Behavioral Neuroscience

Major

The interdisciplinary Behavioral Neuroscience program explores the complex and intriguing relationship between the brain and behavior leading to a wide range of career paths. The curriculum covers neurobiology and the neural correlates of behavior, sensation and perception, cognition, animal behavior, genetics, and development grounded in the disciplines of psychology and biology. Emphasis is placed on biological and psychological research techniques.

Student and Instructor looking into a microscope

Program Locations

Available Majors

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Available Minors

  • N/A

Additional Study Options

Specialized advising can help prepare you for competitive admissions to graduate and professional programs:

Courses

  • Fundamentals of Biology: BIO-111 (4 credits)

    Focuses on the structure and function of the fundamental unit of life, the cell. Examines basic biological molecules, membrane structure and function, basic metabolism, photosynthesis, cellular reproduction, evolution, genetics and introductory systematics. In weekly laboratory exercises, students design and conduct experiments to answer scenario-based questions. Includes independent small-group laboratory research project that culminates in a student research symposium. Three hours lecture and four hours laboratory. Designed for students with a strong high school background in biology, chemistry and mathematics. Prerequisite: MSAT greater than department-designated value or BIO-110 with minimum grade of C+, or permission of chair. Fulfills general education requirement in natural sciences. [4 credits]
  • Unity and Diversity of Life: BIO-230 (4 credits)

    Focuses on the unity of biological processes common to plants, animals and fungi, such as transport, gas exchange, and reproduction; also focuses on the diversity of organisms in their adaptation to environmental challenges. Unity and diversity are studied in both ecological and evolutionary contexts. An independent small-group research project is completed in the laboratory and culminates in a student research symposium. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory. Prerequisite: BIO-111 with minimum grade of C or permission of the instructor. [ 4 credits ]
  • Genetics: BIO-239 (4 credits)

    Considers the mechanisms by which biological information is stored, accessed, and passed on from one generation to the next from both Mendelian and molecular genetic perspectives. Introduces basic techniques of molecular biology such as bacterial transformations, gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing and sequencing analysis. Includes the use of online databases such as Pub Med and sequence analysis tools such as BLAST. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory. Prerequisites: BIO-111 and CHM-110, each with a minimum grade of C or permission of instructor. [ 4 credits ] Honors section meets concurrently with and considers the same subject matter as BIO-239 (non-Honors). Honors students meet for an extra hour per week to concentrate on the historical and social aspects of genetics. Four hours lecture and three hours laboratory.
  • Vertebrate Anatomy: BIO-341 (4 credits)

    Surveys the biodiversity of extant and extinct vertebrates and examines anatomical design and function in fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. An emphasis is placed on evolutionary trends of adaptation by different taxa to various environments. Laboratory exercises involve examination of commercially prepared specimens to develop the skills for dissection. Typically incorporates field trips to sites such as the National Museum of Natural History and American Museum of Natural History. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory. Prerequisite: BIO-230 Unity and Diversity of Life with a minimum grade of C or permission of the instructor. [ 4 credits ]

  • Neurobiology: BIO-413 (4 credits)

    Focuses on the mechanisms by which neural systems control animal behavior. Integrates neural function with underlying biochemistry, cell biology and organ physiology. The laboratory places strong emphasis on data acquisition from electrophysiological hardware and data analysis from computer software. Includes small group research in which each group independently designs, implements, analyzes and presents a semester-long research project in the context of a simulated symposium. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory. Prerequisites: PSY-223 or BIO-341 Vertebrate Anatomy, CHM-210 each with a minimum grade of C or permission of instructor. [ 4 credits ]
  • General Chemistry I: CHM-110 (4 credits)

    Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Guided inquiry methods are used to explore descriptive and quantitative aspects of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, states of matter, solutions, basic thermodynamics, electrochemistry, equilibrium, acids and bases, and kinetics. Laboratory is coordinated with lecture and emphasizes basic techniques such as titration, spectroscopy, and quantitative and qualitative analysis, along with inorganic synthesis and calculator-based experiments. Three lectures, one discussion period and one laboratory each week. High school algebra strongly recommended. Satisfies the general education requirement in natural science. [4 credits]
  • General Chemistry II: CHM-111 (4 credits)

    Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Guided inquiry methods are used to explore descriptive and quantitative aspects of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, states of matter, solutions, basic thermodynamics, electrochemistry, equilibrium, acids and bases, and kinetics. Laboratory is coordinated with lecture and emphasizes basic techniques such as titration, spectroscopy, and quantitative and qualitative analysis, along with inorganic synthesis and calculator-based experiments. Three lectures, one discussion period and one laboratory each week. High school algebra strongly recommended. Prerequisites: CHM-110 with a minimum grade of C or permission of chair. Permission of the instructor is required to enroll in CHM-111 if the prerequisite CHM-110 was not fulfilled at Notre Dame. [ 4 credits ]
  • Organic Chemistry I: CHM-210 (4 credits)

