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Course Descriptions

Neuroscience Courses

NEUR 116: Exploring the Brain

This course will address how the mind and brain work by exploring current and classical neurobiological topics, particularly those of interest to college students, through the use of professional and academic journals, textbooks, popular magazines and newspapers, as well as other media sources. Topics will include neuronal development and neuronal death; diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, depression, and psychiatric disorders; and topics such as drugs and alcoholism. (This course satisfies Natural Science.)
cross listed: BIOL 116


NEUR 117: Robots & Brains: Fantasies & Facts

Will computers ever become conscious? Will robots ever have the degree of sentience described in science fiction or shown in films? How does the human mind emerge from the workings of the human brain? How is our brain different from, and simultaneously similar to, the brains of other animals? How are the 'wet brains' of animals different from, and similar to, the 'dry brains' of computers? Readings will include introductory materials on the brain, on mind and consciousness, on science fiction stories about robots, on scholarly and popular articles from current work in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Students who have previously enrolled in FIYS 128 may not enroll in this course. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Social Science and Speaking Intensive.)


NEUR 118: Our Amazing Brain

This course will introduce students to the science behind how a human brain functions and produces behaviors. This amazing organ is composed of billions of neurons that form trillions of connections with each other. These neurons allow us to sense and perceive the world around us, integrate new experiences with old ones, form thoughts and actions, and develop consciousness and personality. In this course, students will discover how brain dysfunction is the root cause of many illnesses, including addiction, schizophrenia, depression, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease. Students will also have the opportunity to work with preserved brains. No prior experience with science is required to succeed in this course. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Natural Science.)
cross listed: BIOL 118, PSYC 118


NEUR 128: Medical Mysteries of the Mind

(Introduction to Neuroscience: Medical Mysteries of the Mind.) This course is for beginning students interested in the study of neuroscience and in exploring the human brain in a rigorous interdisciplinary way. If you are intensely interested in how your brain helps you think, feel, sense, read, write, eat, sleep, dream, learn and move, this course is for you. You learn how brain dysfunction causes complex medical illnesses, like Alzheimer's, Stroke, Depression, and Schizophrenia. You meet Chicago's world-class neuroscientists through guest seminars and class-trips to famous laboratories. You debate ethical dilemmas that face society and dissect human brains. Lastly, you present your research on a brain topic at an interdisciplinary symposium and teach elementary children about how the brain works. One year each of high school biology and chemistry is recommended. Students who have taken BIOL130 will not receive credit for this course. Two discussion/lecture and two laboratory hours per week. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Natural Science and Speaking Intensive.)
cross listed: BIOL 128, PSYC 128


NEUR 130: Deadly Shapes, Hostage Brains

Age-related neurological diseases that hold our brain hostage are major 21st-century global health burdens and are among the most actively funded areas of medical research. In this course, students delve into primary literature through research projects that investigate how deadly protein shapes underlie complex neurodegenerative illnesses, like Alzheimer's, Huntington disease, and Parkinson disease and discover how little we still know, despite astonishing advances. Students dissect human brains to understand the underlying brain pathology. Trips to Chicago to visit neurology laboratories, neuroscience research centers, and attend a major neuroscience conference present the latest advances in neurological research. Additionally, students debate ethical dilemmas that face society as neuroscientists race towards solving current medical mysteries and experiment with potential new treatments. Students who have taken FIYS106 will not receive credit for this course. Two discussion/lecture and two laboratory hours per week. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Natural Science and Speaking Intensive.)
cross listed: BIOL 130, PSYC 130


NEUR 209: Human Physiology

This course begins with a review of the cellular processes that influence the survival of all physiological systems in the human body. Following that foundation, a deeper exploration into the function of each major system is emphasized. The lecture component includes the functional study of muscular, neurophysiological, special sensory, immune, endocrine, hematologic, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems. Metabolomics, fluid-electrolyte and acid-base balance is incorporated into their respective physiological systems. Lab focuses on physiological experimentation and application. This course is intended primarily for students who aspire to enter into health fields. Prerequisites: BIOL120, CHEM115, and BIOL 208.
cross listed: HPPC 209, BIOL 209


