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Interdisciplinary Courses

Required Courses

NS/PY 200. Introduction to Neuroscience. In this course, students learn how the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems support mind and behavior. Topics introduced include neuroanatomy, developmental neurobiology, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, and neuropsychiatry. The course is aimed at prospective majors and nonmajors interested in exploring a field in which biology and psychology merge, and to which many other disciplines (e.g., chemistry, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, computer science) have contributed. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 101 or any 100-level biology course. Not open to students who have received credit for PSYC 215. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 50. Normally offered every year. J. Castro.

BIO 190. Organismal Biology. An introduction to the biology of plants and animals with an emphasis on the evolution of structure, function, and diversity within these groups. The inquiry-based, collaborative laboratory studies introduce students to fundamental principles of form and function in the organismal world, the quantitative analysis of data, scientific writing, and utilizing the primary literature. This course is intended to serve as the entry point for all life science majors including biology, biological chemistry, neuroscience, and environmental studies (science concentration). Not open to students who have received credit for BIO 101. Enrollment limited to 70. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. Staff.

CHEM 107A. Atomic and Molecular Structure. Fundamental concepts underlying the structure and behavior of matter are developed. Major topics include states of matter, atomic structure, periodicity, and bonding. This course, or its equivalent, is a prerequisite for all advanced courses in chemistry. Laboratory: three hours per week. Not open to students who have received credit for CH/ES 107B, CHES 107B, or FYS 398. Enrollment limited to 60. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. J. Henry, P. Schlax, R. Austin, M. Cote. [OR TAKE CH/ES 107B]

CH/ES 107B. Chemical Structure and Its Importance in the Environment. Fundamentals of atomic and molecular structure are developed with particular attention to how they relate to substances of interest in the environment. Periodicity, bonding, states of matter, and intermolecular forces are covered. The laboratory (three hours per week) involves a semester-long group investigation of a topic of environmental significance. Not open to students who have received credit for CHEM 107A or FYS 398. Enrollment limited to 60. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. T. Wenzel. [OR TAKE CHEM 107A]

CHEM 108A. Chemical Reactivity. A continuation of CHEM 107A. Major topics include thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, acid/base behavior, and electrochemistry. Laboratory: three hours per week. Prerequisite(s): CHEM 107A, CH/ES 107B, or FYS 398. Not open to students who have received credit for CH/ES 108B or CHES 108B. Enrollment limited to 60. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. T. Lawson, P. Schlax, J. Henry. [OR TAKE CH/ES 108B]

CH/ES 108B. Chemical Reactivity in Environmental Systems. A continuation of CH/ES 107B. Major topics include thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, acid/base chemistry, and electrochemistry. Examples for course topics are drawn from aquatic chemistry and the chemistry of environmental health. The laboratory (three hours per week) analyzes the chemistry of marine environments. Prerequisite(s): CHEM 107A, CH/ES 107B, or FYS 398. Not open to students who have received credit for CHEM 108A. Enrollment limited to 60. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. R. Austin. [OR TAKE CHEM 108A]

BIO 242. Cellular and Molecular Biology. A view of life at the cellular and molecular levels. Topics include cellular energetics, membrane phenomena, genetics, and molecular biology. Laboratory studies include enzymology, bacterial transformation, the light reactions of photosynthesis, Mendelian genetics, bioinformatics and DNA analysis using gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction. Quantitative analysis of data and peer-reviewed scientific writing are emphasized. This course is required for the biology, biological chemistry, and neuroscience majors. Prerequisite(s): BIO 190 and CHEM 108A or CH/ES 108B. Not open to students who have received credit for BIO s42. Enrollment limited to 60. [S] [L] [Q] [W2] Normally offered every year. Staff.

CHEM 217. Organic Chemistry I. An introduction to organic chemistry. Topics include bonding, structure, stereochemistry, and nomenclature; reactions of alkanes, alkenes, alkylhalides, alkynes, and radicals; and spectroscopic methods. Laboratory: three hours per week. Prerequisite(s): CHEM 108A or CH/ES 108B. Enrollment limited to 72. [S] [L] Normally offered every year. J. Koviach-Cote.

CHEM 218. Organic Chemistry II.A continuation of CHEM 217. The reactions of alcohols, ethers, carbonyl compounds, and aromatics are studied from both a mechanistic and a synthetic point of view. Laboratory: three hours per week. Prerequisite(s): CHEM 217. Enrollment limited to 72. [S] [L] Normally offered every year. J. Koviach-Cote.

PSYC 218. Statistics. A course in the use of statistical methods for describing and drawing inferences from data. Experimental and correlational research designs are studied by analyzing data for numerous problems. Topics covered include sampling theory, correlation and regression, t-tests, chi-square tests, and analysis of variance. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 101 or NS/PY 200. Enrollment limited to 30. [Q] Normally offered every semester. A. Douglass, T. Kahan, S. Langdon.

