Neuroscience—An Interdepartmental Major
Professors: Beltz, Tetel (Chair)
Associate Professors: Gobes, Wiest
Assistant Professor: Wasserman
Lecturer in Neuroscience: Bauer
Senior Instructor in Neuroscience Laboratory: Quinan
Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Battat (Physics), Deveney (Psychology), Hildreth (Computer Science), Suzuki (Biological Sciences).
Neuroscience explores how the brain and nervous system function to generate behavior, emotion and cognition. Neuroscience is highly interdisciplinary, integrating biology, psychology, chemistry, physics and computer science. Exploring the complexity of the nervous system requires analyses at multiple levels. Neuroscientists investigate how genes and molecules regulate nerve cell function (cellular/molecular neuroscience), explore how neural systems produce integrated behaviors (behavioral neuroscience), seek to understand how neural substrates create mental processes and thought (cognitive neuroscience) and use mathematics and computer models to comprehend brain function (computational neuroscience). In studying how the brain and nervous system function normally, neuroscientists also hope to better understand devastating neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Course descriptions for each department—Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics, and Psychology—can be found in the course browser.
The major in neuroscience offers three areas of concentration:
- Cellular and molecular neuroscience
- Cognitive neuroscience
- Systems and computational neuroscience
Students are expected to achieve competence in two of these three areas.
The major consists of the following courses:
Five Core Courses: 1) NEUR 100; 2) NEUR 200; 3) NEUR 300; 4) BISC 110, BISC 110P, BISC 112, BISC 112Y, or BISC 116; 5) PSYC 205 or STAT 218.
Three 200-Level Courses* from at least two of the three areas of concentration:
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience: BISC 219, BISC 220, CHEM 211, CHEM 223, CHEM 227
- Cognitive Neuroscience: PSYC 215, PSYC 216, PSYC 217, PSYC 218, PHIL 215
- Systems and Computational Neuroscience: CS 232, MATH 215, PHYS 210, PHYS 216 (Class of '23 or before only), QR/STAT 260
*Note that many of these courses have specific prerequisites.
Three 300-Level Courses from at least two of the three areas of concentration, at least one of which must be a laboratory course:
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience: BISC 302+L, NEUR 305+L, NEUR 306/BISC 306, NEUR 315/BISC 315 or NEUR 315/BISC 315+L, NEUR 332
- Cognitive Neuroscience: PSYC 314R, PSYC 315R, PSYC 316, PSYC 317, PSYC 319, PSYC 321 (Class of ‘21 or before only), PSYC 328
- Systems and Computational Neuroscience: NEUR 310+L, NEUR 325+L, NEUR 335+L, CS 305, CS 332
NEUR 240, NEUR 250, NEUR 250H, NEUR 340, NEUR 350, NEUR 350H, NEUR 360, and NEUR 370 do not count toward the minimum major. To learn more about these different opportunities for research for credit, check out the Neuroscience Department research booklet.
A minimum of eight courses toward the major requirements (including one 300-level laboratory course) must be taken at Wellesley. Normally no more than three units in neuroscience taken at other institutions may be counted toward the major. The courses must be specifically approved by the Chair.
Any transfer credit request for the Neuroscience major must be pre-approved (before taking the course) by the Chair. Please read this information carefully before making a transfer request.
Senior thesis (NEUR 360/370) projects may be supervised by members of the various departments associated with the major. Students considering the senior thesis option are advised to consult with the Chair of the Department during the fall of their junior year.
Students wishing to attend graduate school in neuroscience are strongly encouraged to take CHEM 211/212, CS 112, MATH 115/116 and physics through PHYS 106 or PHYS 108.