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Courses

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

NSCI 0200 - Pioneers of the Brain      

Pioneers of the Brain
The field of neuroscience emerged from the collective efforts of anatomists, physiologists, chemists, and psychologists all striving to understand the immense complexity of the nervous system. In this course we will investigate a selection of pioneering researchers in the history of neuroscience, focusing especially from the mid-19th century to the present day. Utilizing a historical framework, we will examine their hypotheses, methodologies, conclusions, and how their work was received (or derided) by contemporaries. Topics will range from molecular mechanisms of neuronal function to animal behavior. (BIOL 0145 or PSYC 0105 or CHEM 0103, or equivalent; open to non-seniors only, others by approval) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

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NSCI 0206 - Brain Plasticity      

Brain Plasticity
Starting in early development and continuing throughout your lifespan, your experiences will restructure your brain and thereby change who you are! We will explore the foundations of brain plasticity through the investigation of brain development, memory and memory systems, and the neurobiology of memory. Our understanding of brain plasticity will be applied to better understand how plasticity can be harnessed to improve cognition and alleviate a variety of brain disorders. Our exploration will be informed by authors, and artists portrayals of memory, scientific literature, and clinical case studies. (PSYC 0105 or any BIOL course; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Spring 2020, Fall 2021

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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, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

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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 (Note: AP credit in biology cannot be used to satisfy this requirement) Open to neuroscience majors, nonmajors by waiver; Not open to seniors). 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. SCI

Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

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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. (PSYC 0105 and NSCI 0251; open to NSCI majors only, others by approval) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. SCI

Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

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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 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

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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

Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

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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; not open to first year students; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

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NSCI 0320 - Clinical Neuroscience      

Clinical Neuroscience
In this course we will examine human and animal models of clinical problems of the nervous system to understand their underlying causes and emerging treatments. Readings and discussions will include foundational writings and primary literature on cutting-edge medical research in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsonism, dementias, mood disorders, and epilepsy, as well as regenerative medicine and deep brain stimulation. Students will lead in-depth class discussions, design their own research synthesis projects, and present on their conclusions on recent ground-breaking findings in the field. (NSCI 0251; open to neuroscience majors; others by waiver). SCI

Fall 2021

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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

Spring 2018

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NSCI 0343 - Behavioral Genetics      

Behavioral Genetics
Why are some people shy while other people are very outgoing? Why do some people do well at school while others struggle just to pass? This course examines the roles that genes and the environment play in creating individual differences among us humans. In order to answer these questions, this course will cover topics including molecular genetics, Mendelian genetics, metabolic disorders, chromosomal disorders, linkage and association designs, and the genetics of complex disorders. (PSYC 0226 or BIOL 0145 or NSCI 0251; Open to psychology or neuroscience majors only, others by approval) 3 hrs lect. SCI

Spring 2021

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NSCI 0345 - Neurodevelopment      

Neurodevelopment
The generation of the nervous system is an intricate, stepwise process involving the coordinated action of progenitor cells, organizing centers, and signaling pathways. Drawing examples from vertebrate and invertebrate neurodevelopment, we will examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in generating a healthy, functioning nervous system. Topics will range from early embryonic events (neural induction, patterning) through mid-gestation (neurogenesis, gliogenesis) and later stage processes (axon guidance, synaptogenesis). Students will also gain an appreciation for the emerging role of activity-dependent plasticity in neurodevelopment and how developmental processes become compromised in disease. (NSCI 251; open to NSCI majors only, others by approval) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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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. (NSCI 0251 and NSCI 252; Open to junior and senior neuroscience majors by instructor approval). Due to restricted capacity, neuroscience seniors needing a senior seminar in order to fulfill their senior work requirement will be given priority. SCI

Fall 2018, Spring 2021

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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 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

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NSCI 0418 - Psychobio & Sex Diff: Critique      

