FYS 455. The Brain’s Body.
What possibilities come with 100 billion interconnected neurons? What happens if we extend, hybridize, or even discard the wet and messy reality of our brains for synthetic alternatives? In this course, students use science fiction to probe the links between brain and behavior, ponder new psychosocial potentials, and challenge current notions of subjectivity and representation. Students explore concepts such as linguistic relativity, collective consciousness, noogenesis, cybernetic threat, the exocortex, psi powers, and digital immortality through literature and media. They are introduced to discourses of transhumanism, Afrofuturism, feminist utopia, and cyberpunk and its derivatives, and engage in their own speculative writing, design, and construction. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] N. Koven.
FYS 478. The Story of the Brain: Ideas and Controversies about Brain Function from Antiquity to the Digital Age.
What sort of device is the brain? What principles does it follow, and what do these imply about our ultimate freedom, responsibility, limitations, and place in the natural order? In this course, students explore how we have grappled with these questions over history, and how these questions continue to animate modern art and culture. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] J. Castro.
FYS 497. Community Science of Brain Injury in Sports.
The risk of concussion-causing head injuries in professional, collegiate, and high school sports competitions are a topic of intense debate in society. In this course, students analyze the complex of sports-related concussions and the risks for human health from different perspectives, including an exploration of the neurobiological foundations of concussion-induced changes in brain functionality, and an analysis of the occurrence and handling of concussions in athletes from local sport teams. For this purpose, students work with local schools to gather information about the risk of concussions in school sports and changes in training practices aiming at circumvention of concussions. [W1] M. Kruse.
FYS 512. The Molecular Brain.
We are beings that can live, think, feel, and remember without knowing how we do it. We consider our thoughts, emotions, and memories as ethereal, justified, and categorical. They are none of these, but they are chemical. This seminar examines the new ways in which the fields of neuroscience and chemistry are elucidating the brain, manipulating behavior, and treating disease. For example, students discuss how our changing understanding of the mind affects a criminal justice system predicated on culpability. In the laboratory portion of the seminar, they look at mammalian memories under microscopes. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] A. Kennedy.
NS/PH 117. Brain Imaging: How Imaging Reveals the Brain and How the Brain Creates Behavior.
This introductory course surveys how breakthroughs in microscopy and imaging have enabled key discoveries about the brain. Students begin by investigating challenges the brain poses as an imaging sample, and discuss the origins of these challenges in fundamental physical principles. After studying the structure and function of the nervous system as well as the physiology of neurons, students investigate both classical and cutting-edge imaging techniques. These techniques are introduced in the context of specific neuroscience case studies relevant to human health and behavior. Familiarity with high-school-level algebra and trigonometry is expected. Enrollment limited to 49. J. Castro, T. Gould.
NRSC 130. The Neuroscience of Morality.
This past election brought discussions of morality to the forefront. Topics ranged from political morality and the liberal/conservative divide, to group morality and intergroup relations as well as the role of emotions versus conscious reasoning in moral judgment. Indeed, how do we decide whether a statement, conviction, or action is morally wrong? Are there different kinds of moral wrongness? What role does our neurobiology play in moral decision making? This course considers the neuroscientific origins of morality by exploring how judgments about fairness, harm, justice, honesty, and responsibility are impacted by our biological foundations. Enrollment limited to 29. Staff.
NS/PY 160. 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 who are 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. Not open to students who have received credit for PSYC 215. Enrollment limited to 39. Staff.
NRSC 208. Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.
As our ability to measure, predict, and manipulate brain function progresses, so too does our need to grapple with the societal consequences of neuroscientific discovery. This course invites critical examination of the ethics surrounding real-world neuroscience applications in private and public sectors. With topics that include psychopharmacology and cognitive liberty, neuroimaging for lie detection, weaponization of neurotechnology, and neuroprivacy in an era of data mining, students engage two overarching questions: How does the practice of neuroscience simultaneously mirror and mold social attitudes and policy-making agendas? What does it mean to be a responsible consumer and/or producer of neuroscientific knowledge? Prerequisite(s): NRSC 130, NS/PH 117, NS/PY 160, or PSYC 215. Enrollment limited to 29. M. Greene.
NRSC 209. Neural Codes: The Language of Thought.