NEUR 232: Stories from the Spectrum

(Stories from the Spectrum: Neurodiversity, Health, and Medicine in Literature.) A boy with a penchant for prime numbers investigates the death of a dog. A young girl is scolded for failing to look her teacher in the eye. A man in the throes of a midlife crisis returns to his nonverbal son as he spiritually finds himself. Hidden within these narratives of neurodiverse characters, one discovers a slew of cultural assumptions about cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Do neurotypical writers often turn to autism reductively, as a stand-in for a theme or metaphor? What might an authentic representation of Autism Spectrum look like? This course considers the value of neurodiversity in literature while exploring many of the troubling representations of cognitive difference across time, from earlier accounts of un-speaking children to the "rain mans" of contemporary film. This course ultimately takes seriously the bi-directional intersections between fiction and medicine, as real-life medical practices both shape and are shaped by these stories from the spectrum. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Humanities and Writing Intensive.)
cross listed: ENGL 232


NEUR 249: Brains, Minds, and Madness in Liter

(Brains, Minds, and Madness in Literature.) Stories invite us into the minds of others. As readers, we step into another's consciousness: into fictional memories, sensations, and narratives that feel real, as the words of often-dead writers become part of our own brain-matter. Yet, how do our theories of the mind and its operations relate to literary representations of a character's interiority? And what can contemporary neuroscience teach us about literature, or about our own minds on literature? In this course, we examine stories and theories of the mind across time, exploring scientific writing about the brain alongside literary masterpieces from Jane Austen to Ian McEwan. Moreover, we consider the close connection between sanity and insanity, examining the representations of madness and other neurological ailments in brains gone "wrong." No Prerequisites. (This course satisfies Humanities.)
cross listed: ENGL 249


NEUR 254: The Mind Onstage

(The Mind Onstage: Performance, Action, Emotion.) In the last decade, prominent theater scholars have integrated neuroscience research into their studies. Their excitement stems from the realization that current scientific research seems to speak directly to one of the major concerns of theatre scholars for decades: How does performing and/or watching a performance affect the brain? In this interdisciplinary class, students study plays that depict neuroscience and neurological conditions, learn about how theatre is used therapeutically, and read contemporary and classic theatrical theory, as we explore the ways science and the humanities can intersect. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Humanities and Writing Intensive.)
cross listed: THTR 254


NEUR 268: Music and the Mind

In this course, we wrestle with fundamental questions regarding music and the human experience. Why does music exist? How did it evolve in the human species? What, exactly, does it do to us, as listeners and as practitioners? How does music change our brains? Is there really such a thing as a "Mozart Effect?" What new promises are there for therapeutic uses for music? Music's presence in the human species is clearly puzzling. While many scholars have speculated a reason for its existence, there is no definitive answer as to why we make music. Nevertheless, we do make music. There is not a single human culture on Earth that has no music. Some of the books we will be reading include Musicophilia, The Singing Neanderthals, and This is Your Brain on Music. Note that this is a course that requires students to give oral presentations. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Humanities.)
cross listed: MUSC 268


NEUR 291: Descartes to Kant

Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophers, with a primary focus on epistemology and metaphysics, including the essence of the mind and its relation to the body. Readings will include Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. No prerequisites. (This course satisfies Humanities and Writing Intensive.)
cross listed: PHIL 291


NEUR 296: Philosophy of Mind

With the rise of Cognitive Science, Computer Science, and Neuroscience, questions about the nature of mind have become increasingly important, and in the last 40 years much work on philosophy of mind has been done in analytic philosophy. The class will begin with an examination of some of the most influential texts in philosophy of mind from the last 50 years, and then proceed to current topics. Central questions may include: What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is it possible to offer explanations of mental states by reducing them to biological, chemical, or physical states? Can human consciousness be best explained in terms of a computer model? Is it possible to describe the functioning of human thought in terms of a rule-based system of processing? (This course satisfies Humanities.)
cross listed: PHIL 296


NEUR 301: Neuroscience: Neuron to Brain

Neuroscience, the scientific study of the nervous system, is an inherently interdisciplinary field involving multiple levels of analysis. This course serves biology students, as an elective, and neuroscience students, as the first course in the two-part core neuroscience sequence. The course explores basic concepts in brain, mind, and behavior from a sub-organismal perspective. Current issues are examined within a broad integrative framework that begins with the cellular and molecular physiology of individual neurons. This lays the groundwork for the study of how molecules control the development of neuronal pathways and networks that underlie sensory, integrative, and motor systems. In addition, the course explores the molecular genetic basis of complex brain functions including learning, memory, affect, sleep, homeostasis, and ultimately, cognition. The accompanying laboratory provides students with hands-on experiences in the contemporary methods and experimental approaches of cellular and integrative neurophysiology. Three discussion and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, CHEM 116.
cross listed: BIOL 346, BMB 346


