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Program in Neuroscience

Director

Michael J. Berry, Co-Director

Asif Ghazanfar, Co-Director

Executive Committee

Michael J. Berry, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Matthew M. Botvinick, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Lisa M. Boulanger, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Carlos D. Brody, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Timothy J. Buschman, Psychology, 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

Uri Hasson, 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

H. Sebastian Seung, Computer Science, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

David W. Tank, Molecular Biology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

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

Ilana B. Witten, Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Associated Faculty

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

Elizabeth R. Gavis, 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

Joshua W. Shaevitz, Physics, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Jordan A. Taylor, Psychology

Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Psychology


The Program in Neuroscience is offered by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. The neuroscience certificate program is designed for undergraduates with strong interests in pursuing an interdisciplinary study of the brain. The program encourages the serious study of molecular, cellular, developmental, and systems neuroscience as it interfaces with cognitive and behavioral research. Current neuroscience research examples at Princeton include: plasticity and timing-dependent learning rules at synapses, coincidence detection and computation in dendrites, adaptation and pattern detection in neural circuits, cellular and circuit mechanisms of short-term memory, sensory-motor transformations in the cerebral cortex, neural stem cells in the adult brain, viral infections of the nervous system, brain-imaging studies of cognitive functions such as attention and memory in human subjects, and mathematical and computational analysis of neural network function.

The program offers a combination of courses and interdisciplinary research that meet the requirements of the molecular biology and psychology departments. Students majoring in other disciplines are also encouraged to enroll in the program. A course of study tailored to the requirements of their home department can be designed with the help of the program directors. In the past, students from a wide range of majors -- including engineering, economics, chemistry, art history, English, and music -- have successfully completed the neuroscience certificate program. Students in the neuroscience certificate program will be prepared to meet the entry requirements of graduate schools in neuroscience, as well as molecular biology or psychology. A certificate in neuroscience is awarded to students who successfully complete the program. 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 chosen their major and consulted with the program directors, who will assist them in selecting an adviser. The adviser will typically supervise the student's spring junior independent work; and for the senior thesis research.

Program of Study

Students in the Program in Neuroscience pursue a course of study built upon their departmental concentration that consists of the curriculum listed below, plus junior and senior independent work in neuroscience. Program courses may not be taken Pass/D/Fail.

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

Prerequisites:

One year of calculus: MAT 102 and MAT 104, or MAT 103 and MAT 104
One semester of statistics in any department can be substituted for a semester of calculus
Higher math can also be substituted for calculus: MAT 201, 202, 203, or 204
Advanced placement credit for math is assessed according to the standards of the Math Department

Neuroscience Requirements:

NEU/PSY 258 Fundamentals of Neuroscience
NEU/PSY 259 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience

In addition to these core courses, all students are expected to take at least three neuroscience electives. Students should consult the neuroscience certificate website for the list of neuroscience electives. In recognition that neuroscience is an interdisciplinary program whose excitement lies in new and changing areas at the interface of biology, psychology, and other related disciplines, alternative programs of study may be arranged at the discretion of the program directors and the Neuroscience Curriculum Committee.

Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience. Quantitative and computational neuroscience is a special track within the certificate in neuroscience program. It is designed for undergraduates who wish to pursue a quantitative approach to the study of brain function. Students must maintain a minimum 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 schools in neuroscience, as well as molecular biology or psychology; in addition, QCN students will have acquired quantitative data analysis, modeling, and programming skills. Students pursuing the QCN track must take three courses from a restricted list instead of taking three electives.

Required:
NEU/MOL 408/PSY 404 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience

Choose One Laboratory Course:
NEU 501B Neuroscience: From Molecules to Systems to Behavior
NEU 502B Neuroscience: From Molecules to Systems to Behavior

Choose One Computational Neuroscience Course:
NEU/MOL 437 Computational Neuroscience
NEU/PSY 330 Introduction to Connectionist Models: Bridging between Brain and Mind
PSY/NEU 338 Animal learning and decision making - psychological, computational and neural perspectives
MAT 323 - Topics in Mathematical Modeling - Mathematical Neuroscience
PSY/NEU 422 - Dynamics in Cognition

Junior and Senior Independent Research. Requirements for junior independent work are determined by each student's home department. A senior thesis in neuroscience is an important component of the neuroscience certificate program and is supervised by a faculty member affiliated with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. For students concentrating in departments that make it impossible to do senior thesis research that fulfills both departmental and certificate program expectations, an additional research report will be required. This report must be co-advised by a faculty member affiliated with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. For all students, independent research topics can be laboratory or theoretical research projects, and must be approved in advance by the program directors, in consultation with faculty advisers.

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/STC 102)   STL

Acquaints 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. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. S. Wang, A. Gelperin

NEU 258 Fundamentals of Neuroscience (also PSY 258)   Fall STN

This is a survey course on neuroscience, focusing mainly on sensory and motor processing in the primate brain. How does information from the outside world get into the brain, what neuronal pathways does it follow, how is it processed and used to construct an internal model of three-dimensional reality, and how does the brain choose and coordinate the correct behavioral response? M. Graziano

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 STL

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)   Spring STL

A fundamental goal of cognitive neuroscience is to understand how psychological functions such as attention, memory, language, and decision making 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 403 Neurogenetics of Behavior (also MOL 403)   Spring

How do seemingly simple organisms generate complex behaviors? This course will explore our current understanding of the genetic and neural basis for animal behavior, with an emphasis on cutting-edge research and model systems that are amenable to genetic manipulation. Each week we will discuss a new behavior with a focus on the underlying mechanisms; students will also lead discussions of primary literature. The goal of this course is to provide required background, knowledge, and critical thinking skills to move beyond the published literature to proposing original experiments. This effort will culminate in a final paper from each student. M. Murthy, C. Murphy

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

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. T. Buschman, I. Witten

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

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

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: MOL 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