states. Although this course will be approached from the human perspective, discussions will be informed by primary research conducted in both human and non-human models. Consequently, course materials will draw upon primary research articles as well as assigned readings from the text.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Neuroscience 201 or Psychology 261
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 362
Neuroethology Lab
The field of neuroethology examines discrete behaviors of a diverse animals with the goal of an intimate understanding of the neural control of natural animal behavior. In this lab we will use a variety of laboratory techniques to explore the anatomy and physiology underlying repeatable behaviors in several model research animals. I will work with the students to design experiments based on our discussion of the scientific literature. Potential lab exercises will include experiments on the visual system including electroretinography and tract tracing, recording rhythmic activity generated during locomotion, video recording and analysis of avoidance behavior, field observation of territorial behavior, and memory assays among others. Experimental design, data analysis and scientific writing will be stressed.
0.25 units, Laboratory
NESC 362
Neuroethology
This course will explore the control of animal behavior by the nervous system from an evolutionary perspective. Topics to be covered include motor control (orientation, navigation, pursuit and escape behavior), communication systems (mate searching, territoriality, and social interactions), resource location and ingestion, circadian and other rhythmic behaviors and learning and memory. Examples will be drawn from a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate animals as appropriate to the topic. For select topics special attention will be paid to experimental design and data analysis. Text readings and selected primary research articles will guide discussion of each topic. In addition to exams and quizzes, students will write several short essays and one term paper during the course of the semester.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Neuroscience 201 or Psychology 261
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 364
Neuropsychopharmacology
This seminar will examine how drugs act upon, amplify, and modify neural functions, ultimately affecting mood and behavior. It will provide an introduction to the principles of pharmacology and neurochemistry. An in-depth study of the brain and behavioral mechanisms of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, and alcohol, and the neurobiology of addiction. Additionally, we will examine the effects of prenatal exposure to these drugs.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 365
Cognitive and Social Neuroscience
This course examines the way in which brain function influences mental processes and overt action. We will consider a range of cognitive and social functions, primarily from the perspective of neuroscience and draw on such related disciplines as cognitive psychology, social psychology, and computational analysis as needed. The functions to be reviewed include perception, attention, memory, thinking, emotional processing, group behavior, stereotyping and empathy. We will apply these to consider topics such as substance abuse, discrimination, child development, and mental illness.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 388
Current Issues in Neuroscience
This half-credit course considers current neuroscience research on topics ranging from clinical research to molecular biology. Students will attend presentations by neuroscience researchers and read and discuss pertinent research literature prior to each presentation. Some special scheduling arrangements will be necessary for activities outside of the regular class meeting time.
Prerequisite: Senior Neuroscience major, and a C- or better in Neuroscience 201, or permission of instructor.
0.50 units, Lecture
NESC 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
NESC 401
Neurochemistry
An interdisciplinary course investigating the chemical processes involved in central nervous system functioning and communication. Emphasis will be placed on the chemical aspects of synthesis, metabolism, and release of neurotransmitters. The role of neurochemistry in behavioral and neurological disease states will be evaluated. Current research topics in this area will also be presented.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Neuroscience 201, Chemistry 211, or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 402
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
An advanced study of individual cells and small networks of cells in the nervous system. Specific topics include the development of neurons and glia, the cellular physiology of communication in the nervous system, and characterization of molecules responsible for unique properties of neurons. These cellular and molecular processes will be examined through lectures, student-led presentations, and laboratory experiments.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Neuroscience 201, Biology 317L, or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 425
Research in Neuroscience (Laboratory)
Students will conduct original laboratory research projects under the direction of an individual faculty member. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
NESC 432
Nutrition and Brain Health
An exploration of the critical role of the brain in the regulation of food intake and of the effect of dietary nutrients in brain function. This seminar will highlight metabolic requirements for optimal brain health and will critique nutritional approaches to manage neurological disorders. Students will analyze, discuss and present relevant literature in physiology, cellular and molecular biology, and neuroscience. This seminar meets the Writing Emphasis 2 requirements in the biology and neuroscience major.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 466
Teaching Assistantship
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
NESC 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for each semester of this yearlong thesis. (2 course credits are considered pending in the first semester; 2 course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester). Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
2.00 units, Independent Study
NESC 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for each semester of this yearlong thesis. The research culminates in a thesis, an oral presentation, and a poster at the undergraduate Science Symposium. (2 course credits are considered pending in the first semester; 2 course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester). Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
2.00 units, Independent Study
NESC 548
Focusing the Mind: the Psychology of Attention
More than 100 years ago, William James famously declared, “Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought.” And while James’ conception of attention resonates with a colloquial understanding of the term that’s still in use today, empirical treatment of attention in the psychological and neuroscientific literature suggests that consensus on what attention is and what attention does has not yet been reached. Using primary sources, scholarly reviews, and popular science pieces, we will work toward a more nuanced understanding of what attention is and delve deeply into what it means to selectively focus the mind in a world full of distraction.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 800
Graduate Seminar in Neuroscience
This half-credit seminar will cover current topics in neuroscience, including issues in research methodology, ethics in research and public policy issues. In addition, time will be spent reviewing the literature and methodology of the theses of enrolled students. The course will be structured like a journal club with students preparing a discussion of one to two articles each week to be shared. Many of the articles may be drawn from the background literature of the thesis topic. Students will also attend presentations by neuroscience researchers and read and discuss pertinent research literature prior to each presentation.