Although a central tenet of neuroscience is that information about the world in encoded in the patterns of neural firing, it is increasingly acknowledged that our assumptions about these patterns make qualitatively different predictions about neural function. This course examines major hypotheses related to information coding by individual neurons and populations of neurons. Specific themes include rate coding versus time-based codes, sparse versus dense codes, and the relationship between brain responses and the statistics of their inputs. Students examine biological data and artificial models to assess how various encoding schemes might produce skillful behavioral responses. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160. M. Greene.
DC/NS 240. Neural Networks.
Biological intelligence is characterized by selecting, processing, and storing information while flexibly adapting to changing conditions. How might biology inspire “smart” algorithms? This course explores the fundamental principles of artificial neural networks (ANNs). Students begin with modeling learning in a single computational unit (McCulloch-Pitts neuron), and then examine how many simple units can collectively give rise to complex behaviors. They examine both supervised networks that learn a predetermined input-output relationship, and unsupervised networks that learn “suspicious coincidences” from the input data. They implement neural networks with Python (previous experience is helpful but not necessary). Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 (may be taken concurrently). M. Greene.
NS/PY 250. Biological Basis of Motivation and Emotion.
The course examines the mechanisms involved in activating and directing behavior and in forming, expressing, and perceiving emotions. Analysis includes evaluation of the role of physiological, environmental, and cognitive variables in mediating the behavioral processes such as thirst, hunger, sex, arousal, reward, stress, choice, consistency, and achievement. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 or PSYC 101. G. Calhoon.
NS/PY 304. Embodied Cognition, Technoculture, and Future of Identity.
Whereas much of cognitive neuroscience positions the mind as an emergent property of disembodied neural processing, newer theories of embodied mind understand cognition as collective work shared by brain, body, and environment. Traditional constructs of cognition are further destabilized when we account for the potential of technology to reshape the distinctions among these domains. With acknowledgment of embodiment and embeddedness as fellow operators of mind, neuroscience must consider how the brain interacts with and is impacted by social inequality and body politics. Drawing upon scientific, theoretical, and literary texts, this seminar contemplates current and future possibilities for biology and culture to co-construct identity. Prerequisite(s): AA/AC 119, ENG 395I, INDS 267, NRSC 130, NS/PY 160, or PSYC 215. Not open to students who have received credit for FYS 455. Enrollment limited to 15. N. Koven.
BI/NS 305. Gene Editing in Biology and Neuroscience.
The development of genome editing techniques by molecular biologists has raised great hopes that a treatment for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease might finally be available. In this course, students analyze how genome editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 have evolved, how they can be applied to study the role of individual genes or to alter mutant genes, and what approaches exist for the delivery of DNA-modifying enzymes into an organism. In addition, students use scientific publications and popular literature to discuss ethical implications of usage of genome editing techniques for society. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202. Enrollment limited to 15. M. Kruse.
BI/NS 308. Neurobiology/Lab.
An introduction to the molecular and cellular principles of neurobiology and the organization of neurons into networks. Also investigated are developmental and synaptic plasticity, analysis of signaling pathways in cells of the nervous system, and the development of neurobiological research, from studies on invertebrate systems to usage of stem cell-derived brain organoids and gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9. Laboratories include analysis of nerve cell activity, computer simulation and modeling, and the use of molecular techniques in neurobiology. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202. Enrollment limited to 12 per laboratory section. M. Kruse.
NS/PY 319. Physiological Profiles of Mental Illness.
This course examines the physiology associated with a range of mental illnesses. Biological methods (e.g., neuroscience, autonomic psychophysiology) are used to explore the physiological underpinnings of mood, anxiety, psychotic, personality, and other psychological disorders. Clinical implications are discussed including evaluating the utility of incorporating physiological measurement into diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 or PSYC 215 or 235. Enrollment limited to 19. K. Low.
CH/NS 320. Mechanisms of Memory.
This course engages students in ideas from the fields of neuroscience, chemistry, biology, and psychology to understand on a chemical level how memory is stored and recalled in the human brain. Using seminal experiments as a foundation, students differentiate between “learning” and “memory” and connect model systems from the molecule all the way to behavior. Multimodal assignments explore the broad scope of experimental design and the cutting-edge subtleties of what it means to store and access information in the brain. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202 and CHEM 217. A. Kennedy.
NS/PY 330. Cognitive Neuroscience/Lab.
This course explores how the neurological organization of the brain influences the way people think and act. Particular emphasis is given to the brain systems that support object recognition, spatial processing, attention, language, memory, and executive functions. 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, diffusion tensor imaging, neuropsychological assessment, event-related potentials, magnetoencephalography, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 or 363 or PSYC 215, 222, or 230. Enrollment limited to 39. N. Koven.
