The Neurosciences

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The neurosciences investigate the molecular, cellular, and genetic aspects of nervous system functioning as well as their influences on behavior. The minor in the neurosciences will allow the exploration of the brain from a biological, chemical, and psychological perspective. The understanding of the neurosciences requires knowledge about the function of neurons, the function of various brain regions and their relation to behavior, as well as a grasp of the methodology behind neuroscientific research, including development, analysis, and interpretation of experimental studies.

The goal of the neuroscience minor is to create a cross-disciplinary approach to the neurosciences with each student gaining experience and perspectives from the disciplines of biology, chemistry, and psychology. The minor places a strong emphasis on direct research experience within the neurosciences. In addition, the neuroscience minor creates an environment where faculty and students work collaboratively and discuss issues of neuroscience.

Any student with an interest in pursuing the cross-disciplinary minor in the neurosciences should consult with the coordinator of the minor. Students are encouraged to declare their participation in their sophomore year but no later than the end of the junior year. Students also should seek an adviser, whether formal or informal, from participating faculty.


To successfully complete the cross-disciplinary minor in the neurosciences, a student must satisfy the following requirements designed to establish breadth and depth of knowledge consistent with the goals of the neuroscience minor.

  1. General College requirements (see “Curriculum” section).
    1. Must include CHEM 101 or CHEM 106. CHEM 106 is strongly recommended. (Meets Core Curriculum requirement Natural Sciences with Laboratory.)
    2. Must take PSYC 101 (Meets Core Curriculum requirement in Social Sciences.)
  2. All requirements in a major discipline of study.
  3. At least 18 credit hours in courses approved for the neurosciences, with a grade of C or above, including:
    1. Required courses: six credit hours:
      • NEUR 201: Introduction to the Neurosciences (4S)
      • NEUR 301: Seminar in the Neurosciences (1E)
      • NEUR 303: Advanced Seminar in the Neurosciences(1E)
    2. Elective courses: 12 credit hours of upper-division elective credits selected from the following list. Electives must originate from at least two disciplines (BIOL, CHEM, NEUR, PSYC).
      • BIOL 305: Animal Behavior
      • BIOL 384: Sensory Biology
      • BIOL 419: Neurobiology
      • BIOL 436: Comparative Animal Physiology
      • BIOL 438: Cancer Cell Biology
      • CHEM 420: Biochemistry I
      • CHEM 422/BIOL 424: Biochemistry II
      • NEUR 302: Directed Research in the Neurosciences
      • PSYC 312: Sensation and Perception
      • PSYC 314: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior
      • PSYC 422: Biological Psychology
      • Upper-level Special Topics Courses in Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology specifically approved for the Neurosciences

A completed neuroscience St. Mary's Project or neuroscience internship may be substituted for NEUR 302 withapproval of the Coordinator.


NEUR 201. Introduction to the Neurosciences (4S)

This team-taught interdisciplinary course will introduce students to the study of neuroscience. Students will learn how the anatomy and function of the brain and nervous system underlie thought and behavior. Students will also be exposed to the methods used to study the brain and will gain proficiency in analyzing the scientific literature and communicating scientific ideas. Prerequisite or co-requisite(s): CHEM 101 or CHEM 105 or CHEM 106 and PSYC 101 or permission of instructor.

NEUR 301/303. Seminar in the Neurosciences/Advanced Seminar in the Neurosciences (1E)

This seminar, for participants in the neurosciences minor, examines current topics in the neurosciences. Seminars include paper critiques, research proposals, outside speakers, and visits to neuroscience laboratories. Some out-of-class activities required. NEUR 303 is for participants in the neurosciences minor who have already earned credit for NEUR 301. NEUR 303 may be repeated for credit. Credit/no credit grading. Prerequisite or co-requisite: NEUR 201.

NEUR 302. Directed Research in the Neurosciences (4E).

The design, execution, and presentation of the results from an original laboratory research project in the neurosciences. Small group projects encouraged. Participation in the neurosciences seminar required. This course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite(s): NEUR 201 and NEUR 301 or permission of instructor.