NEUR 302: Neuroscience: Brain to Behavior

Neuroscience, the scientific study of the nervous system, is an inherently interdisciplinary field involving multiple levels of analysis. This course serves psychology students, as a natural science menu option, and neuroscience students, as the second course in the two-part core neuroscience sequence. This course approaches the study of brain, mind, and behavior from systems-level and behavioral perspectives. Current issues are examined within an integrative framework that begins with a focus on neuroanatomy, functional neural circuits, and diffuse modulatory neurotransmitter systems. This lays the groundwork for later study of the neural substrates of motivated behaviors (e.g., eating, sex, drug use), learning, memory, emotion, as well as aspects of neurodevelopment and neuroplasticity. Research methods and tools of behavioral neuroscience are featured throughout the course, through careful examination of primary journal articles and through hands-on experiences in weekly laboratory sessions. Three discussion and two laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: Psychology 221 with a grade of at least C-.
cross listed: PSYC 370L


NEUR 310: Sensation and Pereception

As you go through your day, you are constantly sensing and perceiving: You feel the warmth of the hot shower on your skin, you smell the aroma of the coffee in your cup, you taste the disagreeable tartness of your orange juice after brushing your teeth, you see the bright colors of the spring day on your way to class, you hear the words of your instructor and you organize them into coherent ideas. This course explores the anatomy and physiology of the sensory systems and the way in which the raw sensory signals become organized into meaningful perceptions. Prerequisite: PSYC 222 with a grade of at least C-. (Cross listed as PSYC 310).
cross listed: PSYC 310


NEUR 320: Learning

This course examines the theoretical approaches, historical influences, and contemporary research in human and animal learning. In addition to providing a strong background in classical, operant, and contemporary conditioning models, this course explores the applications of these principles in a variety of contexts, such as behavioral therapy, drug addiction, self-control, decision-making, motor skill acquisition, and education. Furthermore, this course surveys the commonalities and differences across species in cognitive processes, such as memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and language. Prerequisite: Psychology 222 with a grade of at least C-.
cross listed: PSYC 320


NEUR 322: Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is the theory that biological phenomena have molecular explanations. Communicating molecular biology results is critical for health professionals and researchers who will need to interpret and communicate the results of molecular tests and discover molecular mechanisms. This course focuses on student abilities to communicate results to answer five biological questions: "what is the evidence DNA is the genetic material?", "How does genetic information become a trait?", "How are DNA, RNA, and protein measured?", "How are genes regulated?", and "How is the genome maintained?" In lab, students will conduct a course-based undergraduate research experience to study the effect of an anti-cancer drug on the DNA of colorectal cancer cells. The lab report connects the lecture and lab as the final. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Chem 116 and Biol 221.
cross listed: BIOL 322, BMB 322


NEUR 324: Advanced Cell Biology

The structure and function of the cell and its organelles, with emphasis on membrane-related processes including transport, energetics, cell-to-cell signaling, and nerve and muscle cell function. Research reports will include extensive library and Internet exploration and analysis. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 324, BMB 324


NEUR 325: Artificial Intelligence

This course is an introduction to AI via various techniques and theory including, but not limited to, state space search strategies; deterministic and nondeterministic finite automata and Turing machines; neural networks and deep learning; natural language processing (NLP); computer vision; reinforcement learning; and large language models (LLMs). Prerequisite: Computer Science 212.
cross listed: CSCI 325


NEUR 326: Immunology

This course introduces students to the major players of innate and adaptive immunity at the cellular and molecular levels. Topics include immune receptors and signal transduction, cell migration, development of lymphocyte subsets, humoral and cellular immunity, and immunological disorders. Students are expected to develop a semester-long research project that will tackle one of the current challenges that affect the human immune response.Three lecture hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 326, BMB 326