0.50 units, Seminar
NESC 801
Neurochemistry
An interdisciplinary course investigating the chemical processes involved in central nervous system functioning and communication. Emphasis will be placed on the chemical aspects of synthesis, metabolism, and release of neurotransmitters. The role of neurochemistry in behavioral and neurological disease states will be evaluated. Current research topics in this area will also be presented.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 802
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
An advanced study of individual cells and small networks of cells in the nervous system. Specific topics include the development of neurons and glia, the cellular physiology of communication in the nervous system, and characterization of molecules responsible for unique properties of neurons. These cellular and molecular processes will be examined through lectures, student-led presentations, and laboratory experiments.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 803
Behavioral Neuroscience
A selective exploration of dynamic biological and psychological mechanisms and underlying anatomy associated with various behaviors. It will explore behavior in the framework of brain health versus brain disease and include neurological disorders and their treatments as well interactions between the environment and behavior.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 816
Neural Engineering
This introductory course uses an integrative and cross-disciplinary approach to survey basic principles and modern theories and methods in several important areas of neural engineering. Course topics include: neural prosthetics, neural stimulation, neurophysiology, neural signal detection, and analysis and computational neural networks. The practicalities of the emerging technology of brain-computer interface as well as other research topics in neural engineering will be discussed. Students will also have the opportunity to perform hands-on computer simulation and modeling of neural circuits and systems.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 834
Current Issues in Cognition
This seminar will explore current “hot topics” in cognitive research. For example, we’ll investigate how our minds interface with our bodies (How do we learn new skills like swinging a bat or doing gymnastics? How do people control the movement of artificial limbs or wheelchairs?) and how the different “pieces” of cognition interact (Can how well we hear impact memory? How does lack of sleep change the way we pay attention?). In class and in writing, we will analyze behavioral, neurological, and philosophical research in cognition and evaluate the impact of these issues for psychologists and for people’s lives in the “real world.”
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 862
Neuroethology
This course will explore the control of animal behavior by the nervous system from an evolutionary perspective. Topics to be covered include motor control (orientation, navigation, pursuit and escape behavior), communication systems (mate searching, territoriality, and social interactions), resource location and ingestion, circadian and other rhythmic behaviors and learning and memory. Examples will be drawn from a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate animals as appropriate to the topic. For select topics special attention will be paid to experimental design and data analysis. Text readings and selected primary research articles will guide discussion of each topic. In addition to exams and quizzes, students will write several short essays and one term paper during the course of the semester.
1.00 units, Lecture
NESC 864
Neuropsychopharmacology
This seminar will examine how drugs act upon, amplify, and modify neural functions, ultimately affecting mood and behavior. It will provide an introduction to the principles of pharmacology and neurochemistry. An in-depth study of the brain and behavioral mechanisms of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, and alcohol, and the neurobiology of addiction. Additionally, we will examine the effects of prenatal exposure to these drugs.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 865
Cognitive and Social Neuroscience
This course examines the way in which brain function influences mental processes and overt action. We will consider a range of cognitive and social functions, primarily from the perspective of neuroscience and draw on such related disciplines as cognitive psychology, social psychology, and computational analysis as needed. The functions to be reviewed include perception, attention, memory, thinking, emotional processing, group behavior, stereotyping and empathy. We will apply these to consider topics such as substance abuse, discrimination, child development, and mental illness.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 874
Minds and Brains
The neurosciences have made striking progress in recent years toward understanding the brains of animals and human beings. Through readings in philosophy and science we will consider what contribution this explosion of neuroscientific data can make to our understanding of the mind.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 892
Human Neuropsychology
This course will examine the effects of disorders on human cognitive and affective functioning. Using first person accounts, case studies, and primary research articles, we will explore a series of neurological disorders including agnosia, hemispatial neglect, amnesia, and aphasia, among others. We will analyze these disorders both to understand current assessment and treatment options, and to see what these disorders can teach us about the typical attention, memory, language, executive and emotional functioning of the healthy brain.
1.00 units, Seminar
NESC 940
Independent Study
No Course Description Available.
1.00 units, Independent Study
NESC 951
Independent Research
Under the guidance of a faculty member, graduate students may do an independent research project on a topic in neuroscience. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
0.50 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
NESC 951
Research
Under the guidance of a faculty member, graduate students may do an independent research project on a topic in neuroscience. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
1.00 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
NESC 953
Thesis Part 1
First credit of a two semester, two credit thesis in Neuroscience. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
1.00 units, Independent Study
NESC 954
Thesis Part II
A continuation of NESC 953. Second credit of a two semester, two credit thesis in Neuroscience. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
1.00 units, Independent Study
NESC 956
Thesis
Two credit thesis in Neuroscience. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
2.00 units, Independent Study