NS/PY 357. Computational Neuroscience/Lab.
In this course, students examine formal models of brain function to determine how neurons give rise to thought. Examining real datasets, students explore how the brain encodes and represents information at cellular, network, and systems scales, and they discuss ideas about why the brain is organized as it is. Specific topics include spike statistics, reverse correlation and linear models of encoding, dimensionality reduction, cortical oscillations, neural networks, and algorithms for learning and memory. All assignments and most class work emphasizes computer programming in Matlab though no programming background is assumed or expected. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 and NRSC 205, PSYC 218, or any 200-level mathematics course. Enrollment limited to 15. M. Greene.
NRSC 360. Independent Study.
Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester. Staff.
NS/PY 361. Topics in Affective Neuroscience.
This seminar examines recent advances in the interdisciplinary field of affective neuroscience. Topics 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 as well as neuroethics and neurolaw. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 or PSYC 215. Not open to first-year students or sophomores. Enrollment limited to 15. N. Koven.
NS/PY 362. Psychopharmacology.
This course examines the effects that drugs have on human behavior, including the ability to cause addiction as well as treat a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions. By exploring how drugs alter neurotransmitters, students better understand how the brain mediates cognition, emotion, and sensorimotor functioning. Strategies, techniques, and challenges of psychopharmacological research are addressed, and new approaches to drug discovery are covered in depth. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: NS/PY 160, 319, 330, or 331; or PSYC 215, 302, or 305. G. Calhoon.
NS/PY 363. Physiological Psychology/Lab.
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 160 or BI/NS 308. J. Castro. G. Calhoon.
NS/PY 364. Psychobiology of Smell.
Smells are the most enigmatic percepts, incomparably vivid and immediate, yet seemingly impossible to describe or quantify. This course begins with a brief philosophical and historical inquiry into the nature of smell, and then critically examines the recent scientific literature in olfactory neuroscience. Topics include the molecular biology of odor detection, neural coding and representation of odors, the role of odors in social and sexual behavior, and the relationships among odor, memory, emotion, and language. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160 or PSYC 215. Enrollment limited to 15. J. Castro.
NS/PY 382. Cultural Neuroscience.
Cultural neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of research that seeks to understand the interrelation of culture, brain, and behavior. This rapidly advancing discipline investigates how environment, beliefs, and traditions shape human cognitive function and, in turn, how foundational neural mechanisms impact sociocultural processes. In this seminar, students review and discuss the theoretical and empirical literature addressing cross-cultural research on attention, autobiographical memory, emotion, intergroup dynamics, and social conflict. Students develop a nuanced understanding of neuroimaging measures applied cross-culturally and critically evaluate a body of research that attempts to address “real world” scenarios. Prerequisite(s): AS/PY 260, NRSC 130, NS/PY 160, PSYC 215, or PY/SO 210. Enrollment limited to 15. Staff.
NS/PY 399. Junior-Senior Seminar in Biopsychology.
A course designed to give junior and senior majors an opportunity to explore a significant new area in biological psychology. Topics change from year to year and with the expertise of the faculty member. Prerequisite(s): NS/PY 160. Only open to juniors and seniors. Enrollment limited to 15. J. Castro. G. Calhoon.
NRSC 457. Capstone Thesis in Neuroscience.
Open to senior majors with permission of the program faculty. A neuroscience thesis involves independent laboratory research on a topic broadly related to neuroscience. This may take the form of a one- or two-semester project conducted under the supervision of a Bates faculty member, or participation in a summer neuroscience-related research internship off-campus that culminates in data analysis and writing during the fall semester. With the latter option, students take responsibility for finding and securing a summer research position in neuroscience that involves some form of data collection, and students must also secure permission from the summer research mentor to bring data back to Bates for analysis and write-up. 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. Instructor permission is required. [W3] Staff.
NRSC 458. Capstone Thesis in Neuroscience.
Open to senior majors with permission of the program faculty. A neuroscience thesis involves independent laboratory research on a topic broadly related to neuroscience. This may take the form of a one- or two-semester project conducted under the supervision of a Bates 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. Instructor permission is required. [W3] Staff.
NRSC 459. Community-Engaged Learning Capstone.
Open to senior majors with permission of the program faculty, this capstone involves creative collaboration with a campus or community partner to produce a body of neuroscience-related work that benefits that partner. Students complete fifty to sixty hours of work in a campus/community placement and engage in structured writing exercises specific to the placement. Students may wish to consult with the Harward Center for Community Partnerships as they develop their project; the project is subject to approval by the neuroscience faculty. Instructor permission is required. [W3] Staff.