BI/NS 308. Neurobiology. The course is an introduction to the molecular and cellular principles of neurobiology and the organization of neurons into networks. Also included are the topics of developmental and synaptic plasticity, and the role invertebrate systems have played in our understanding of these processes. Laboratories include electrical recordings from nerve cells, computer simulation and modeling, and the use of molecular techniques in neurobiology. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 12 per section. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. G. Ernstrom.

NS/PY 330. Cognitive Neuroscience. This course explores how the neurological organization of the brain influences the way people think, feel, and act. Particular emphasis is given to the brain systems that support motor control, object recognition, spatial processing, attention, language, memory, executive functions, and emotion. Students also investigate clinical syndromes and unusual cognitive phenomena. A wide range of research techniques is introduced, including positron emission topography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, neuropsychological assessment, startle blink response, event-related potentials, magnetoencephalography, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 200 or 363 or PSYC 215 or 230. Normally offered every year. N. Koven.

NS/PY 363. Physiological Psychology. The course is an introduction to the concepts and methods used in the study of physiological mechanisms underlying behavior. Topics include an introduction to neurophysiology and neuroanatomy; an examination of sensory and motor mechanisms; and the physiological bases of ingestion, sexual behavior, reinforcement, learning, memory, and abnormal behavior. Laboratory work includes examination of neuroanatomy, development of neurosurgical and histological skills, and behavioral testing of rodents. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 200 or BI/NS 308. [L] Normally offered every year. J. Castro.

NRSC 457, 458. Senior Thesis. Independent laboratory research in neuroscience under the supervision of a faculty member. Students register for NRSC 457 in the fall semester and/or for NRSC 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both NRSC 457 and 458. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff.


Elective Courses: List A

PSYC 305. Animal Learning. The course examines historical and recent trends in animal learning. Topics include classical and operant conditioning, biological constraints on learning, and cognitive processes. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: NS/PY 200, PSYC 230 or 250. Staff.

PSYC 361. Topics in Affective Neuroscience. A seminar that examines advances in the emerging interdisciplinary field of affective neuroscience. Topics may include methodology, cognitive components of emotion, emotion in personality and temperament, neuroscience of positive and negative affect, moral emotions, unconscious emotions, evolutionary perspectives of affect, emotion dysregulation and psychopathology, neuroethics and neurolaw, and neuroscience of fervor. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 200 or PSYC 215. Not open to first-year students or sophomores. Enrollment limited to 15. N. Koven.

PSYC 399. Junior-Senior Seminar in Biological Psychology. A course designed to give junior and senior majors an opportunity to explore a significant new area in biological psychology. The topic changes from year to year and with the expertise of the faculty member. Possible topics include neural bases of additions, memory, sexual behavior, and stress. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: BI/NS 308 or NS/PY 330 or 363. Not open to students who have received credit for PSYC 401. Enrollment limited to 15. Staff.

BIO 319. Neurogenetics. A seminar examining the genetic dissection of nervous systems. Topics include the genetic basis of neural signaling, neural circuit formation and function, and behavior. Concepts in genetic analysis are emphasized and cutting-edge electrophysiological and optical technologies (optogenetics, super-resolution microscopy) used to monitor neural structure and function are introduced. Students focus on discussions of papers from the primary literature. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Recommended background: BI/NS 308, BIO 330 and 331. Enrollment limited to 15. One-time offering. G. Ernstrom.

BIO 330. Advanced Genetics. A lecture and laboratory exploration of the principles of inheritance. Topics include viral, bacterial, and human genetics, population genetics, the genetics of model organisms, and genomics. Readings include primary literature. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 16. [L] D. Dearborn.

BIO 331. Molecular Biology. A laboratory and lecture introduction to the molecular biology of genes and chromosomes. The course emphasizes current research about gene structure and function, experimental techniques, and eukaryotic genetics. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. [S] [L] Normally offered every year. S. Richards.

BIO 337. Animal Physiology. The major physiological processes of animals, including digestion, circulation, respiration, excretion, locomotion, and both neural and hormonal regulation. Examples are drawn from several species and include a consideration of the cellular basis of organ-system function. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 12 per laboratory section. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. R. Bavis.

BIO 338. Drug Actions on the Nervous System. This course focuses on the biochemistry and physiology of neural tissues. An emphasis is placed on neurotransmitter systems, and on drugs thought to act on these systems. The relationships between the actions of drugs at molecular, cellular, and behavioral levels are also discussed. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Recommended background: NS/PY 200, 363, or BI/NS 308. [S] N. Kleckner.

