Neuroscience

Directors of undergraduate studies: Damon Clark (MCDB), YSB C148; Steve Chang (Psychology), Kirtland 310; neuroscience.yale.edu

Neuroscience aims to understand how the brain produces the mind and behavior, with the goal of advancing human understanding, improving physical and mental health, and optimizing performance. This entails a broad, interdisciplinary effort that spans from molecules to minds. At one end, biology, chemistry, and physics are improving our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neuronal signaling and development. At the other end, psychology, psychiatry, and computer science link neural processes and systems to the mind and behavior. At all levels, the rich array of methods and data analysis depends on a strong foundation in the basic sciences, mathematics, statistics, and computer science.  

Prerequisites

The foundational biology courses required of all Neuroscience majors are BIOL 101, 102103, and 104. All majors must also complete one of the following: PSYC 200S&DS 103105, 230, 238.

Placement Procedures

To join the major, students should submit a transcript and a completed Neuroscience major worksheet to the department registrar.

Requirements of the Major

A minimum of 18.5 credits is required, including the three prerequisites, 15 lecture or seminar courses (which include the senior requirement), and one laboratory, as follows:

1. Two Neuroscience foundation courses, NSCI 160 and 320

2. One Neuroscience lab chosen from NSCI 229L, 258, 260, 270, 321L.

3. Eleven electives from the following core groupings, with a minimum of: two from the Systems/Circuits/Behavior Core, two from the Molecular/Cellular/Biological Core, one from the Quantitative Core, one from the Computational Core, and one from the Basic Allied Core. No more than two credits may be taken from the Other Allied Core.  

Systems/Circuits/Behavior Core: NSCI 340341346352355360, 440, 441, 442445; PSYC 238, PSYC 449

Molecular/Cellular/Biological Core: NSCI 324, 325, 420MCDB 200202, 205, 210, 300, 310370450452MB&B 300

Quantitative Core: MATH 112, 115, 116, 120, 222, 225, 226230, 231, 244, 246, 247 MATH 255, MATH 256ENAS 151; NSCI 324, 325; CPSC 202

Computational Core: CPSC 100, 112, 201, 223323365, 470, 475, 476; ENAS 130; S&DS 123, 262, S&DS 355, 361; NSCI 453

Basic Allied Core: PHYS 170171, 180181, 200201260261CHEM 161163, 165, 167, 174175220221

Other Allied Core: NSCI 141, 161, 240, 419, 455479; BENG 485; MCDB 250CGSC 110; PSYC 110; one additional Neuroscience lab course from the list above

Credit/D/Fail No course taken Credit/D/Fail may be counted toward the major, including prerequisites.

Roadmap See visual roadmap of the requirements.

Senior Requirement

In addition to the course requirements described above, all students must satisfy a senior requirement undertaken during the senior year. All students must fill out a checklist of requirements and go over it with the undergraduate registrar by the spring term of the junior year.

B.S. degree program The B.S. degree program requires two course credits of empirical research, NSCI 490 and 491. These courses are only available to Neuroscience seniors and receive a letter grade. Students are expected to spend at least 10 hours per week in the laboratory, to complete written assignments, and to give a presentation. In addition to time in the lab, and as part of NSCI 490 and 491, students are expected to attend a semi-regular capstone seminar, to hear guest speakers and to discuss senior work progress with their peers and the directors of undergraduate studies (DUSes). Research can be conducted over original, archival, or consortium data sets. Written assignments include a short research plan due at the beginning of the fall term, a grant proposal due at the end of the fall term, and a final report due at the end of the spring term. Students should pursue the same research project for two terms, with the grant proposal guiding and serving as the background for the research and final report. Seniors are also required to present their research in the spring term at a poster session. Students should find a research laboratory during the term preceding the research. Yale College does not grant academic credit for summer research unless the student is enrolled in an independent research course in Yale Summer Session. To register for NSCI 490 and 491, students must submit a form and the research plan with bibliography, approved by the faculty research adviser and a DUS, by the end of the first week of classes.

B.A. degree program The B.A. degree program requires two course credits in nonempirical research, NSCI 480 and 481; or one credit in nonempirical research, NSCI 480 or 481, and one credit in empirical research, NSCI 490 or 491. These courses are only open to Neuroscience seniors and receive a letter grade. Under faculty supervision, for NSCI 480 or 481, students are required to conduct original research for at least 10 hours per week that does not involve direct interaction with data, such as developing a theory or conducting a meta-analysis to synthesize existing findings. A literature review without novel intellectual contribution is not adequate. Written assignments include a short research plan due at the beginning of the fall term, a literature review due at the end of the fall term, and a theoretical paper due at the end of the spring term. Seniors are also required to present their research in the spring term at a poster session. To register, students must submit a form and the research plan with bibliography, approved by the faculty adviser and a DUS, by the end of the first week of classes.

