Amherst College 2017-18 Catalog

  • Introduction
  • About Amherst College
  • Admission & Financial Aid
  • Regulations & Requirements
  • Amherst College Courses
  • Five College Programs & Certificates
  • Honors & Fellowships

Introduction

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

About Amherst College

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

Admission & Financial Aid

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

Regulations & Requirements

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

Amherst College Courses

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

Five College Programs & Certificates

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

Honors & Fellowships

View Index

Neuroscience

Advisory Committee: Professors Baird (Chair), Raskin†, and Turgeon†; Assistant Professors Graf* and Trapani.

Affiliated Faculty:  Professors Clotfelter, Goutte, Poccia†, and Williamson.

*On leave, 2017-18.

†On leave fall semester 2017-18.

‡On leave spring semester 2017-18.

Neuroscience seeks to understand behavior and mental events by studying the brain. The interdisciplinary Neuroscience major at Amherst is designed for those students who wish to have the breadth of experience this program provides and/or to prepare for graduate study in a neuroscience-related field.

Major Program.

(1) General science requirements:  Chemistry: All of the following:  CHEM 151 (or 155), CHEM 161, and CHEM 221. (Most majors also take CHEM 231).  Biology: BIOL 191.  (BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in the second semester of the first year who are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience and are undecided.)   Biochemistry: one of the following: BIOL 331 or BIOL 251 or BIOL 330.  Students electing BIOL 330 must also take one additional Biology laboratory course numbered 200 or above. Statistics: one of the following: STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130), or STAT 135 (formerly MATH 135), or STAT 230 (formerly MATH 230), or BIOL 210, or PSYC 122. Physics/Mathematics:  At least two of the following courses:  PHYS 116, PHYS 117, PHYS 123, PHYS 124,  MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211.  (Note: This requirement applies to the classes of 2016 and subsequently.)  If you have advanced placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses. 

MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM-161 and PHYS 117.  The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and those courses do not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.  For more information about advanced placement see the Neuroscience Program website.

(2) The Introduction to Neuroscience course:  NEUR 226, must be taken in spring semester of sophomore year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the following:  PSYC 325, or PSYC 356, or PSYC 359.

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:  Either BIOL 301 or BIOL 351.

(5) Electives: Two additional upper-level science courses, chosen as follows:

GROUP A:  At least one elective must be chosen from any of the following courses:  An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) above, an additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) above;  NEUR 245: System Neuroscience, NEUR 450, BIOL 450: Seminar in Physiology,  or a  Five College neuroscience course approved by the Neuroscience faculty.

GROUP B: The second elective may also be from the above list, or it may be chosen from the following courses:

BIOL 251 (if BIOL 331 was taken as the biochemistry requirement), BIOL 331 (if BIOL 251 was taken for the General science requirement above),  BIOL 220,  BIOL 241, BIOL 260, BIOL 271, BIOL, 281, BIOL 291, BIOL 310, BIOL 370 BIOL 380, BIOL 381; CHEM 351, CHEM 361; PHYS 225, PHYS 400 (Also called BIOL 400 and CHEM 400); PSYC 233, PSYC 234, PSYC 236, PSYC 357 or a Five College neuroscience course or neuroscience course taken abroad that is approved (prior to enrollment) by the Neuroscience faculty.

The large number of courses required for the major makes it important for a prospective Neuroscience major to begin the program early, usually with CHEM 151 and MATH 111 in the first semester of the first year. A student considering a Neuroscience major should also consult with a member of the Advisory Committee early in his or her academic career. All senior majors must participate in the Neuroscience Seminar, which includes guest speakers and student presentations; attendance and participation constitute the senior comprehensive exercise in Neuroscience.

Departmental Honors Program. Subject to availability, an Honors candidate may conduct Senior Departmental Honors work with any faculty member from the various science departments who is willing to direct thesis work relevant to neuroscience. Candidates for the degree with Honors should elect NEUR 498 and 499D in addition to the above program (“E” students completing studies in December should choose NEUR 499 and NEUR 498D). 

 

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours plus a Discussion hour and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Baird.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2017-18. Professor Graf.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Spring semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351)  This laboratory course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Trapani.   

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2017-18.  Professor Trapani.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016