BIO 351. Immunology. The immune system is studied as an example of the body’s chemical communication networks and as one mechanism for memory. Topics include production of an immune response, immune surveillance in the maintenance of health, the effects of psychological and environmental factors on the immune system and on health, and the effects of immune dysfunctions (autoimmune diseases and immune deficiencies including AIDS). The course emphasizes the human immune system but briefly covers comparative immunology. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 30. [S] [L] Staff.

BIO 476. Seminar and Research in Neurobiology. Laboratory or library study of a current research topic in molecular or cellular neurobiology. A topic is selected in reference to the research interests of the instructor. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 6. Instructor permission is required. [S] [L] [W3] N. Kleckner.


Elective Courses: List B

BIO 320. Pharmacology. Pharmacology is the study of the actions and effects of drugs within a living organism. It studies all drugs, whether they are illegal, legal, prescription, or over-the-counter. This course places an emphasis on treatment of illness and disease in mammals and presents mechanisms of action, and therapeutic uses and toxicities of important drugs, including medications that affect the peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system, reproductive system, and agents used to treat cancer. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Recommended background: BIO 337 and CHEM 218. [S] R. Sommer.

AN/BI 348. Primate Behavior. Monkeys and apes are regularly featured in nature documentaries and their behavioral antics inspire awe and amusement in zoo visitors around the globe. This course focuses on wild primates and uses an evolutionary approach to understand why these animals behave as they do. Because primates are among the most social of animals, understanding social behavior is emphasized. Some topics include social organization and mating systems, foraging behavior, reproductive strategies, competition and cooperation, behavioral development, parenting, communication, and cognition. Laboratories emphasize field and analytical methods for conducting observational research. The course includes at least one Saturday field trip. Prerequisite(s): BIO 270. Not open to students who have received credit for BIO 348. Enrollment limited to 24. [S] [L] S. Kahlenberg.

BIO 355. Advanced Topics in Evolution. This course offers an advanced exploration of how evolution works. The first portion of the course is devoted to an overview of the major topics in evolution, ranging from micro-scale processes, such as mutation, to macro-scale processes, such as mass extinction events. The second portion of the course delves deeply into a small number of topics which vary from year to year but may include, for example, host-parasite arms races, sexual selection, and the evolution of ageing. Prerequisite(s): BIO 270. Enrollment limited to 15. D. Dearborn.

BIO s44. Experimental Neuro/Physiology. A study of contemporary research techniques in the fields of neurobiology, physiology, and pharmacology. Topics may include the pharmacology of recombinant neurotransmitter receptors or the physiology and pharmacology of invertebrate neurons. This course requires extensive laboratory work in independent projects. Prerequisite(s): BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. [S] [L] N. Kleckner.

CHEM 321. Biological Chemistry I. An introduction to biologically important molecules and macromolecular assemblies. Topics discussed include the structure and chemistry of proteins; the mechanisms and kinetics of enzyme-catalyzed reactions; and the structure, chemistry, and functions of carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and biological membranes. Laboratory: three hours per week. Prerequisite(s): CHEM 218. Recommended background: BIO 242. Enrollment limited to 26. [S] [L] [Q] Normally offered every year. T. Lawson, P. Schlax.

ENG 395I. Literary Imagination and Neuroscience. This course investigates two separate disciplines, inquiring how they speak and think about literary imagination, and asks students to consider what interdisciplinary overlap might exist between the two. The course frames imagination and the Lockean language about mind that accompanies it in the writings of Addison, Burke, Johnson, and Young. It then queries whether romantic writing (Schlegel, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats) advances radically different ideas than these earlier efforts. Finally it jumps to our contemporary moment and ponders how terms of explanation may once again have changed. The course asks whether or not the neurobiological picture of imagination–the cross-neural nature of cerebral processes, cognitive historicism, and imaging techniques–is at a great distance from what the eighteenth century once thought. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission is required. S. Freedman.

PHIL 211. Philosophy of Science. Science has become our model for what counts as knowledge; the course examines that model and discusses how far its claims are justified in the light of the nature and history of science. Topics for consideration are drawn from the nature of scientific explanation, scientific rationality, progress in science, the nature of scientific theories, and the relations of science to society and to other views of the world. Readings include traditional and contemporary work in the philosophy of science. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 30. M. Okrent.

PHIL 213. Biomedical Ethics. The rapid changes in the biological sciences and medical technology have thoroughly transformed the practice of medicine. The added complexity and power of medicine has in turn revolutionized the responsibilities and duties that accompany the medical professions. This course explores the values and norms governing medical practice; the rights and responsibilities of health care providers and patients; the justification for euthanasia; and the problems of access, allocation, and rationing of health care services. Not open to students who have received credit for First-Year Seminar 362 or Philosophy s26. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 30. [W1] Normally offered every year. D. Cummiskey.

