Neuroscience (NSCI)

NSCI 141b / PSYC 141b, The Criminal MindArielle Baskin-Sommers

Theoretical and empirical study of the development of criminal behavior, including constitutional, social, and neurobiological elements. Personality and psychopathological factors associated with criminal behavior; theoretical and psychobiological explanations of crime; the biological/environment interaction; the impact of psychobiological models for policy and intervention.  SO
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

NSCI 160a / PSYC 160a, The Human BrainGregory McCarthy

Introduction to the neural bases of human psychological function, including social, cognitive, and affective processing. Preparation for more advanced courses in cognitive and social neuroscience. Topics include memory, reward processing, neuroeconomics, individual differences, emotion, social inferences, and clinical disorders. Neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuropharmacology are also introduced.  SC
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* NSCI 240b / PSYC 230b, Research Methods in Human NeuroscienceGregory McCarthy

Primary focus on structural, functional, and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging, with a secondary emphasis upon brain stimulation, electroencephalography, and evoked potentials. Students learn the fundamentals of each method and the experimental designs for which they are most applicable.  Prerequisites: PSYC 160/NSCI 160 and a course in statistics, or permission of instructor.  SC
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* NSCI 258b / PSYC 258b, Computational Methods in Human NeuroscienceNick Turk-Browne

This course provides training on how to use computational science for the advanced analysis of brain imaging data, primarily from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Topics include scientific programming, high-performance computing, machine learning, network/graph analysis, real-time neurofeedback, nonparametric statistics, and functional alignment.  Prerequisites: CPSC 100, CPSC 112 or other course involving terminal commands and programming (Python preferred); course in statistics and/or data science; PSYC 160 or other human neuroscience course; or permission of instructor.  QR, SC
T 1pm-4pm

* NSCI 260a / PSYC 260a, Research Methods in Psychopathology: Psychotic DisordersTyrone Cannon

Methods of research in psychopathology. Focus on longitudinal designs, high-risk sampling approaches, prediction of outcomes, and modeling change over time. Students design and perform analyses of clinical, cognitive, genetic, neuroimaging and other kinds of measures as predictors of psychosis and related outcomes, using existing datasets supplied by the instructor.  SO
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* NSCI 270a / PSYC 270a, Research Methods in Cognitive NeuroscienceStephanie Lazzaro

This course introduces methods used by cognitive neuroscientists to discover the structural and functional features of the nervous system. A combination of lectures and hands-on lab activities help students understand the structure and function of the human brain.  WR, SC
F 9:25am-11:15am

NSCI 320a / MCDB 320a, NeurobiologyHaig Keshishian and Paul Forscher

The excitability of the nerve cell membrane as a starting point for the study of molecular, cellular, and systems-level mechanisms underlying the generation and control of behavior. At least 1 semester of college chemistry is strongly recommended.  SC0 Course cr
MWF 11:35am-12:25pm

NSCI 321La / MCDB 321La, Laboratory for NeurobiologyHaig Keshishian and Paul Forscher

Introduction to the neurosciences. Projects include the study of neuronal excitability, sensory transduction, CNS function, synaptic physiology, and neuroanatomy. Concurrently with or after MCDB 320.  SC½ Course cr

NSCI 324a / BENG 230a / MB&B 330a / MCDB 330a, Modeling Biological Systems IThierry Emonet and Jing Yan

Biological systems make sophisticated decisions at many levels. This course explores the molecular and computational underpinnings of how these decisions are made, with a focus on modeling static and dynamic processes in example biological systems. This course is aimed at biology students and teaches the analytic and computational methods needed to model genetic networks and protein signaling pathways. Students present and discuss original papers in class. They learn to model using MatLab in a series of in-class hackathons that illustrate the biological examples discussed in the lectures. Biological systems and processes that are modeled include: (i) gene expression, including the kinetics of RNA and protein synthesis and degradation; (ii) activators and repressors; (iii) the lysogeny/lysis switch of lambda phage; (iv) network motifs and how they shape response dynamics; (v) cell signaling, MAP kinase networks and cell fate decisions; and (vi) noise in gene expression. Prerequisites: MATH 115 or 116. BIOL 101-104,  or with permission of instructors. This course also benefits students who have taken more advanced biology courses (e.g. MCDB 200, MCDB 310, MB&B 300/301).  QR, SC0 Course cr
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

NSCI 325b / BENG 465b / MB&B 361b / MCDB 361b, Modeling Biological Systems IIJonathan Howard, Thierry Emonet, and Damon Clark

Advanced topics related to dynamical processes in biological systems. Processes by which cells compute, count, tell time, oscillate, and generate spatial patterns. Time-dependent dynamics in regulatory, signal-transduction, and neuronal networks; fluctuations, growth, and form. Comparisons between models and experimental data. Dynamical models applied to neurons, neural systems, and cellular biophysical processes. Use of MATLAB to create models. Prerequisite: MCDB 330 or equivalent, or a 200-level biology course, or with permission of instructor.  QR
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

NSCI 329a / MCDB 329a, Sensory Neuroscience Through IllusionsDamon Clark and Michael O'Donnell

