Courses

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

NSCI 0100 - Introduction to Neuroscience      

Introduction to Neuroscience
Neuroscience is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the nervous system. In this course we will investigate basic nervous system structure and function while tracking the history and methodology of neuroscience. We will study examples of neurons, sensation, behavior, memory, thought, language, consciousness, the mind, and disorders of the nervous system. Through lectures, discussions, exercises, electronic sources, and guest lecturers we will examine the working principles of nervous systems, modern neuroscientific methods, and topical issues. We will appreciate why an interdisciplinary approach is best suited for understanding our brain and mind. (Open only to first and second year students) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. SCI

Fall 2014

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NSCI 0225 - Brain Evolution      

Evolution and Development of the Brain
Our brains are complex in both structure and function. But why? Why did we evolve to have a nervous system? What cellular and molecular events during development produce this complexity? Students will gain a deep understanding of the structures of the brain, selection factors during evolution, and how the nervous system develops. Through introductory lectures, readings, and discussions, students will discover the fascinating evolutionary history of the human brain. (PSYC 0105 and BIOL 0145 or BIOL 0140) (not open to students who have taken NSCI 0325) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Fall 2018

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NSCI 0227 - Cognitive Psychology      

Cognitive Psychology
Questions about the nature of the mind, thinking, and knowledge have a long and rich history in the field of psychology. This course will examine the theoretical perspectives and empirically documented phenomena that inform our current understanding of cognition. Lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and experiments will form the basis for our explorations of cognition in this class. Topics to be considered include attention, perception, memory, knowledge, problem solving, and decision making. (PSYC 0105; PSYC 0201 and PSYC 0202 recommended; not open to first-year students; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver. Not open to students who have taken PSYC 0305) 3 hrs. lect./1.5 hrs. lab. SCI

Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0251 - Cellular/MolecularNeuroscience      

Fundamentals of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Neurons are the building blocks of complex circuits that underlie perception and behavior. In this course we will examine the molecular and cellular basis of neuron structure and function. The topics include the molecular and cellular basis of action potential propagation, the molecular biology of synaptic transmission, the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, and the molecular mechanisms of sensory transduction. Laboratory exercises will train students in commonly used neurobiology techniques and engage students in novel investigations. (BIOL 0145 or CHEM 0103 and PSYC 0105; Open to neuroscience majors, nonmajors by waiver; Not open to juniors or seniors). 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. SCI

Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0252 - Behavioral Neuroscience      

Fundamentals of Behavioral Neuroscience
Behavioral neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that combines approaches and knowledge from psychology, biology, and chemistry to further our understanding of human and non-human animal behavior. In this course, you will study the interrelationships among elements of the nervous systems, co-functioning bodily systems, and behavioral output such as emotions, sex, memory, consciousness, sleep, and language. You will be given an opportunity to apply your knowledge from NSCI 0251 of the nervous system at the micro and macro levels and will revisit the basic concepts of behavioral genetics and psychopharmacology. This cumulative knowledge base will serve as your foundation for advanced study of neural systems and their relative roles in progressively more complex behaviors such as basic reflexes, motivation, rational thought, neural disorders, and therapeutic efficacy. (NSCI 0251; open to NSCI majors only, others by approval) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. SCI

Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0301 - Physiological Psychology      

Physiological Psychology
This course concerns the biological basis of human behavior. The course will consider the neurochemical, neuroanatomical, and neurophysiological bases of processes such as language, sensation, emotion, aggression, sleep, learning, and memory. In the laboratory the student will conduct experiments using standard (surgical, anatomical, biochemical, behavioral) techniques to investigate central nervous system function. (PSYC 0105 or any biology course; not open to first-year students; open to psychology majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. SCI

Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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NSCI 0303 - Sensation and Perception      

Sensation and Perception
Remarkably, using just five basic senses, our brains translate simple external stimuli (e.g. light and sound waves) into unique and vivid perceptual experiences enabling us to interact with our surrounding physical reality. Focusing primarily on the underlying mechanisms of vision and audition, we will explore how our brains construct detailed representations of our world. Throughout these explorations, we will identify perceptual limitations and investigate how mental processes such as attention and emotion affect our perceptions. We will review recent scientific articles and conduct experiments. (PSYC 0105 or any BIOL course; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. SCI

Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

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NSCI 0305 - Cognitive Psychology      

Cognitive Psychology
Questions about the nature of the mind, thinking, and knowledge have a long and rich history in the field of psychology. This course will examine the theoretical perspectives and empirically documented phenomena that inform our current understanding of cognition. Lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and experiments will form the basis for our explorations of cognition in this class. Topics to be considered include attention, perception, memory, knowledge, problem solving, and decision making. (PSYC 0105; PSYC 0201 and PSYC 0202 recommended; not open to first-year students; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./1.5 hrs. lab. SCI

Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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NSCI 0309 - Psychopharmacology      

Psychopharmacology
This course will examine ways in which drugs act on the brain to influence behavior. Students will learn the basics of brain function, will learn basic properties of drug action, and will learn how legal and illegal drugs, including drugs used to treat psychological disorders, alter the brain function and behavior of humans and experimental animals. (PSYC 0226 or PSYC 0301 or PSYC 0303 or BIOL 0370 or NSCI 0252; not open to first-year students; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

