Neuroscience and Behavior Program: Goals and Objectives
Through a combination of specific laboratory and lecture courses, the program trains students to investigate scientific questions from multiple levels of analysis, from the cellular to organismal. The major is designed to give the student rigorous training and exposure to the discipline's breadth of approaches. Students also receive extensive laboratory experience designing and conducting experiments, analyzing data, interpreting the findings, and presenting those in oral and written form. Neuroscientists ask the following kinds of questions: What are the contributions of evolution, learning, and neurochemistry in mediating important behaviors (e.g. reproduction, feeding, problem solving)? How do physiology and brain mechanisms control song production? How do active, behaving animals learn and what brain changes reflect that learning? How do environmental and social events influence both brain function and behavior? How do animals communicate?The program consists of the introductory courses within the Biology and Psychology parent programs, a focus course within the major (N&B 201), a number of core courses from the parent departments, and a capstone senior seminar (N&B 301). The program encourages students to explore the field of Neurosciences and to think across scientific disciplines. In addition, the program is an integrated attempt to train students to read and understand current primary literature, to understand and articulate the reasoning behind proper techniques of data collection and analysis, and to present their own and others' findings through successful written and oral communication. The courses for our major are carefully selected to help students acquire the skills necessary to become informed consumers of scientific information. Within the courses for the major, emphasis is placed on training the students to read and understand current empirical work and review papers so that thy can carry out work in the laboratory.The program strives to help majors and correlate students develop several skills. These include the ability to evaluate critically the primary literature in the discipline; consider and analyze scientific questions in the discipline from the level of the cell to that of population; design and conduct laboratory experiments, analyze data with statistical tools, and interpret and present findings; understand and master key concepts in the discipline; engage in the dialog of the field through the production of scientific papers, grants, and poster and oral presentations; and move conceptually from data to inference to policy.
Program courses build upon one another as students moves through the major or correlate sequence. In this way, the general materials and abilities they acquire in the lower-level courses are added to and refined in the intermediate-level courses. These are further refined and expanded by the upper-level courses, with the senior seminar acting as the capstone experience. This training will serve them well for future careers in the field and will establish them as scientifically literate citizens.