Neurobiology

neurobiology.northwestern.edu

The Department of Neurobiology offers a major in neuroscience, the study of the nervous system from the level of individual genes and proteins that control neural activity through mechanisms that govern complex human behavior and cognition. Although traditionally associated with biology and psychology, modern neuroscience is highly interdisciplinary and integrates approaches and ideas from many other areas, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, linguistics, communication sciences, computer science, and engineering. The interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience is reflected in the neuroscience curriculum, which provides

  • A deep understanding of the structure and function of nervous systems and the mechanisms by which the brain generates behavior, as well as of the history, major ideas, and research approaches used in neuroscience
  • Knowledge and experience in an allied field to develop interdisciplinary skills for diverse careers
  • A strong foundation in principles of chemistry, mathematics, physics, and physiology, as well as practical knowledge in computer programming and statistics
  • Laboratory coursework or independent laboratory research

Students interested in neuroscience should complete the chemistry and math courses  and BIOL_SCI 201-0 Molecular Biology listed under related courses in their first year. NEUROSCI 202-0 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience is taken as early as fall of sophomore year followed by NEUROSCI 206-0 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience before taking 300-level NEUROSCI courses. Students entering prior to 2021 should refer to prior year catalogs. Neuroscience electives and allied field courses should be chosen with a faculty adviser.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the director of undergraduate studies to develop a course plan that provides exceptional preparation for graduate study in neuroscience or a related field; for medical school; and for careers in science writing and journalism, patent law, science policy, education, and outreach, and the pharmaceutical, biotech, and other industries.

Practical research experience is highly encouraged. See the department website for many for-credit research opportunities with affiliated world-class faculty.

Neurobiology faculty members also contribute to the major in biological sciences.

NEUROSCI 101-6 First-Year Seminar (1 Unit)   WCAS First-Year Seminar. Open to first-year students in Weinberg College. This course does not satisfy major requirements in Neuroscience but does serve as a Weinberg first-year seminar. There will be several writing assignments on a science-related topic. WCAS First-Year Seminar

NEUROSCI 202-0 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (1 Unit)   Introduction to principles governing nervous system function at the cellular and molecular level. May not receive credit for both NEUROSCI 202-0 and BIOL_SCI 302-0. Prerequisites: Must be a neuroscience major, and BIOL_SCI 201-0 and either CHEM 132-0 or co-enrollment in CHEM 152-0 or CHEM 172-0. Natural Sciences Distro Area

NEUROSCI 206-0 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (1 Unit)   Introduction to the organization and function of brain systems and their role in generating behavior. Prerequisite: NEUROSCI 202-0 or NEUROSCI 311-0 or BIOL_SCI 302-0. Natural Sciences Distro Area

NEUROSCI 303-0 Molecular Mechanisms of Neuropsychopharmacology (1 Unit)  

Advanced seminar focusing on molecular mechanisms and aberrations of synaptic signal transduction and drugs that target them.

Prerequisite: NEUROSCI 202-0 or NEUROSCI 311-0 or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 304-0 Developmental Neurobiology (1 Unit)  

Embryology and cellular/molecular mechanisms of nervous system development. Topics include patterning of the early embryo and nervous system, neurogenesis, neuronal differentiation and cell fate specification, axon guidance and wiring of neural circuits, and activity-, experience-, and sex-dependent neurodevelopment.

Prerequisites: BIOL_SCI 215-0 or BIOL_SCI 201-0; and NEUROSCI 202-0 or NEUROSCI 311-0 or BIOL_SCI 302-0. May not receive credit for both BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 201-0.

NEUROSCI 311-0 Biophysical Analysis of Neurons for ISP (1 Unit)  

This course provides an introduction to neurobiology from an electrophysiological perspective, with an emphasis on ion channel biophysics, quantitative electrical properties of neurons, synaptic physiology, and sensory transduction. Its goal is to provide a basis for understanding how information is encoded, transmitted, and decoded in brains, as well as offer an introduction to reading scientific literature.

Prerequisite: Open to all ISP students and available to Neuroscience Majors with permission of instructor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Neurobiology. Some facility with simple equations and graphing is suggested.