Animals use sensory systems to obtain and process information about the environment around them. Sensory illusions occur when our sensory systems provide us with surprising or unexpected percepts of the world. The goal of this course is to introduce students to sensory neuroscience at the levels of sensor physiology and of the neural circuits that process information from sensors. The course is centered around sensory illusions, which are special cases of sensory processing that can be especially illustrative, as well as delightful. These special cases are used to learn about the general principles that organize sensation across modalities and species. Prerequisites: BIOL 101-104; NSCI 160 or NSCI 320 or permission of instructor.  SC
MW 1pm-2:15pm

NSCI 340b / PSYC 335b, Cognitive NeuroscienceSteve Chang

This course covers how cognition is made by the brain. Students learn brain mechanisms underlying human cognition, including making decisions, paying attention, regulating emotion, remembering events, as well as understanding others. The course discusses both established and newly emerging findings based on several landmark experiments in both humans and animals. During this process, students are also introduced to cutting-edge techniques in cognitive neuroscience for studying human cognition. Prerequisite: PSYC 160 or specific chapter readings from the instructor.  SC

* NSCI 440a or b / CGSC 420a or b / PSYC 420a or b, Topics in Clinical NeuroscienceAvram Holmes

An overview and examination of the neuroscience of psychiatric illness. We focus on cutting-edge research in humans and animals aimed at understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie psychiatric illness. Although these questions date back to early philosophical texts, only recently have experimental psychologists and neuroscientists begun to explore this vast and exciting domain of study. We discuss the evolutionary and developmental origins of individual differences in human personality, measurement issues, fundamental dimensions of psychopathology, stability/plasticity, heritability, and implications therapeutic interventions as well as the associated broader implications for public policy. A major focus is on the neurobiology of fear and anxiety, including brain circuits, molecular genetic pathways, and epigenetics. A secondary focus is on differences in behavior and biology that confer risk for the development of depression and addiction, including the biological systems involved in hedonic pleasure, motivated goal pursuit, and the regulation of impulses in the face of everyday temptation. Students should have some background in psychology; PSYC 110 and PSYC 160 preferred.   SO

* NSCI 441a / PSYC 438a, Computational Models of Human BehaviorRobb Rutledge

Why do we do the things we do? How do we adapt to changes in the environment? And how does our happiness depend on our choices and what happens to us? How can computational models help us to gain new insights into psychological processes? The goal of this course is to use computational models to understand human behavior and its relationship to our emotions. Data is collected in a variety of tasks including new experiments designed by students, and is analyzed using computational models. CPSC 112 or other course involving programming (e.g., C++, Java, Python, Matlab), or permission of instructor.  SC
W 9:25am-11:15am

* NSCI 449a / PSYC 449a, Neuroscience of Social InteractionSteve Chang

This seminar covers influential studies that inform how the brain enables complex social interactions from the perspectives of neural mechanisms. Students thoroughly read selected original research papers in the field of social neuroscience across several animal species and multiple modern neuroscience methodologies. In class, the instructor and students work together to discuss these studies in depth. Focused topics include neural mechanisms behind brain-to-brain coupling, empathy, prosocial decision-making, oxytocin effects, and social dysfunction.  Prerequisite: PSYC 160 or permission from the instructor.  SC
TTh 9am-10:15am

* NSCI 470a, Independent ResearchDamon Clark and Steve Chang

Research project under faculty supervision taken Pass/Fail; does not count toward the major, but does count toward graduation requirements. Students are expected to spend approximately ten hours per week in the laboratory. A final research report and/or presentation is required by end of term. Students who take this course more than once must reapply each term. To register, students must submit a form and written plan of study with bibliography, approved by the faculty research adviser and DUS, by the end of the first week of class. More detailed guidelines and forms can be obtained from

* NSCI 480a, Senior Non-empirical ResearchDamon Clark and Steve Chang

Research survey under faculty supervision fulfills the senior requirement for the B.A. degree and awards a letter grade. For NSCI seniors only (and second term juniors with DUS permission). Students are expected to conduct a literature review, to complete written assignments, and to present their research once in either the fall or spring term. Students are encouraged to pursue the same research project for two terms. The final research paper is due in the hands of the sponsoring faculty member, with a copy submitted to the department, by the stated deadline near the end of the term. To register, students submit a form and written plan of study with bibliography, approved by the faculty research adviser and DUS, by the end of the first week of classes. More detailed guidelines and forms can be obtained from 

* NSCI 490a, Senior Empirical ResearchDamon Clark and Steve Chang

Laboratory or independent empirical research project under faculty supervision to fulfill the senior requirement for the B.S. degree. For NSCI seniors only (and second term juniors with DUS permission); this course awards a letter grade. Students are expected to spend at least ten hours per week in the laboratory, to complete written assignments, and to present their research once in either the fall or the spring term. Written assignments include a short research proposal summary due at the beginning of the term and a full research report due at the end of the term. Students are encouraged to pursue the same research project for two terms, in which case, the first term research report and the second term proposal summary may be combined into a full research proposal due at the end of the first term. Final papers are due by the stated deadline. Students should reserve a research laboratory during the term preceding the research. To register, students must submit a form and written plan of study with bibliography, approved by the faculty research adviser and DUS, by the end of the first week of classes. More detailed guidelines and forms can be obtained from