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Program in Neuroscience

Director

Michael J. Berry, Co-Director

Elizabeth Gould, Co-Director

Executive Committee

Michael J. Berry, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Matthew M. Botvinick, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Lisa Boulanger, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Carlos D. Brody, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Jonathan D. Cohen, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Lynn W. Enquist, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Asif A. Ghazanfar, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Elizabeth Gould, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Michael S. Graziano, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Charles G. Gross, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Uri Hasson, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Bartley G. Hoebel, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Barry L. Jacobs, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Sabine Kastner, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Mala Murthy, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Yael Niv, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Kenneth A. Norman, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

David W. Tank, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Samuel S. H. Wang, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Associated Faculty

William Bialek, Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Jonathan T. Eggenschwiler, Molecular Biology

Alan Gelperin, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Philip J. Holmes, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Coleen T. Murphy, Molecular Biology, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Sits with Committee

David M. Blei, Computer Science

Rebecca D. Burdine, Molecular Biology

Andrew R. Conway, Psychology

Ingrid C. Daubechies, Mathematics, Applied and Computational Mathematics

Susan T. Fiske, Psychology

Elizabeth R. Gavis, Molecular Biology

James L. Gould, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Philip N. Johnson-Laird, Psychology

Daniel N. Osherson, Psychology

Deborah A. Prentice, Psychology

Peter J. Ramadge, Electrical Engineering

Michael V. Romalis, Physics

Daniel I. Rubenstein, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Robert E. Schapire, Computer Science

Clarence E. Schutt, Chemistry

Robert F. Stengel, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Jeffry B. Stock, Molecular Biology

Alexander T. Todorov, Psychology, Woodrow Wilson School

Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Psychology


The Program in Neuroscience is offered by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI). The program is designed for undergraduates with strong interests in molecular biology, psychology, and related disciplines who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary study of brain function. The program encourages the intensive study of molecular, cellular, developmental, systems, computational, cognitive, and social neuroscience. Students in the program will be prepared to meet the entry requirements of graduate schools in neuroscience, as well as molecular biology or psychology. Recent certificate students have included majors in molecular biology, psychology, ecology and evolutionary biology, computer science, philosophy, electrical engineering, physics, chemistry, and art and archaeology. Courses are chosen with the help of advisers in the molecular biology, psychology, and other related departments. 

In addition to fulfilling the course requirements, neuroscience certificate students gain experience working on neuroscience research projects.  Independent work is considered an important component of the neuroscience certificate program and students are encouraged to take advantage of the wide range of opportunities available on the Princeton campus.  Current examples of neuroscience research at Princeton include:  advanced instrumentation for imaging and electrophysiology, viral infections of the nervous system, event analysis at single synapses, brain imaging studies of cognitive functions such as attention and memory in human subjects, and mathematical and computational analysis of neural network function.  

Students who desire a more quantitative and computational focus in neuroscience, including those in the integrated sciences curriculum, can pursue the quantitative and computational neuroscience (QCN) track of the program as outlined below.

Admission to the Program

Students are admitted to the program once they have declared a major, selected an adviser, and submitted an enrollment form.  If the adviser is not a member of the PNI core or affiliated faculty, students will choose a co-adviser from this group late in the junior year.  Normally, students entering the program will have completed the prerequisites and the neuroscience requirements (other than electives) listed under the Program of Study.

Program of Study

Students in the Program in Neuroscience develop, in consultation with their home department adviser, a course of study built upon their departmental concentration that consists of the curriculum listed below, plus senior independent work in neuroscience, and electives.

Note: An asterisk indicates a one-time-only course or topic.

Prerequisites:

One year of mathematics, preferably taken at Princeton:
MAT 101 or 103, and MAT 102 or 104 or ORF 245, or advanced placement credit.

MOL 214 Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology or MOL 215 Quantitative Principles in Cell and Molecular Biology; or the integrated sciences curriculum (CHM/COS/MOL/PHY 231-4 as a freshman and CHM/COS/MOL/PHY 235-6 during the sophomore year)

Neuroscience Requirements:

NEU/PSY 258 Fundamentals of Neuroscience
NEU/PSY 259 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
NEU/MOL 408/PSY 404 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience

Two neuroscience electives from the approved list which is available on the PNI website.

In addition, a course in physics is highly recommended for advanced work in the program. Students in other departments should consult with their departmental representatives and the certificate program representatives to develop a course of study that incorporates the neuroscience requirements listed above.

Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience (QCN). QCN is a special honors track within the certificate in neuroscience. It is designed for undergraduates who wish to pursue an intensive computational approach to the study of brain function. Students must maintain a B+ average in the required courses and the senior thesis. As is the case with the Program in Neuroscience certificate, graduates of the QCN track will be prepared to meet the entry requirements of graduate school in neuroscience, as well as molecular biology or psychology; in addition, QCN students will have acquired computational, modeling, and programming skills. See the QCN website for more information.