NEUROSCI 320-0 Animal Behavior (1 Unit)  

Animal behavior from the neuroscience perspective. Neurobiological bases of foraging, communication, migration, predator-prey interactions, mating, and parental care.

Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

Natural Sciences Distro Area

NEUROSCI 324-0 Neurobiology of Biological Clocks and Sleep (1 Unit)   General properties of sleep and circadian rhythms; how sleep and the circadian clock regulate a number of diverse activities at the cell, organ, and organism levels.The importance of biological rhythms and sleep for human health and disease will be covered in the course. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 or NEUROSCI 311-0 or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 325-0 Neurobiology of Stress, Adversity, and Resilience (1 Unit)   This is a writing-intensive course based on class lectures and discussion that draws from primary literature on the neurobiology of stress, stress susceptibility and resilience, to explore biological mechanisms by which adversity can influence mental health and other outcomes. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 326-0 Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (1 Unit)   This course examines how brain cells and neural circuits process experience to produce lasting changes in behavior. In depth discussion of original research findings, with a focus on the latest molecular, neural physiology, and behavioral studies. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 350-0 Advanced Neurophysiology Laboratory (1 Unit)   Learn to record electrophysiological signals (action potentials and post synaptic potentials) from living neural systems using amplifiers and recording equipment commonly found in research labs around the world. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0; and consent of instructor.

NEUROSCI 355-0 Neurogenetics of Behavior Laboratory (1 Unit)   Project-based laboratory investigating the genetic basis of behavior in a simple model system; molecular genetic techniques used in neurobiology. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 357-0 Neuroanatomy Laboratory (1 Unit)   Comparative anatomy and dissection to understand the functions of brain regions by comparing their structures across the major vertebrate classes. Includes clinical anatomy and case studies to understand the functions of brain regions by drawing connections between neurological symptoms and the localization of lesions. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 360-0 Neuroscience of Brain Disorders (1 Unit)  

Survey of brain disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases, developmental disorders, narcolepsy, and migraine. Trace progress from the laboratory to the clinic, evaluate the state of knowledge and understand future directions. Strongly recommend review of basic genetics and molecular biology.

Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

Natural Sciences Distro Area

NEUROSCI 365-0 Neurobiology of Prediction (1 Unit)   This course examines neurophysiological circuit mechanisms that allow prediction to emerge in brains of (mostly) non-human animals. Topics include probability and variance, anticipation of aversive and rewarding stimuli, temporal and spatial prediction, and how cellular-level studies inform complex questions of human prediction. Registration Requirements: Must be a neuroscience major; sophomore, junior, senior. Request for a permission number must be made to Dr. Indira Raman but will be issued by the neuroscience major.

NEUROSCI 370-0 Genetic and Circuit Analysis of Motivated Behavior (1 Unit)   Animals are programmed to behave strongly towards activities that satisfy our basic needs and enhance our chances of survival. This includes eating, drinking, sex, and social interaction. Focusing on neurobiology of eating, we will read scientific articles, learn about cutting edge experimental techniques, discuss concepts, and hone oral presentation skills. Prerequisites: NEUROSCI 202-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or NEUROSCI 311-0 and NEUROSCI 206-0; or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

NEUROSCI 377-0 Neurobiology of Sensation and Perception (1 Unit)  

Analysis of the key concepts underlying the neurobiological mechanisms of vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and pain. Neural pathways leading to perception and processing of stimuli will also be discussed.

Prerequisite: NEUROSCI 202-0 or NEUROSCI 311-0 or BIOL_SCI 302-0.

Natural Sciences Distro Area

NEUROSCI 390-0 Topics in Neuroscience (1 Unit)   Special Topics in Neuroscience. Topics to be announced. Prerequisites vary. May be repeated for credit with different topic. May be used to fulfill a Neuroscience Group B elective or serve as an Biology Allied Field course.

NEUROSCI 398-0 Senior Thesis Seminar (1 Unit)   Instruction in writing a scientific thesis, discussion of student projects, instructor and peer feedback on thesis drafts, and continued independent research. Open to seniors pursuing departmental honors. With the approval of the director of undergraduate studies.

NEUROSCI 399-0 Independent Study in Neuroscience (1 Unit)   Supervised laboratory or methods research with a faculty member. With approval of the director of undergraduate studies.