NEUR 327: Frontiers in Cell Biology & Disease

The structure and function of the cell and its organelles, and how these relate to disease, with emphasis on the extracellular matrix, membrane-related processes including transport, cell-to-cell signaling, protein processing, and post-transcriptional regulation. Current techniques will be explored in the context of primary research literature. Research reports will include extensive library and Internet exploration and analysis. Three lecture hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 325, BMB 325


NEUR 330: Motivation and Emotion

The broad range of motivations and emotions is studied including the relative contributions of learning, genetics, and critical periods in development. How and why did motivations and emotions evolve, and what are their bases in brain systems, hormones, and other aspects of physiology? Which of our motivations involve accurate regulations to a 'set point' (such as body temperature and weight) and which do not? How does the great subtlety of human emotional expression develop? Includes consideration of competency, security, creativity, frustration, aggression, love, sexuality, and values. Prerequisite: PSYC 221 with a grade of at least C-. (Cross listed as PSYC 330).
cross listed: PSYC 330


NEUR 340: Animal Physiology

This course focuses on mechanisms of homeostasis in vertebrates and invertebrates. A particular emphasis is placed on examining specific adaptations (functional, morphological, and behavioral) to different environmental conditions, as well as problems associated with physical size. Topics include integration and response to stimuli, gas exchange, circulation, movement, buoyancy, metabolism, thermal regulation, osmoregulation, and excretion. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. This course fulfills the pre-requisite for physiology in the health professions. Prerequisites: BIOL 221 and BIOL 220 or permission of the instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 340, BMB 340


NEUR 342: Developmental Biology

Analysis of the genetic, molecular, cellular, and structural changes that occur between fertilization and the development of the adult form. This course examines many concepts including establishment of cell fates, stem cells, morphogenesis, and sex determination. Students also analyze key experiments and methods through primary literature that have provided an understanding of development. The laboratory demonstrates important developmental principles, allowing students to engage in projects of their own design to examine environmental and genetic contributions to development through the use of invertebrate organisms. Three discussion and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, and either BIOL 220 or Junior status. Students must also register for a lab. (Cross listed as BIOL 342 and BMB 342).
cross listed: BIOL 342, BMB 342


NEUR 344: Animal Behavior

A study of current ideas about the biological basis and evolution of animal behavior. Topics will include molecular, hormonal, and genetic bases of behavior; adaptive behavior patterns; mating systems and reproductive behavior; and evolution of altruism and helping behavior. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 220, and either Biol 221 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 344


NEUR 350: Psychopathology & Clinical Science

This course is an introduction to the contemporary empirical science of聽psychopathology鈥攐r, more simply, the study of聽psychological disorders. Much of the course is devoted to learning about a wide range of diagnoses, including their associated clinical characteristics, proposed etiologies (causes), and treatments. We consider a variety of perspectives, paradigms, and methods, including the connections between biological,聽psychological, and social foundations of聽psychopathology. We reflect critically on the current state of our knowledge, including, crucially, what we don鈥檛 yet know with confidence. We raise challenging questions: how do we even define 鈥減sychological disorder鈥 in the first place? Are聽psychological disorders 鈥渏ust鈥 brain disorders? What are the consequences (positive or negative) of being diagnosed with a聽psychological disorder? We also challenge common myths and stereotypes that pervade our social discourse and contribute to stigma. Throughout the course, we keep in mind that how we define and treat聽psychological disorders is a reflection of our evolving cultural and scientific paradigms鈥攁nd has profound consequences for real people. Prerequisite:聽Psychology 221 with a grade of at least C-.
cross listed: PSYC 350


NEUR 351: Personal Genetics

The human genome comprises roughly 21,000 genes, each with its own variants and intricacies of function. A student chooses one gene in which they are personally interested (perhaps the gene causing celiac disease or breast cancer), researches and discusses the function of the gene with their peers, designs a way to clone the gene from their own cells (or from an anonymous donor), and obtains the DNA sequence of part of their gene. The project culminates in a grant proposal. The decision on which gene is studied is entirely student-driven. Other topics include the use of model organisms or cell cultures in the study of human disease, advanced mechanisms of gene editing like CRISPR-Cas9, or state of the art cancer treatments like CAR T-cell therapy. This course is a combination of four hours seminar and laboratory, and senior capstone experience will be earned with one 300-level course as prerequisite and advanced work. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, CHEM 116, and either BIOL 220 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 351, BMB 351