Psychobiology and Sex Differences: Exploration and Critique
Men and women differ reproductively, in hormonal patterns, in average height, and in muscle mass. Biology is accepted as influencing these differences. Do biological contributions stop at the neck? Or might biology also contribute to neural and behavioral development in human as well as nonhuman species? We will examine evidence both for and against relationships between psychobiological factors (such as hormones and chromosomes) and sex/gender differences in behavior and psychological states (such as play behavior, cognition, sexual orientation, stress, addiction, and psychological disorders). Further, we will consider potential perils of such investigations, and additionally, will explore relationships between social/experiential factors and sex/gender differences as these may provide alternative, sometimes stronger, explanations. (PSYC 0105 and PSYC 0201; Open to junior and senior neuroscience and psychology majors only, others by waiver) 3 hrs. sem.

Fall 2019, Spring 2022

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NSCI 0420 - Neurogenetics      

Neurogenetics
Nature versus nurture? Genes or environment? Age-old questions of those seeking to understand behavior. If genes can encode hair color, eye color, why can't genes encode aspects of behavior? This seminar will explore the evidence that genes do indeed influence animal behavior by examining three biological processes common across diverse taxa: circadian rhythms, mating behavior, and learning. We will read the primary literature, critically evaluate the data, and design new experiments to address open questions. (BIOL 145, BIOL 140 recommended; Open to Juniors and Seniors). 3 hrs. sem. SCI

Spring 2019, Spring 2020

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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 and NSCI 0252; open to junior and senior neuroscience majors; others by waiver). SCI

Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

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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. (PSCY 0105 and PSYC 0201 or ECON 0210 or MATH 0116 or BIOL 0211; open to junior and senior psychology and neuroscience majors only) 3 hrs. sem.

Fall 2018, Spring 2021

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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, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, language, intelligence, and psychopathology. (PSYC 0226 or BIOL 0145 or NSCI 0251; Open to junior and senior psychology or neuroscience majors only, others by approval) 3 hrs. sem. SCI

Fall 2019

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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 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 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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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 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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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 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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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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NSCI 1230 - DataScience Across Disciplines      

Data Science Across Disciplines
In this course, we will gain exposure to the entire data science pipeline—obtaining and cleaning large and messy data sets, exploring these data and creating engaging visualizations, and communicating insights from the data in a meaningful manner. During morning sessions, we will learn the tools and techniques required to explore new and exciting data sets. During afternoon sessions, students will work in small groups with one of several faculty members on domain-specific research projects in Sociology, Neuroscience, Animation, Art History, or Environmental Science. This course will utilize the R programming language. No prior experience with R is necessary.
ENVS: Students will engage in research within environmental health science—the study of reciprocal relationships between human health and the environment. High-quality data and the skills to make sense of these data are key to studying environmental health across diverse spatial scales, from individual cells through human populations. In this course, we will explore common types of data and analytical tools used to answer environmental health questions and inform policy.
INTD: Students will explore how to make a series of consequential decisions about how to present data and how to make it clear, impactful, emotional or compelling. In this hands-on course we will use a wide range of new and old art making materials to craft artistic visual representations of data that educate, entertain, and persuade an audience with the fundamentals of data science as our starting point.
NSCI/MATH: Students will use the tools of data science to explore quantitative approaches to understanding and visualizing neural data. The types of neural data that we will study consists of electrical activity (voltage and/or spike trains) measured from individual neurons and can be used to understand how neurons respond to and process different stimuli (e.g., visual or auditory cues). Specifically, we will use this neural data from several regions of the brain to make predictions about neuron connectivity and information flow within and across brain regions.
SOCI: Students will use the tools of data science to examine how experiences in college are associated with social and economic mobility after college. Participants will combine sources of "big data" with survey research to produce visualizations and exploratory analyses that consider the importance of higher education for shaping life chances.
HARC: Students will use the tools of data science to create interactive visualizations of the Dutch textile trade in the early eighteenth century. These visualizations will enable users to make connections between global trade patterns and representations of textiles in paintings, prints, and drawings. DED SCI WTR

Winter 2022

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Program in Neuroscience

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