PHIL 235. Philosophy of Mind. An inquiry into the nature of human mentality that pays special attention to the issues raised by experience and the relation between thought and language. Is mind distinct from body? If not, are mental states identical with brain states, or does the mind relate to the brain as programs relate to computer hardware? What is the connection between linguistic meaning and thought? Readings are drawn from historical and contemporary sources. Recommended background: one course in philosophy. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. L. Ashwell, Staff.

PHIL 236. Theory of Knowledge. Is knowledge possible, and if so, how? The course investigates how we can know the ordinary things we take ourselves to know. Students are introduced to major philosophical theories concerning when our thoughts about ourselves and the world are rationally justified. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 30. L. Ashwell.

PHIL 321F. Embodied Cognition and the Philosophy of Artificial Life. “Artificial life” refers to research in artificial intelligence (AI) that uses simulations, robotics, and genetic algorithms to model the kinds of flexible and adaptive behavior constitutive of our conception of intelligence. This course is an exploration and critical analysis of current research in embodied cognition and artificial life offered as an alternative to representational and computational theories of mind in philosophy and cognitive science. Topics include the nature of intelligence, the computational theory of mind, embodied cognition, representation, classic AI, behavior-based robotics, neural networks, genetic algorithms, dynamic systems, and the role played by computer simulations and robotics in cognitive science. Enrollment limited to 18. W. Seeley.

PHIL 321G. Philosophical Issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field in which theories and methods from psychology, computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy are used to study cognitive phenomena, e.g., thinking, rationality, perception, language learning, and language comprehension. In its broadest form cognitive science is the study of how organisms acquire, represent, manipulate, and use information. In this context the goal of the cognitive science is to provide an account of the sorts of mental computations that underlie intelligent performance. Traditionally computational theories of mind have been central to this project. In this course students evaluate the computational model of mind and discuss its application to three areas of cognitive research: vision, artificial intelligence, and language learning and comprehension. Students also discuss several challenges to traditional cognitive science and evaluate the relationship between the computational model of mind and new research in cognitive neuroscience. Recommended background: PHIL 232, 234, or 235, or PSYC 101. Enrollment limited to 18. W. Seeley.

PHIL s21. Science of the Mind. The fundamental question philosophers of psychology ask is: Can there be a science of the mind? The major obstacle to an affirmative answer is the nature of consciousness. Thus a significant part of the course focuses on the philosophical problem of consciousness. Emotions, however, also pose problems for the science of the mind, and are also implicated in the nature of consciousness. A second focus of the course is the nature of emotion and its relationship to consciousness. Prerequisite(s): one course in philosophy. Not open to students who have received credit for PHIL 232. Enrollment limited to 30. [W1] S. Stark.

PSYC 261. Research Methods. This course provides comprehensive coverage of the major methods used in psychological research, with special emphasis on experimental design. Students receive extensive practice in designing, conducting, analyzing, and interpreting the results of research studies, and writing reports in American Psychological Association style. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 218. Enrollment limited to 15. [W2] Normally offered every semester. Staff.

PSYC 302. Sensation and Perception. The course examines the field of perception: how we organize and interpret sensory information so that we can understand the external world. Topics covered include principles of psychophysics; the eye and brain; pattern perception; color vision; perception of depth, size, and motion; hearing and auditory system; touch; taste; and smell. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 101. Enrollment limited to 20. Normally offered every year. T. Kahan.

PSYC 303. Health Psychology. This course introduces health psychology from a biopsychosocial perspective. The course first describes the theoretical underpinnings of the biopsychosocial model, and the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology. The course then reviews the current research on stress, coping and illness, and stress management techniques. Research on psychosocial contributors to heart disease, cancer, chronic pain syndromes, and other illnesses is reviewed, along with implications for prevention and treatment. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: NS/PY 200, PSYC 211, 215, 235, 242, or 250. Enrollment limited to 50. K. Low, S. Langdon.

PSYC 333. Advanced Topics in Abnormal Psychology. A consideration of contemporary categories of abnormality from several points of view: psychoanalytic, biological, cognitive-behavioral, and existential. Additional topics include differential diagnosis, treatment methods, DSM-IV, and legal issues related to mental illness. Case materials and treatment strategies are also reviewed. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 218 and either 211, 235, or 242. Enrollment limited to 25. K. Low.

PSYC s19. Animal Cognition: Exploring the Minds of Birds, Bees, Chimps, and Dolphins. The goals of this course are to introduce students to the basic principles of comparative cognition by examining the mental abilities of several nonhuman species and to convey the importance of studying these animals for their survival. In order to achieve these goals, students in this course 1) are provided with a general historical and evolutionary framework in which to consider cognitive functioning, 2) discuss an extensive reading list during class sessions, and 3) visit the laboratories of distinguished researchers in the field of animal cognition. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 101. Enrollment limited to 16. Instructor permission is required. T. Kahan.


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