Students pursuing the QCN track will complete the prerequisites and take two electives from among the following: NEU 437 (Computational Neuroscience), NEU 330 (Introduction to Connectionist Models: Bridging between Brain and Mind), *PSY/NEU 338 (Animal Learning and Decision Making: Psychological, Computational and Neural Perspectives), or *MAT/APC 351 (Topics in Mathematical Modeling: Mathematical Neuroscience), and either NEU 501B (Neuroscience: From Molecules to Systems to Behavior) or NEU 502B (From Molecules to Systems to Behavior). NEU 501B and NEU 502B are the lab courses which will introduce students to a variety of techniques and concepts used in modern neuroscience.

Study abroad courses cannot be used to fulfill the requirements but can be used as electives if the course is deemed comparable in level and content to neuroscience electives available at Princeton University.

Students considering medical school or an M.D./Ph.D. program may have additional course requirements, and should speak with a health professions adviser during their first year or second year at Princeton. Pre-medical students in psychology should plan on taking one additional biology laboratory course in order to meet medical school entrance requirements.

Junior and Senior Independent Research. Students will follow departmental guidelines for independent work during their junior year. While it is not required that students focus their work on neuroscience during their junior year, it is customary to extend research projects into the senior year, and it is therefore advantageous to begin a neuroscience focus early on in the program. For students concentrating in departments that make it impossible to do junior and senior work that fulfills both departmental and certificate program expectations, additional independent work may be required. For all students, independent research topics can be laboratory or theoretical research projects, and are approved in advance by the program directors, in consultation with faculty advisers. Program courses may not be taken pass/D/fail.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all the requirements of the program will receive a certificate in neuroscience upon graduation.


Courses


NEU 101 Neuroscience and Everyday Life (also MOL 110)   Spring ST

This lecture and laboratory course will acquaint non-science majors with classical and modern neuroscience. Lectures will give an overview at levels ranging from molecular signaling to cognitive science with a focus on the neuroscience of everyday life, from the general (love, memory, and personality) to the particular (jet lag, autism, and weight loss). The laboratory will offer hands-on experience in recording signals from single neurons, examining neural structures, and analysis of whole-brain functional brain imaging data. S. Wang, A. Gelperin

NEU 258 Fundamentals of Neuroscience (also PSY 258)   Fall

An introduction to brain function, neuroscience, and physiological psychology. The first half will survey structure and function of the nervous system. The second half will deal in depth with selected problems in the neuroscience of motivation (e.g., appetite), emotion (e.g., addiction) and mental disorder (e.g., chronic depression). Appropriate for departmental and non-departmental students, particularly pre-medical, pre-psychology, and pre-neuroscience students. Two lectures, one preceptorial. A. Ghazanfar

NEU 259A Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (also PSY 259A)   Spring EC

An introduction to cognitive brain functions, including higher perceptual functions, attention and selective perception, systems for short- and long-term memory, language, cerebral lateralization, motor control, executive functions of the frontal lobe, cognitive development and plasticity, and the problem of consciousness. Major neuropsychological syndromes (e.g., agnosia, amnesia) will be discussed. Prerequisite: 258 or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. Y. Niv

NEU 259B Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (also PSY 259B)   Spring ST

An introduction to cognitive brain functions, including higher perceptual functions, attention and selective perception, systems for short- and long-term memory, language, cerebral lateralization, motor control, executive functions of the frontal lobe, cognitive development and plasticity, and the problem of consciousness. Major neuropsychological syndromes (e.g., agnosia, amnesia) will be discussed. Prerequisite: 258 or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures, one three-hour laboratory. Y. Niv

NEU 306 Memory and Cognition (see PSY 306)

NEU 330 Introduction to Connectionist Models: Bridging between Brain and Mind (also PSY 330)   Not offered this year ST

A fundamental goal of cognitive neuroscience is to understand how psychological functions such as attention, memory, language, and decisionmaking arise from computations performed by assemblies of neurons in the brain. This course will provide an introduction to the use of connectionist models (also known as neural network or parallel distributed processing models) as a tool for exploring how psychological functions are implemented in the brain, and how they go awry in patients with brain damage. Prerequisite: instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. K. Norman

NEU 336 The Diversity of Brains (see PSY 336)

NEU 408 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (also MOL 408/PSY 404)   Fall

A survey of fundamental principles in neurobiology at the biophysical, cellular, and system levels. Lectures will address the basis of the action potential, synaptic transmission and plasticity, local circuit computation, sensory physiology, and motor control. Prerequisites: MOL 214 or MOL 215, PSY 258, PHY 103-104, and MAT 103-104, or permission of instructor. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. M. Berry

NEU 410 Depression: From Neuron to Clinic (see PSY 410)

NEU 437 Computational Neuroscience (also MOL 437/PSY 437)   Spring

Introduction to the biophysics of nerve cells and synapses, and the mathematics of neural networks. How can networks of neurons compute? How do we model and analyze data from neuroscientific experiments? Data from experiments running at Princeton will be used as examples (e.g., blowfly visual system, hippocampal slice, rodent prefrontal cortex). Each topic will have a lecture and a computer laboratory component. Prerequisite: 410, or elementary knowledge of linear algebra, differential equations, probability, and basic programming ability, or permission of the instructor. Two 90 minute lectures, one laboratory. C. Brody