    Focuses on functional group classification, nomenclature, synthesis, reactions, and spectroscopic analysis with a strong emphasis on reaction mechanisms of organic compounds. Laboratory is coordinated with lecture material and stresses basic techniques such as distillation, recrystallization, extraction, and chromatography, along with organic synthesis using both macroscale and microscale applications. Laboratory also includes an introduction to organic structure determination using a variety of spectral methods, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Three lectures, one discussion and one laboratory period per week. Prerequisites: CHM-110, 111. [4 credits]
  • Discrete Mathematics: MAT-110 (3 credits)

    Introduces topics that find their applications in the field of computers and computing. Topics include: logic, proof, graphs, trees and counting techniques. This course is designed for mathematics majors, computer studies majors and students with a particular interest in mathematics.  [3 credits]

  • Basic Statistics: MAT-215 (3 credits)

    Introduces the basic ideas of statistics: descriptive statistics, central tendency variability, probability distributions, sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, correlation and regression, multinomial experiments, contingency tables and analysis of variance. A statistical software package is used. Designed for students in a variety of fields that rely on regular statistical analysis in decision-making. Fulfills general education requirement in mathematics. Prerequisite: A strong algebraic background (as evidenced by placement test) or successful completion of MAT 100 or MAT 103 is recommended. [3 credits]

  • Introduction to Philosophy: PHL-201 (3 credits)

    Studies some of the major issues that have intrigued reflective people from time immemorial: How do we know? What is human nature? Is there life after death? Where did the universe originate? We will evaluate replies suggested from the time of Plato to the 20th century. Fulfills general education requirement for 200-level course. [ 3 credits ]
  • General Physics I: PHY-101 (4 credits)

    Studies the fundamental physical laws of nature and their use in understanding natural phenomena. Course provides a knowledge base for study in all areas of science and mathematics. Topics include kinematics, dynamics of motion, Newton's laws, rotational mechanics and conservation of energy and momentum. Development of the concepts of vector algebra and calculus are provided as needed. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory weekly. Fulfills general education requirement in natural science. [4 credits]

  • Introductory Psychology: PSY-101 (4 credits)

    Examines psychology's perspective on human behavior through many human experiences: learning and memory, perception, motivation and emotion, personality, social interaction, normal and abnormal behavior, and human development. Draws from experience and fosters application to the students' own lives. This is a foundational course, and it meets prerequisite requirements for most psychology courses. Fulfills general education requirement in social science. Lecture and lab. [4 credits]
  • Research Methods: PSY-210 (4 credits)

    Introduces the basic methods of research design and report writing in the behavioral sciences. Descriptive, correlational and experimental research strategies will be discussed. Students design original research and select appropriate data analyses. Ethical issues in each type of research design will be explored. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisites: MAT-215 and PSY-101. [4 credits]
  • Cognition: PSY-212 (3 credits)

    Investigates the nature of thinking, including attention, perceptual organization, memory, imagery, concept formation, problem solving and language. Emphasis is placed on both research and practical applications of the decision-making process, strategies for problem solving and the facilitation of memory. Prerequisite: PSY-101. [3 credits]
  • Introduction to Neuroscience: PSY-220 (3 credits)

    This course is an introduction to the human nervous system exploring bio-behavioral relationships of the brain, mind, and behavior from a multidisciplinary perspective. Topics will include the sturcture and function of the nervous system, sensory and motor functioning, cognition, motivation, emotion, consciousness, neuroplasti- city, behavioral genetics and nervous system disorders. Prerequisites: BIO-111 or PSY-101. [ 3 credits ]
  • Biopsychology: PSY-223 (3 credits)

    Presents a current understanding of the brain and its relationship to the behaviors of species from simple organisms to humans. Content includes the study of the anatomy and function of neural systems and their relationship to major disorders of the central nervous system. Contemporary techniques of neural investigation are included. The relationship between biopsychology and other content areas within psychology such as cognitive processes, human development, clinical psychology, learning, motivation and perception are high-lighted. Prerequisites: PSY-101, BIO-111 with a minimum grade of C.
  • Sensation and Perception: PSY-323 (4 credits)

    Investigates the structure and function of sensory receptors and the organization of sensory input for the basic senses of vision, audition, taste, smell and touch. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSY-210. [4 credits]
  • Learning and Motivation: PSY-325 (4 credits)

    Develops knowledge and research skills in learning and the experimental analysis of behavior in both animals and humans. Covers theoretical issues, basic principles and experimental procedures. Emphasizes biological explanatory mechanisms. Practical applications of basic principles are considered. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSY-210. [4 credits]
  • Quantitative Methods: PSY-340 (4 credits)

    Builds on the content of Research Methods I (PSY-210) to provide hands-on research and data analysis experience using more advanced techniques. Explores multivariate research designs and analysis including multifactor analysis of variance, multiple regression, factor analysis and selected non-parametric techniques. Students design and conduct a research project, write an APA research report, create a poster presentation and use professional statistical analysis software. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSY-210. [4 credits]
  • History and Systems of Psychology: PSY-420 (3 credits)