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NSCI 0317 - Biobehavioral Addiction      

Biobehavioral Addiction
Addiction is a pervasive disorder affecting society on a global scale. To understand this complex disorder, addictions are studied from the basic neural mechanisms, such as how neurons respond to addictive substances, to psychological factors and how they protect or increase risk. In this course we will examine the principles of substance addictions, emerging behavioral addictions (internet/gaming, problem-gambling), and underlying mechanisms that drive addiction. Topics include neural pathways of addictive substances, brain functional and structural changes, theories of motivation, neuropsychological risk factors, and modern prevention and treatment. Psychology and neuroscience students will bring their relative expertise to the class for thoughtful review of the literature.(PSYC 0105) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Fall 2018

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NSCI 0325 - Brain Evolution      

Evolution and Development of the Brain
Our brains are complex in both structure and function. But why? Why did we evolve to have a nervous system? What cellular and molecular events during development produce this complexity? Students will gain a deep understanding of the structures of the brain, selection factors during evolution, and how the nervous system develops. Through introductory lectures, readings, and discussions, students will discover the fascinating evolutionary history of the human brain.  (NSCI 0252 or PYSC 0301/0226; open to junior and senior neuroscience majors; others by waiver). SCI

Winter 2017, Spring 2018

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NSCI 0410 - Neural Coding      

Neural Coding: Visualizing How the Brain Computes
How does the brain go from an electrical signal to recognizing friends? In this course we will learn to use MATLAB to explore visually how the brain uses electrical signals to compute information. By using MATLAB as the frame for the class, students will gain skills in using a fundamental tool in neuroscience. In addition, through the use of introductory lectures, readings, in class programming activities, and discussion, students will deepen their understanding of how sensory information is encoded and then decoded. No experience using MATLAB necessary. (PSYC 0301, NSCI 0100, or NSCI 0251; open to junior and senior neuroscience majors; others by waiver). SCI

Spring 2016, Fall 2018

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NSCI 0414 - Rhythms of the Brain      

Rhythms of the Brain
How do the ~86 billion neurons of the human brain coordinate their activity to produce complex cognition and behavior? In this course we will explore how rhythmic oscillations in neuronal activity may provide a unified mechanism that contributes to diverse brain functions including attention, learning and memory, motor coordination, sleep, respiration, and perhaps even consciousness itself. Through background lectures and class discussion of primary scientific literature, students will develop their understanding of the relationships between ongoing neuronal activity, cognition, and behavior. (PSYC 0301 or PSYC 0303 or NSCI 0100 or NSCI 0252; open to junior and senior psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. sem. SCI

Spring 2016, Spring 2018

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NSCI 0420 - Neurogenetics      

Neurogenetics
In this course we will examine how genetic analysis can be used to probe the structure and function of nervous systems. Instead of focusing broadly across many fields in neuroscience, as a class we will select a few topics and delve deeply into understanding the controversies and technological advances associated with a particular topic in neurogenetics. We will examine the strengths and limitations of different types of genetic analyses as they are applied to studying neurobiology such as gene knock-outs, CRISPR genome editing, RNA interference, genetic mutant screens, and genome-wide association studies. Class time will primarily be spent discussing the primary literature. A final project will consist of research grant proposal similar to one that would be submitted to the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation by a professional scientist. (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./disc SCI WTR

Spring 2019

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NSCI 0425 - Methods in Neuroscience      

Methods in Systems Neuroscience
Our brains are series of connected neurons forming circuits. The properties of these neurons and circuits dictate their role in our behavior. This interaction is the foundation of systems neuroscience. In this course students will deepen their understanding of the fundamental properties of these neural circuits. Students will gain knowledge of the current methods of studying these circuits, including their promise for future research directions as well as their flaws. We will focus on learning the principles of neural circuitry and discussing primary literature. (NSCI 0251 or NSCI 0252; open to junior and senior neuroscience majors; others by waiver). SCI

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0430 - Memory: A User's Guide      

Memory: A User's Guide
How can I remember names better? How can I best study for an exam? How accurate are our memories? A deep understanding of how people remember will allow us to answer these and many other questions. Topics covered in this course include working memory, the nature of encoding and retrieval, applied aspects of remembering, and neuroscientific approaches to understanding memory. Readings will be a mixture of textbook and journal articles. The class will have a seminar format, with emphasis on student-led discussions and contributions. Additionally, student research groups will design and execute a research study examining human memory. Evaluations will be based on the research project, student-led discussions, and reaction papers. (PSYC 0201 or ECON 0210 or MATH 0116 or BIOL 0211; open to junior and senior psychology and neuroscience majors only) 3 hrs. sem.

Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018

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NSCI 0434 - Genes, Brain, Behavior      

Genes, Brain, and Behavior
What we experience—and how we experience it—is influenced by our unique combination of genes. For better or worse, the gene variants we inherit from our parents contribute to our predispositions to psychological disorders, our personalities, and even the way in which we perceive the world around us. To be clear, anything that you can do or think is in some way influenced by your genes. However, this statement comes with a large caveat: except in the case of (relatively) rare single gene mutations, your genes do not determine but rather contribute to who you are. Working within the field of behavior genetics, we will cover topics such as social behavior, obesity, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, language, and anxiety. (PSYC/NSCI 0301 or BIOL/NSCI 0370; Open to junior and senior neuroscience or psychology majors only, others by approval) SCI

Fall 2014

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NSCI 0437 - Social Emotional Brain      

The Social and Emotional Brain
Social relationships profoundly impact our emotional and physical well-being. For instance, healthy relationships bring joy, but difficult relationships bring pain. Social/affective (emotional) neuroscience collectively utilizes social psychology, emotions research, and neuroscience to inform our understanding of social interactions. It addresses questions like: How does the brain process social/emotional information? How do emotions help us discern other’s intentions? How are relationships shaped by emotion? Topics for discussion will include the interconnectedness of the social/emotional brain, self-concepts, theory of mind, empathy, and disorders of social/emotional function. Psychology and neuroscience students will bring their relative expertise to the class content for thoughtful discourse. (PSYC 0105; Open to junior and senior neuroscience and psychology majors only, others by waiver) 3 hrs. Sem.

Spring 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0438 - Lenses on Sex and Gender      

Lenses on Sex and Gender
Where do sex and gender come from, and what difference do they make? In this course we will address these questions using social psychological and neuroscientific/hormonal perspectives. We will investigate gender identity, stereotyping, and power, and will explore issues of sex and gender in multiple contexts, including childhood socialization and play, sexual orientation and attraction, close relationships and affiliation, cognition, the workplace, and mental health. Students will learn to think critically about these issues as portrayed in academic and popular discourse. (PSYC 0105; Open to junior and senior psychology; neuroscience; and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies majors only; not open to students who have taken PSYC/GSFS 0330) 3 hrs. sem.

Fall 2015

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NSCI 0480 - Neurobiology      

Neurobiology
Neuroscience is one of the most rapidly progressing sciences, and recent scientific and clinical studies change how we view the human brain. We will examine the nervous system from the most basic biological levels: genes, molecular signaling, cells, and neural networks. Through primary and secondary literature we will focus primarily upon simple nervous systems and simple circuits. Students will choose selected topics and give in-depth presentations and lead discussions. By this approach we will learn about the methods of the most current research, and how our brain controls our body and behavior (BIOL 0370 or NSCI 0251). 3 hrs. sem. SCI

Spring 2017

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NSCI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
Students enrolled in NSCI 0500 complete individual research projects involving laboratory or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and approved in advance by a NSCI faculty advisor. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in NSCI 0700. (Approval required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0700 - Senior Research      

Senior Research
This course is for senior NSCI majors who plan to conduct one or more semesters of independent research, or who plan to complete preparatory work toward a senior thesis, such as researching and writing a thesis proposal as well as, if appropriate, collecting data that will form the basis for a senior thesis. Senior NSCI majors who plan to complete a senior thesis should register initially for NSCI 0700. Additional requirements may include participation in weekly meetings with advisors and/or lab groups and attending neuroscience seminars. (Approval required, open to seniors only)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Senior NSCI majors who have completed one or more terms of NSCI 0700, who have a GPA of 3.3 in their major courses, and who plan to complete a senior thesis should register for NSCI 0701 for the final semester of the senior thesis process. Students enrolled in NSCI 0701 write a thesis, give a public presentation of their research, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least two Neuroscience faculty members. Faculty may recommend High honors in Neuroscience after considering the quality of these components of a student’s thesis and the student’s GPA in major courses. Additional requirements may include participation in weekly meetings with advisors and/or lab groups and attending neuroscience seminars. (NSCI 0700, Approval required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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NSCI 1045 - The Sleeping Brain      

The Sleeping Brain
The average person will sleep approximately a third of his or her lifetime. What is the brain doing during this altered state of consciousness? In this course we will broadly explore the neuroscience of sleep, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, human disease, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, sleep deprivation, and dreaming. Sleep and cognition, and particularly the effects of sleep on memory, will be emphasized. Students will become skilled at critically reading peer-reviewed journal articles, and will participate in hands-on labs and demonstrations (i.e., collecting sleep data and polysomnography training). This course counts as a Psychology elective. SCI WTR

Winter 2016

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NSCI 1046 - Movement and the Mind      

How Movement Affects the Mind: The Effects of Physical Activity on Brain Physiology and Function
The human brain evolved in an environment where movement was required for survival. Though western culture lends itself to a sedentary lifestyle, research has revealed that physical activity enhances the brain in a myriad of ways. In this course we will examine the effects of physical activity on brain structure, physiology, and function. How does exercise affect our behavior and what are the mechanisms underlying these effects? We will explore these answers from the cellular/molecular to the structural/functional level in both the healthy as well as the disordered brain. SCI WTR

Winter 2018

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Program in Neuroscience

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753