NEUR 352: From Genotype to Phenotype

A study of the molecular basis for inheritance, particularly with respect to human traits and disorders. Topics include the structure, expression, and segregation of genes and chromosomes, the use of model organisms in the study of human disease, genetic engineering, gene therapy, and principles of genome science. The laboratory will apply current molecular techniques to an original course-based undergraduate research experience. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, and either BIOL 220 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 352, BMB 352


NEUR 360: Cognitive Psychology

Surveys the history, philosophy, and research surrounding selected issues in cognitive psychology, including perception, attention, memory, language, imagery, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making. Students will learn what is currently known about these topics, the problems facing researchers, and how researchers go about solving these problems. They also will be given the opportunity to experience cognitive psychology research first-hand, as they participate in classic experiments and learn to analyze, interpret, and write up their results. Prerequisite: Psychology 222 with a grade of at least C-.
cross listed: PSYC 360


NEUR 362: Mechanisms of Brain Dysfunction

This course will examine the biochemical and molecular basis of both rare and common nervous system disorders that are at the frontiers of molecular medicine. Students will select from illnesses that disable processes as diverse as memory, language, cognition, sensation, movement, emotion, and homeostasis. A special emphasis will be placed on investigating the primary causes of dysfunction, such as the role of protein misfolding, genetics, and neurotransmitters. By discussing the latest primary literature students will gain current understanding of neurological and psychiatric illnesses, as well as insights into the techniques and methods used in this field. Students will seek to further new knowledge by authoring an original grant proposal. Finally, depending on the semester offered, students will serve as advanced peer mentors for first year students either enrolled in FIYS 106 or BIOL 130 courses. Prerequisite: BIOL 221. Two 80-minute sessions per week. (This course satisfies Writing Intensive.)
cross listed: BIOL 362, BMB 362


NEUR 365: The Neuroscience of Sleep

Why do we sleep? Despite the fact that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, neuroscience research has only just begun to answer this fundamental question. In this course, we delve into the fascinating field of brain-based research by investigating several sleep-related topics (e.g., sleep across species, the role of sleep in cognitive functions, sleep disorders, and dreaming). We explore these topics through the lens of contemporary neuroscientific work, so the majority of class time is dedicated to student-led presentations and discussions of primary research articles. Outside of class, students conduct independent research on a niche sleep-related topic, ultimately developing a thorough literature review and an original grant proposal. Prerequisites: BIOL 221 and PSYC 110 or permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Natural Science.)
cross listed: BIOL 365, BMB 365, PSYC 365


NEUR 372: Pharmacology: Drug, Brain, Behavior

In this course, we will explore ideas and principles regarding neuronal communication and drug interactions that govern behavior. We will explore communication patterns of both electrical and chemical signaling, define complex dynamics of drug distributions and identify how these processes are influenced by individual genetics. This class will also investigate the interaction between neurotransmitters and drugs at specific neuronal receptors, which will be discussed from the perspective of agonism and antagonism. We will use these principles to guide our understanding of pharmaco-therapeutics that are focused on symptom targeting. Students will also have the opportunity to discuss clinical cases and participate in the development of strategic therapeutic approaches based on current research towards the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Prerequisites: PSYC110 and BIOL221 with a grade of at least C-, or permission of instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 372, PSYC 372, BMB 372


NEUR 375: Neuroethics

Neuroethics is an emerging interdisciplinary field that incorporates the findings of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and philosophy to tackle key ethical issues in science, philosophy, health, and medicine. In this discipline, we explore two primary areas of study. The first is the neuroscience of ethics, which asks what current research in neuroscience and related fields can tell us about ethics. The second is the ethics of neuroscience, which asks how the study of ethics can inform emerging technologies and findings from the rapidly developing field of neuroscience. This course introduces students to both areas of research. As such, the course investigates a variety of questions related to free will, moral reasoning, memory, neuroenhancement, neuromarketing, cognitive enhancement, and how the law deals with these issues. Prerequisite: at least one 100- level course in philosophy, neuroscience, or psychology, or permission from the instructor. (This course satisfies Humanities.)
cross listed: PHIL 375