More detailed guidelines, forms, and deadline information is available on the program website. 

Advising

Program advisers Each term, students should update their Neuroscience major worksheet and then meet with their assigned faculty adviser to discuss their schedule and review their worksheet. These documents should then be submitted to the Neuroscience registrar for DUS review and approval. For questions concerning credits for courses taken at other institutions, or courses not listed in this bulletin, students should contact the Neuroscience registrar.

REQUIREMENTS OF THE MAJOR

Prerequisites BIOL 101, 102, 103, and 104; and one of PSYC 200, S&DS 103105, 230, 238

Number of courses 18.5 credits (including prereqs and senior req)

Specific courses required 2 neuroscience foundation courses, NSCI 160 and 320

Distribution of courses B.S. or B.A.—1 lab course; 11 electives including at least: 2 Systems/Circuits/Behavior Core courses, 2 Molecular/Cellular/Biological Core courses, 1 Quantitative Core course, 1 Computational Core course, 1 Basic Allied Core course, and no more than 2 Other Allied Core courses

Senior requirement B.S.—2 empirical research courses, NSCI 490 and 491B.A.—2 nonempirical research courses, NSCI 480 and 481, or 1 empirical research course (NSCI 490 or 491) and 1 nonempirical research course (NSCI 480 or 481)

Neuroscience aims to understand how the brain produces the mind and behavior, with the goal of advancing human understanding, improving physical and mental health, and optimizing performance. This entails a broad, interdisciplinary effort that spans from molecules to minds. At one end, biology, chemistry, and physics are improving our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neuronal signaling and development. At the other end, psychology, psychiatry, and computer science link neural processes and systems to the mind and behavior. At all levels, the rich array of methods and data analysis depends on a strong foundation in the basic sciences, mathematics, statistics, and computer science.  

Jointly hosted by the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology department and the Psychology department, the Neuroscience major provides excellent scientific preparation for graduate school, medical school and the health professions, and law school, as well as a wide range of professional careers in the biological sciences, technology, business, law, education, journalism, and public policy, to name a few. 

As prerequisites, prospective majors should take the foundational biology sequence BIOL 101102103, and 104 in their first year and a course in statistics from PSYC 200S&DS 103105, 230, 238 in their first or second year. Students can join the major with two of these three credits, as long as they have also completed one of the two foundational courses.

Indeed, prospective majors are encouraged to take the foundational course NSCI 160 as early as possible, as it is a requirement for the major, does not have prerequisites, and provides a general sense of the field of neuroscience. This course is also appropriate for nonmajors interested in neuroscience.

For additional information, visit the program website.

FACULTY OF THE NEUROSCIENCE MAJOR

Professors †Amy Arnsten (School of Medicine, Psychology), Ty Cannon (Psychology), John Carlson (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), B. J. Casey (Psychology), Marvin Chun (Psychology), Paul Forscher (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Jutta Joormann (Psychology), Douglas Kankel (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Haig Keshishian (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), †John Krystal (School of Medicine, Psychology), Rajit Manohar (Electrical Engineering), †Linda Mayes (School of Medicine, Psychology), Greg McCarthy (Psychology), Laurie Santos (Psychology), †Dana Small (School of Medicine, Psychology), †Jane Taylor (School of Medicine, Psychology), Nick Turk-Browne (Psychology), Robert Wyman (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology)

Associate Professors †Alan Anticevic (School of Medicine, Psychology), Arielle Baskin-Sommers (Psychology), Abhishek Bhattacharjee (Computer Science), †Sreeganga Chandra (School of Medicine, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Steve Chang (Psychology), Damon Clark (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), †Philip Corlett (School of Medicine, Psychology), Molly Crockett (Psychology), Thierry Emonet (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Avram Holmes (Psychology), †Hedy Kober (School of Medicine, Psychology), Smita Krishnaswamy (Genetics), †Ifat Levy (School of Medicine, Psychology), †James McPartland (School of Medicine, Psychology), Weimin Zhong (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology)

Assistant Professors  Dylan Gee (Psychology), Maria Gendron (Psychology), Julia Leonard (Psychology), Samuel McDougle (Psychology), †John Murray (School of Medicine, Physics), Michael O'Donnell (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Priya Panda (Electrical Engineering), Robb Rutledge (Psychology), Ilker Yildirim (Psychology)

Lecturers Stephanie Lazzaro (Psychology)

†A joint appointment with primary affiliation in another department or school.