    Considers, through an analytical approach, the history and development of the ideas that shaped psychology as a scientific discipline. Seminar- style deliberation concerning development of the foundational ideas of the field of psychology. Examines how the system of psychology is presently structured. Specific attention is given to the role of women in the development of psychology. Reading of original material from basic theorists in the field is required. Prerequisite: Status as senior psychology major or minor. [3 credits]
  • Practicum I: PSY-461 (4 credits)

    Provides opportunities for field experience for qualified students under professional supervision. Allows for consultative meeting with practicum coordinator concerning career goals and aspirations, which then determine the nature of a placement most consistent with student abilities and interests. Offers students an additional opportunity for advanced training and increased levels of professional responsibility through Practicum II. Requires students to meet academic and background requirements for chosen placement and to attend an academic seminar in addition to fieldwork. Prerequisite: junior psychology major status and conference with coordinator. Not open to liberal arts majors or psychology minors. Prerequisites: Technical Standards as evaluated by the department. Cannot retake if student receives a failing grade. [4 credits] Students will not be permitted to repeat PSY 461 or PSY 462 if they receive a failing grade (D or F) or are removed from their practicum site due to an ethical violation. Ethical violations are defined by the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Ethical violations may include plagiarism. The practicum requirement cannot be waived or completed through another institution.
  • Independent Research/Independent Study: PSY-463 (3 credits)

    Independent study of a topic and development of a project of a student's choice. Includes directed readings, literature review and clinical study or data collection and analysis. Mentored and supervised by a faculty member of the department. Each student completes a major research paper and oral presentation. Prerequisites: PSY-210, PSY-340 and acceptance for supervision by a department member. [3 credits]

Four-Year Plan

The behavioral neuroscience program provides a core of biology, chemistry, psychology and neuroscience courses.

Below is a sample program of study for the behavioral neuroscience major. Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor. Careful attention to course sequencing is required since courses are offered on rotating years and to ensure that prerequisites are taken.

Fall Spring
First Year

IDS-100 Perspectives on Education

3

General Education/Electives

6

PSY-101 Introduction to Psychology

4

BIO-239 Genetics

4

BIO-111 Fund of Biology

4

CHM-111 General Chemistry II

4

CHM-110 General Chemistry I

4

MAT-215 Basic Statistics

3

[15 credits]

 

[17 credits]

 
Second Year

PSY-210 Research Methods

4

PSY-340 Quantitative Methods

4

BIO-230 Unity & Diversity of Life

4

PSY-325 Learning & Motivation

4

CHM-210 Organic Chemistry I

4

PSY-223 Biopsychology

3

PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy

3

PHY-101 General Physics

3

PSY-212 Cognition

3

   

[18 credits]

 

[14 credits]

 
Third Year

BIO-341 Vertebrate Anatomy

4

   

MAT-110 Discrete Mathematics

4

   

PSY-220 Introduction to Neuroscience

3

PSY-323 Sensaation & Perception

4

BIO-413 Neurobiology

4

PSY-461 Practicum or PSY-463 

Independent Research

4

General Education/Electives

3

General Education/Electives

3

[18 credits]

 

[15 credits]

 
Fourth Year

PSY-420 History & Sysems of Psychology

3

MAT-243 Linear Algebra

3

General Education/Electives

12

General Education/Electives

12

[15 credits]

 

[15 credits]

 

Note: Students interested in medical school should take Organic Chemistry II, Physics 102, and Calculus I and II.

What to Expect Studying at Notre Dame of Maryland University

Rigorous interdisciplinary coursework provides a strong foundation in core concepts while laboratory courses, original research projects, service-learning, and a practicum offer extensive opportunities for applied learning.

Program Goals

The APA psychology curriculum goals are to:

  1. Develop a strong knowledge base in the discipline.
  2. Develop discipline specific professional skills including writing, oral presentation, critical thinking, research design and statistics.
  3. Know and apply a professional ethical code by articulating and applying the relevant ethical principles.
  4. Prepare for entry-level career placement or graduate school.
  5. Contribute to the well-being of self and others (generativity).

Research & Internship Opportunities

One of the hallmarks of our rich educational environment is the opportunity to participate in research.

Nancy Kreiter Student Research Day provides the perfect forum to showcase your hard work with a formal research presentation to the Notre Dame community.

Field Experience

In your junior or senior year, you will integrate the two areas in your practicum, a field experience designed to fit your specific interest.

Examples of Internships

Behavioral Neuroscience Careers

The behavioral neuroscience major prepares the student for masters or doctoral graduate work in the growing field of neuroscience or immediate entry into a career as a research technician.

Potential Graduate Programs

  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Cognitive Science

Examples of Job Titles

  • Researcher
  • Research Lab Head
  • Physician (MD or DO)
  • Professor
  • Neurologist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • High School Science Teacher
  • Dean
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • MRI Technician