NEUR 385: Comparative Psychology

In this course, students explore the key themes and classic studies of comparative psychology - the psychological investigation of the similarities and differences of animal species. Psychology and neuroscience research depends on studies using nonhuman species to examine both experimental and clinical topics. This course covers the types of comparisons made in the discipline, the overarching questions that provide structure to the field, and the more recent expansion of new technologies and taxonomic scope that comparative psychology has experienced. During the course, students both critique and implement the way in which comparative psychology bridges both subfields of psychology (e.g., neurophysiology, cognition, emotion, perception) and other realms of social sciences and natural sciences (e.g., ethology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence). Prerequisite: Psychology 221 with a grade of at least C-.
cross listed: PSYC 385


NEUR 387: Investigations in Neurodegeneration

(Experimental Investigations in Neurodegeneration) The molecular and cellular basis for neurodegenerative disease is an important topic in neuroscience. Understanding the mechanisms of protein and cellular dysfunction is essential to developing therapies for these devastating disorders. This course combines an introduction to the major neurodegenerative diseases with laboratory investigations that specifically focus on Alzheimer's disease (AD) mechanisms. In lecture, we examine the major principles that connect neurodegenerative diseases and those that differentiate them, followed by an in-depth analysis of our current understanding of the molecular and biochemical contributions of amyloid beta and tau proteins and microglial cells in AD. The laboratory component utilizes a mammalian cell culture-based model system widely used in AD research. Students design and carry out novel experiments focused on ways to manipulate the secretion of amyloid beta from these cells. The lab is intended to enhance student professional development through research. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIOL 221 or permission of instructor (This course satisfies Experiential Learning.)
cross listed: BMB 387L, BIOL 387L


NEUR 388: The Malleable Brain

(The Malleable Brain: Mechanisms of Neural Plasticity) This course studies the remarkable fact that the brain is malleable or changeable. Neurons are constantly altering their behavior at a cellular and molecular level to help us learn, remember, and adapt to new situations. This neuronal plasticity is an essential mechanism of the normal functioning brain but, when plasticity is aberrant, disease is likely to occur. We will examine the mechanisms of neuronal plasticity, probe current techniques utilized by researchers, and evaluate primary research articles. We will consider how plasticity contributes to the learning and encoding of new information throughout the lifespan, as well as how aberrant plasticity contributes to disorders such as post-traumatic stress, addiction, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's disease. We also will explore how these disorders are currently treated with drugs and therapy. Prerequisites: BIOL 221 and PSYC 110 or permission of the instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 388, PSYC 388


NEUR 389: Evolution

This course will focus on the mechanisms of evolutionary change, ranging from short-term microevolutionary processes within populations to the origins of new species. Topics will include evidence for evolution, short-term microevolutionary processes, natural selection, adaptation, phylogenetic reconstruction, divergence and speciation, 'evo-devo', and human evolution. Classroom sessions will consist of lectures, discussions, and student presentations. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week (including Field Museum trips). Prerequisites: Biol 220, and either Biol 221 or Junior status.
cross listed: BIOL 389, BMB 389


NEUR 415: The Neuroscience of Emotion


cross listed: PSYC 415


NEUR 420: The Neuroscience of Reward

"Reward" is a concept with which most people are familiar: a hard-earned vacation at the end of a grueling work schedule, an A grade on a particularly challenging academic assignment, a good meal and a glass of wine after a long day鈥檚 work. However, this everyday usage of the term belies its complexity. In this course, we will explore "reward" from behavioral and neurobiological perspectives, often focusing on associative learning paradigms that allow for careful dissection of appetitive and consummatory behaviors. We will consider the underlying neural circuitry that enables individuals to learn about rewards and cues that signal these motivationally significant events. Our analysis will emphasize the similarities and distinctions between natural reward and drug reward. Prerequisite: PSYC 222 with a grade of at least C- or advanced standing in another major, with permission of the instructor. Preference in registration to graduating seniors majoring in psychology or neuroscience.
cross listed: PSYC 420


NEUR 465: Drugs, Substance Use, and Addiction

This senior seminar involves the study of psychoactive drugs used both for recreational and therapeutic purposes. In this course, we cover the foundational principles of psychopharmacology, current trends in substance use, the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders, and the models of addiction. We discuss how individual drugs function, address the complex psychological, social, and biological factors that influence substance use, and explore the major theories of addiction. We use primary literature to examine drug use from multiple perspectives. Over the course of the semester, students will 1) present articles and lead peer discussion of empirical research, 2) compose a review examining a specific drug of their choosing, and 3) submit a research proposal outlining a novel preclinical or clinical experiment. Prerequisite: PSYC 222 with a grade of at least C- or advanced standing in another major, with permission of the instructor. Preference in registration to graduating seniors majoring in psychology or neuroscience. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: PSYC 465


