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Course Descriptions

  • 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.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 116
  • 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.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 118, PSYC 118
  • NEUR 130: Bio Inq: Deadly Shape Hostage Brain
    (Biological Inquiry Seminar: 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 will 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 will 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 will present the latest advances in neurological research. Additionally, students will 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. Prerequisite: BIOL 120.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 130
  • 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.
    Cross-listed as: 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.
    Cross-listed as: PHIL 291
  • NEUR 296: Philosophy of the 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?
    Cross-listed as: PHIL 296
  • 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 as: 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 as: PSYC 320
  • 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 as: BIOL 324
  • NEUR 325: Artificial Intelligence
    An introduction to AI via topics including tree and graph searches, min-max methods, alpha-beta pruning, heuristics, backtracking, natural language processing, and computer vision. Prerequisite: Computer Science 212.
    Cross-listed as: CSCI 325
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  • 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 as: PSYC 330
  • NEUR 340: Animal Physiology
    This course will focus on mechanisms of homeostasis in vertebrates and invertebrates. A particular emphasis will be placed on examining specific adaptations (functional, morphological, and behavioral) to different environmental conditions, as well as problems associated with physical size. Topics will 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. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 340
  • NEUR 342: Developmental Biology
    Analysis of the genetic, molecular, and structural changes that occur between fertilization and the development of the adult form. This course will examine many concepts including establishment of cell fates, embryonic patterning, and morphogenesis. Students will also analyze key experiments and methods that have provided an understanding of development. The laboratory will demonstrate important developmental principles, such as fertilization, gastrulation, differentiation, and morphogenesis though the use of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms. Three discussion and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, CHEM 116. (Cross listed as BIOL 342).
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 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 as: BIOL 344
  • NEUR 346: Molecular Neuroscience
    Neurobiology associated with brain function (perception, movement, homeostasis, affect, and cognition), neurological and psychiatric illnesses, and brain injury. A reading- and writing-intensive course with a problem-based learning approach that comprehensively explores the breadth of neurobiology (molecular, cellular, anatomical, physiological, behavioral, and medical). Laboratory exercises emphasize neuroanatomy and neuronal cell biology. Several experimental projects complement lecture and laboratory learning. Six hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, CHEM 116.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 346L
  • NEUR 350: Abnormal Psychology
    Intended to acquaint students with the biological, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive foundations of psychopathology. Issues of classification, description, etiology, and treatment of abnormal behavior are examined from the point of view of contemporary empirically based perspectives. Specifically, these issues are considered in the context of a variety of psychopathological manifestations, including anxiety, eating, schizophrenic, mood, personality, addictive, and sexual disorders. Prerequisite: Psychology 221 with a grade of at least C-.
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 350
  • NEUR 352: Molecular Genetics
    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, use of model organisms in the study of human disease, genetic engineering and gene therapy, and principles of genome science. Laboratory will apply current molecular techniques to an original research problem. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 352
  • NEUR 354: The Mind Onstage
    (The Mind Onstage: Theatre and Cognition.) 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 will read the work of scholars such as Rhonda Blair and Rick Kemp, in addition to creating their own performances, as we explore the ways science and the humanities can intersect. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: THTR 354
  • 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 as: 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.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 362
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  • NEUR 370: Neuroscience and Behavior
    How do the brain's neurons, synapses, and electrical and chemical activities participate in psychological processes? What are the neural foundations of human perception, motivation and emotion, learning, memory, movement, and consciousness? Discussion of the modes of action of antidepressants, other psychotherapeutic drugs, and drugs of abuse. In what ways are functions localized in the brain, and how is it possible for recovery from brain damage to take place? Laboratory sessions include experiments in brain foundations of sensation, movement, emotion, and learning in animals, demonstration of human brain waves, comparison of brains with computers, and basic exercises in computerized data acquisition and analysis. Prerequisite: a college course in mathematics or natural science approved by the instructor (such as the core introductory courses in biology or chemistry) or PSYC 221 with a grade of at least C-.
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 370L
  • 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 as: BIOL 372, PSYC 372
  • 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 as: 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 as: BIOL 389
  • 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?s 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 as: PSYC 420
  • NEUR 450: Health Psychology
    This course explores a variety of research and clinical issues in health psychology. Representative topics include the role of behavior in health and disease, the neurobiology of emotion, the major stress-related and behavior-related disorders (e.g., coronary heart disease, cancer, headaches, AIDS), prevention strategies, and psychologically based treatment approaches. Our primary focus will be a methodological and conceptual analysis of the health psychology literature, which we will consider from a scientific perspective. An understanding of these issues, however, should help you become a more critical consumer of health information and health advice offered by the media, and may inspire you to make positive changes in your own health-related behavior and lifestyle. Prerequisite: Psychology 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 as: PSYC 450
  • 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.
    Cross-listed as: 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. This will involve intensive library research, report writing, and student led discussions and presentations. Two 80-minute meetings per week. 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 as: 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 as: BIOL 482
  • NEUR 485: Senior Seminar: 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 and neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 485
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  • NEUR 488: Sr Sem: Cellular Basis of Disease
    (Senior Seminar: Cellular Basis of Disease) A study of the cellular and molecular basis of infectious diseases and their treatments, including viral and acterial agents, through intensive library research, report writing, and student presentations. 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 as: BIOL 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 as: BIOL 489
  • NEUR 493: Research Project
    Research in collaboration with a departmental faculty member. Consult with any member of the department for application information.
  • 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.