NRSC 460. Capstone Seminar on Cellular Neuroscience.
Open to seniors with departmental permission of the program faculty. Cellular neuroscience encompasses many subfields that include an analysis of the interaction of different molecules in determining neuron and glial cell behavior. Students in this course engage in research-related activities and attend seminars by experts in the fields of cellular neuroscience. Students work individually or in groups to design novel hypotheses based on a close reading of the literature and write research proposals that explain how to test those hypotheses. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202 and one of the following: BI/NS 308, BIO 328 or 337, or NS/PY 363. Not open to students who have received credit for BIO 460. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. [W3] M. Kruse.
NS/PY 461. Capstone Seminar on Psychoendocrinology.
Open to seniors with permission of the neuroscience or psychology faculty. This seminar focuses on the topic of social cognition as it applies to peptide levels in order to investigate the neurochemistry of emotional intelligence, theory of mind, and self-perception as well as probe their intermediate cognitive/affective mechanisms. Students work in groups to test novel hypotheses using human subjects and, through the research process, learn methods of experimental neuropsychological assessment and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Prerequisite(s): BIO 244, NRSC 205, or PSYC 218 and NS/PY 330. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. [W3] N. Koven.
NRSC 462. Capstone Seminar on Computational Neuroscience.
Open to seniors with permission of the program faculty. Computational neuroscience applies quantitative techniques and formalisms to investigate neural data and to model neural phenomena. This seminar focuses on the computational analysis of high-dimensional data sets charting gene expression throughout the brain, with the goal of understanding the functional and hierarchical organization of brain systems. Students first learn essential computer programming and analysis techniques, and then work in teams to propose and investigate a topic of their choosing. Specific topics include the high-throughput analysis of brain tissue using in situ hybridization, image processing, clustering, and dimensionality reduction. The course also includes professional development and discussions with practitioners. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. [W3] J. Castro.
NS/PY 463. Capstone Seminar on Human Cognitive Neuroscience.
This seminar focuses on the end-to-end process of scientific discovery using the tools of human cognitive neuroscience. Students work in groups to uncover an open empirical question in the areas of perception, attention, or memory, then design and execute an experiment aimed at answering this question using electroencephalography or eye tracking in human subjects. Students gain experience in modern data analysis techniques including multivariate pattern analysis, time-frequency analysis, image processing, and representational similarity analysis. Prerequisite(s): BIO 244, NRSC 205, or PSYC 218 and NS/PY 330. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. [W3] M. Greene.
NS/PY 464. Capstone Seminar on Systems Neuroscience.
In this seminar students investigate the mouse olfactory bulb, with the goal of testing student-designed hypotheses on this structure’s molecular and functional organization. Students use a wide interdisciplinary set of approaches to interrogate olfactory circuits at cellular scale, including electrical recordings, imaging, histology, modeling, and informatics. Additional features of the course include training in research design, data analysis using Matlab, instruction in proposal writing and science writing generally, and professional development. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. [W3] J. Castro.
NRSC s20. Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.
As our ability to measure, predict, and manipulate brain function progresses, so too does our need to grapple with the societal consequences of neuroscientific discovery. This course invites critical examination of the ethics surrounding real-world neuroscience applications in private and public sectors. With topics that include psychopharmacology and cognitive liberty, neuroimaging for lie detection, weaponization of neurotechnology, and neuroprivacy in an era of data mining, students engage two overarching questions: How does the practice of neuroscience simultaneously mirror and mold social attitudes and policy-making agendas? What does it mean to be a responsible consumer and/or producer of neuroscientific knowledge? Prerequisite(s): NRSC 130, NS/PH 117, NS/PY 160, or PSYC 215. Not open to students who have received credit for NRSC 208. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. M. Greene.
BIO s47. Experimental Cell Biology.
In this laboratory-based course, students investigate how lipids and proteins act together to regulate cellular activity. Using state of the art research facilities on campus and at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory near Bar Harbor, ME, students work with an immortalized cell line to address questions of neuronal signaling pathways by applying molecular, biochemical, and microscopy techniques. The course introduces students to the mathematical programming language R, and trains students in using R to analyze experimental data. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202. Enrollment limited to 12. M. Kruse.
NRSC s50. Independent Study.
Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair is required. Students may register for no more than one independent study during a Short Term. Staff.