NEUR 470: Sr Sem: Telomeres, Race, and Cancer

(Senior Seminar: Telomeres, Race, and Cancer.) This course examines telomeres, the tips of chromosomes, which serve a variety of protective cellular functions. Shortened telomeres may lead to decreased lifespan. Telomere length reduction can also be observed in some racial groups, lower socioeconomic groups, and chronically stressed individuals. Conversely, telomeres in some aberrant cells can be lengthened by the enzyme telomerase, leading to cell immortalization and tumor formation. Telomerase is one of the hallmarks of cancer, showing elevated levels in about 90% of tumors. Specific topics depend on student interest and consist of student-led journal clubs, discussions, and a grant proposal project. Prerequisite: Open to senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BIOL 470, BMB 470


NEUR 471: Sr Sem: Neuroscience of Movement

(Senior Seminar: Neuroscience of Movement and Related Disorders.) Do you remember that scene in The Matrix where Neo downloads the ability to do karate? Ever wondered what was actually "downloaded"? This senior seminar explores the neurobiological mechanisms underlying movement generation and control. We examine how the brain plans and executes movements, the changes that happen when the brain learns new movements, and what happens when these systems go awry (such as in Parkinson's Disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and sensory deficits). We also discuss modern techniques to rehabilitate and enhance movement such as brain stimulation and neuro-prosthetics. Precise topics depend on student interests. Students write an original grant proposal, based on which they would design, execute, and present a research project, along with in-class presentations of primary literature. Prerequisite: Open to senior biology and neuroscience majors who have completed core courses and at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BIOL 471


NEUR 472: Sr Sem: Data Analytics in Life Sci

(Senior Seminar: Data Analytics in Life Science Applications.) Data is increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives. Especially in the sciences, gone are the days of simply observing and instead we must be able to analyze the world around us. This senior seminar provides a foundation to working with data in the real world. Students learn to organize, analyze, visualize, and document data through hands-on experience working with existing datasets collected from biology, neuroscience, biochemistry/molecular biology and more. Students learn the basics of Python Programing Language and how to leverage it to analyze any type of dataset. Students review primary literature behind a novel data processing technique, write a registered report for their chosen dataset, then execute their analysis plan and present their findings. Prerequisite: Open to senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BIOL 472, BMB 472


NEUR 474: The Genetic Basis of Behavior

(Senior Seminar: The Genetic Basis of Behavior) This course examines the genes and underlying molecular mechanisms that contribute to behaviors exhibited across the animal kingdom. Special emphasis is placed on an integrative understanding of how molecular level change contributes to organism behavior, and how those changes were evolutionarily selected. Precise topics depend on student interests. Class is comprised of short lectures, discussions of primary literature, and student presentations, which support development of a significant written work over the semester. Prerequisites: Open to senior Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BIOL 474, BMB 474


NEUR 475: Sr Sem: Molecular Machines

The ability to interpret protein and other biomolecular structural data is a key skill for anyone interested in molecular medicine, chemical biology, neuroscience, pharmacology, biology, evolution, and related fields. Recent technological advances in X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and machine learning have opened an abundance of new opportunities to solve how proteins and other biomolecules evolved to meet specific functions for living systems. After learning how protein structures are measured, students select recent protein structural discoveries relevant to their major or interests, present how those structures enable protein functions, depict protein structures, engage students in discussion, and propose new experiments based on new structural data. Prerequisite: Open to senior Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BMB 415, BIOL 415


NEUR 477: Mechanisms of Neurological Disease

(Senior Seminar: Mechanisms of Neurological Disease.) This course examines our current understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders (i.e. autism), psychiatric disorders (i.e. depression, schizophrenia), and neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's). Special emphasis is placed on a comparative analysis of model organism and human clinical research. Precise topics depend on student interests. Classes involve discussions of primary literature, student presentations, and short lectures. Prerequisites: Open to senior Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Natural Science and Speaking Intensive.)
cross listed: BIOL 477, BMB 477


