Course Offerings - Catalog 2011-12

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Behavioral Neuroscience

Division of Science and Mathematics

Behavioral neuroscience is a multidisciplinary science that encompasses a wide variety of scientific pursuits. The field is unified around the common goal of investigating and understanding the biological basis of behavior and cognition.

Centre's behavioral neuroscience curriculum includes a strong emphasis in psychology and biology with additional courses in chemistry and mathematics. Those students interested in the cellular mechanisms of behavior are encouraged to take courses in biochemistry and molecular biology to complement their major requirements. This multidisciplinary approach provides students with a broad foundation for understanding how behavior and thought processes are governed by neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and psychopharmacology.

The course work and research experiences behavioral neuroscience majors undertake include, but are not limited to, the following topics; human and animal behavior, brain-behavior interactions, nerve cell structure and function, chemical neurotransmission, the mechanisms of sensation and perception, and the neurological and behavioral effects of both therapeutic and recreational drugs. Overall students learn how fundamental concepts and principles in these areas are related to both normal and abnormal behavior.

Centre students that earn a behavioral neuroscience degree often pursue careers that require quantitative and analytical thinking and expertise in understanding human and animal behavior. They also are well prepared to pursue advanced graduate and/or professional training in neuroscience, psychology, human and/or veterinary medicine, pharmaceutical science, and animal research.


Brian Cusato (chair), Melissa Burns-Cusato, Stephanie Fabritius, KatieAnn Skogsberg


Tayllor Vetter, Annie Wigginton

Requirements for the Major

Foundation Requirements: BIO 110, BNS 210 (or PSY 210 and an additional BNS course numbered 300 or higher), BNS 295, CHE 131 or 135, MAT 130, PSY 110 and 205;
Brain and Behavior courses (choose 3): BNS 330 or BIO 371 (not both), BNS 360, 370, 390, 450;
Psychology courses (choose 2): PSY 300, 305, 320 or 325 (not both), 370, 380;
Cell and Molecular courses (choose 2): BIO 210, BIO 305, BIO 350, BMB 210, CHE 241;
Capstone (choose 1): BNS 350 or BNS 351 or BNS 500.

NOTE: Normally, BIO 110, CHE 131 or 135, MAT 130 and PSY 110 should be completed in the first year, and PSY 205, BNS 210 and BNS 295 should be completed in the second year.

A double major with Psychology is not permitted.

Requirements for the Minor

MAT 130;
BIO 110;
PSY 110;
PSY 205;
BNS 210, or PSY 210 and an additional BNS course numbered 300 or higher;
BNS 295 or 370;
Two additional courses selected from among the following: BNS 295*, 330 or 335 (not both), 360, 370*, 390, 450.
(* if not used above)

Behavioral Neuroscience Courses

BNS 210 Research Methods in Behavioral Neuroscience (four credit hours)
A general introduction to research design and methodology employed in contemporary behaioral neuroscience. Emphasis is placed on the ethical and theoretical issues involved in conducting research with human and nonhuman subjects. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: PSY 110 and 205. Not open to students with credit for PSY 210.

BNS 250 Introduction to Research (one credit hour)
A course intended to provide first-years and sophomores with an opportunity to engage in research under the close supervision of faculty. Students gain the experience needed to successfully conduct independent research projects in BNS/PSY 350 and 351. Offered on a pass-unsatisfactory basis only. Prerequisite: By invitation.

BNS 295 Physiological Psychology (four credit hours)
An investigation of the physiologic correlates of behavior, including neuroanatomy and neurophysiology as they relate to such areas as learning, memory, perception, motivation, and cognition. Laboratory experience is required. Prerequisite: PSY 110; BIO 110 or NSC 120 is recommended.

BNS 330 Animal Behavior
An examination of behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Behavior is studied as a product and a means of adaptation to ecological conditions. Emphasis is given to predatory action; predatory defense; foraging; and social behavior which includes sex, aggression, and communication. Consideration is also given to the application of ethological principles in the study of human behavior. Prerequisite: PSY 110, and BIO 110 or NSC 120. BIO 225, BNS 210, and PSY 305 are recommended.

BNS 350 Advanced Research Topics (four credit hours)
Students meet in seminar format to discuss key problems of effective experimental research. Students also conduct a research project supervised by department faculty on an individual basis. Research projects and seminar meetings are extended over two long terms. Prerequisite: BNS 210 and permission of the instructor.

BNS 351 Advanced Research Topics
Students meet in seminar format to discuss key problems of effective experimental research. Students also conduct a research project supervised by department faculty on an individual basis. Research projects must be completed within one long term. Prerequisite: BNS 210 and permission of the instructor.

BNS 360 Drugs, Brain, and Behavior
An exploration of psychopharmacology. The course covers the use and abuse of recreational, therapeutic, and experimental psychoactive substances. The behavioral effects of these drugs are related to the nervous system and other physiological processes. Topics include addiction, tolerance, and drug interactions for a wide range of psychoactive drugs. Prerequisite: BNS 295 or 370, or permission of the instructor.

BNS 370 Sensation and Perception (four credit hours)
An examination of basic sensory and perceptual processes, including the structural and neurological bases of awareness and the role of cognitive processes in perception. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: PSY 110, and BIO 110 or NSC 120.

BNS 390 Human Neuropsychology
A comprehensive introduction to the field of neuropsychology. Topics include basic neuroanatomy, nueropsychological discorders related to memory, sensory and perceptual systems, motor movement and coordination, language and aphasia, mood and emotional discorders, and problems related to attention and executive control. Neural development, plasticity and degeneration are also discussed. Prerequisite: BIO 110, BNS 295 or 370 or permission of the instructor.

BNS 450 Research in Primate Behavior
Students define an appropriate research question and conduct systematic observations of the behavior of the Barbados green monkeys. These projects apply sampling techniques and statistical analyses common to behavioral research. Conducted in Barbados.

BNS 500 Senior Seminar
An in-depth study of current research topics in behavioral neuroscience. Students read extensively from the primary literature, critically analyze published findings and the views expressed by their peers, lead and participate in class discussions, and present their research findings on a regular basis throughout the term. Prerequisite: senior BNS or PSY major or permission of the instructor.