NEUR 478: Animal Survial Extreme Habitats

This course examines how a variety of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial animals survive in extreme habitats. The course explores physiological, sensory, and behavioral adaptations in animals by the different types of harsh environments they inhabit 鈥 the shallowest, the deepest, the coldest, the hottest, and so on 鈥 to see how life thrives under challenging conditions. This seminar not only emphasizes animal diversity and unique adaptations, but also how scientists gather information about these animals and communicate their findings to the scientific community and general public. Classes involve discussions stemming from scientific literature, student presentations, and short lectures. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BIOL 478


NEUR 480: Sr Sem: Neural Frontiers

This course is designed to provide a scholarship capstone for biology and neuroscience majors. Students will explore diverse topics of their interest at the frontiers of neuroscience, one of the most active research fields of the 21st century that is regularly considered as science's final frontier. Students will select from topics as diverse as memory, language, cognition, sensation, movement, neural stem cells, and complex neurological diseases. Students will engage in the art of being a scientific scholar in three complementary ways. They will learn new knowledge by discussing the latest primary literature in journal clubs. They will seek new knowledge by authoring an original grant proposal. They will explore how a career in science extends knowledge by role-playing a world famous neuroscientist. Finally students will serve as consultants for First-Year Studies students. Prerequisite: Open to senior biology and neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Speaking Intensive.)
cross listed: BIOL 480


NEUR 481: Sr Sem: Oncology

(Senior Seminar: Oncology) This course will examine characteristics of cancer at the cellular and organismal levels, as well as investigate the current methods of treatment and prevention of cancer.聽This will involve intensive library research, report writing, and student led discussions and presentations. Two 80-minute meetings per week.聽Prerequisite: Open to senior biology and neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 481


NEUR 482: Sr Sem: Sex & Evolution

(Senior Seminar: Sex and Evolution) An application of evolutionary principles to understanding phenomena related to sexual reproduction. This seminar will emphasize theory and empirical tests of theory reported in the primary literature in evolution, behavior, and genetics. Exact topics will depend on student interests. Classes will involve discussions, student presentations, and short lectures. Prerequisite: Open to senior biology and neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 482


NEUR 485: Sr Sem: The Nobel Prizes

(Senior Seminar: The Nobel Prizes: A Century of Innovation and Discovery) Koch, Fleming, Muller, Watson, Crick, von Bekesy, Golgi, and y Cajal are all Nobel Prize winners. Why are some names known to non-science students, whereas others are not even recognizable to most scientists? Every fall the Nobel Prize committee announces their awards. While their deliberations are shrouded in secrecy, the fame of the award is such that the general public often knows the names of winners. This course will examine the work and life of select prize winners in physiology/medicine and chemistry over the past 100 years. Reading will include the original work by the Novel laureates, as well as biographies and autobiographies of the winners. Discussion, presentations and papers will examine the impact of the winners' work, including a critical analysis of how important the work was at the time and how important it remains today, and why some awards were given years after the work was conducted, while others were recognized within a few years. The course will also include a history of the prize and of Alfred Nobel, and explore controversies associated with the award, including the dearth of female recipients. The semester will conclude with nominations for next year's award winners. Prerequisite: Open to senior biology, biochemistry & molecular biology, and neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 485, BMB 485


NEUR 488: Sr Sem: Cellular Basis of Disease

(Senior Seminar: Cellular Basis of Disease) A study of the cellular and molecular basis of human disease, such as cancer or diabetes. Classes involve intensive library research, report writing, and student presentations. Open to senior Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (This course satisfies Senior Studies.)
cross listed: BIOL 488, BMB 488


NEUR 489: Sr Sem: Biology of War

War can have devastating effects on human health and the environment. Factors considered in this course include nuclear fallout, widespread pesticide (e.g. Agent Orange), biological weapons, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and natural resource availability. An analysis of primary literature will be used to explore and analyze the myriad biological effects of modern and historical warfare. Prerequisite: Open to senior biology and neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor.
cross listed: BIOL 489


NEUR 493: Research Project

Research in collaboration with a departmental faculty member. Consult with any member of the department for application information. (This course satisfies Experiential Learning.)


NEUR 494: Senior Thesis

Research guided by a departmental faculty member culminating in a senior thesis, fulfilling the College's Senior Studies Requirement. Consult any member of the department for further information.