Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton's Neuroscience Program, operated jointly by the departments of Psychology and Biology, is to present students the opportunity to explore the fascinating, rapidly changing intersection of those disciplines — the biological basis of behavior.
Collaborative Research in Psychology I.
Collaborative research under the supervision of a faculty member. Focus on data collection and/or analysis. Three to four hours per week of lab work. Prerequisite, Permission of the instructor. Student performance will be evaluated as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. One-quarter credit per semester. May be repeated for credit, but does not count toward concentration requirements. (Same as Psychology 198.) The Department.
Statistics and Research Methods in Psychology.
The application and interpretation of descriptive and inferential statistics in the study of psychological processes. Some instruction in research design and methodological issues. Students will learn to use the statistical computer program SPSS to analyze data. Topics include the principles of hypothesis testing, t tests, analysis of variance, regression, and some non-parametric statistics. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 101. (Same as Psychology 201.) McKee (Fall); Borton and Grysman (Spring).
Introduction to the field of neuroscience from a behavioral and cognitive perspective. Survey of experimental and clinical research involving humans and non-human animals, addressing presumed neural mechanisms for cognitive, motivational and emotional states. Analysis of amnesia, aphasia, agnosias, apraxias and disconnection syndromes. Prerequisite, 101. (Same as Psychology 204.) Bejjanki (Fall) and List (Spring).
Introduction to Brain and Behavior.
Introduction to the field of neuroscience from a biological perspective. In-depth examination of fundamental concepts in neurobiology designed to introduce students to the electrophysiological, chemical and anatomical features of neurons, brain regions and brain circuits. Investigation of the neurobiological basis of behavior through exploration of topics such as neuronal communication, neuroanatomy, sensory and motor systems, learning, motivation, and behavior disorders. Prerequisite, 101 or Biology 102 or 115. (Same as Psychology 205.) Robinson.
Philosophy of Science.
Focus on the philosophical analysis of scientific knowledge, scientific method and the practice of science. Readings include classic texts in the philosophy of science as well as contemporary discussions of science as a social product and critiques of the notion of scientific objectivity. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Next offered 2016-17 (Same as Philosophy 310.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Psychology and Neuroscience of Learning.
An exploration of theoretical and methodological questions involved in the study of learning and neural plasticity. Questions covered will include: What is learning? What are the mechanisms that support neural plasticity, and how do they contribute to learning-induced changes in behavior? How does learning change across the lifespan? Laboratory exercises will include the development of original experiments to elicit and measure learning at the behavioral and neural levels, as well as the analysis of neural data. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201 and Psych/Neuro 204 or 205. Does not count toward the lab requirement in Psychology. (Same as Psychology 320.) Maximum enrollment, 20. V Bejjanki.
An exploration of theoretical and methodological questions in the study of affect, addressed through neuroscience. Questions covered will include: What is affect? What functions does affect serve and how does affect become dysfunctional in psychopathology? How does affect shape cognition? How do individuals regulate affect? Class time will be devoted to discussion of research articles. Laboratory exercises will include the development of original experiments to elicit and measure affect, as well as the analysis of neural data. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201. (Same as Psychology 327.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Study of brain processes involved in cognition, with a focus on current research designs and techniques. Class discussions will focus on primary research articles covering perception, attention, memory and language systems. Laboratory exercises will include the analysis of structural brain scans and electroencephalographic data, and the design, programming and presentation of original experiments. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201 and Psych/Neuro 204 or 205. Does not count toward the lab requirement in Psychology. (Same as Psychology 328.) Maximum enrollment, 20. List.
The primary focus of this course is on the physiological and chemical basis of behavior from a systems perspective. Topics include analysis of sensory and motor systems; motivated behaviors; stress, anxiety and mental illness; and learning and memory. Laboratory exercises introduce students to the anatomy and physiology of the mammalian central nervous system and to some of the principal techniques used in systems and behavioral neuroscience. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 204 or 205 or Biology 101 and 102, or Biology 115. Does not count toward the lab requirement in Psychology. (Same as Psychology 330 and Biology 330.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Robinson.
Nature, Nurture, and Human Behavior.
We will explore the interaction of genetic and environmental influences on complex personality traits, cognition, and behavior (e.g., substance use, psychopathology, health, aging); implications of these influences for policy and practice (e.g., genetic counseling, gene therapy); and controversies of behavioral genetics research. Potential questions to consider: Can our genes tell us if we could be a successful business owner or athlete, or if we might be vulnerable to obesity or depression? Should people with a genetic predisposition to criminal behavior be punished by the legal system? Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201 or permission of the instructor. (Same as Psychology 332.) Christ.
Contemplative Neuroscience: The Brain and the Buddha.
The Buddha proposed that we can end suffering by training the mind. This course will explore the contribution of Buddhism to psychology and neuroscience. We will ask: Can we train attention to promote resilience, compassion, and well-being? What is the core nature of self and thought? What is the relationship between the brain and consciousness? Although the course will draw upon Buddhist philosophy, we will investigate these questions from the perspective of modern neuroscience, examining empirical studies using methods such as EEG, fMRI, and single-cell electrophysiology. Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201. Next offered spring 2019. (Same as Psychology 333.)
A study of the effects of drugs on animal and human behavior. Topics include neuropharmacology, antipsychotics, analgesics, stimulants, hallucinogens, antidepressants, alcoholism, addiction, effects of drugs on society, and the implications of drug effects for neurochemical theories of behavior. Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201. (Same as Psychology 352.) Christ.
Neurobiology of Addiction.
This course is centered on understanding the neurobiology of the “addicted brain.” Strong emphasis on the neurobiological effects of drugs of abuse, including short and longer-term changes in the brain and body that occur in response to drug use and abuse. A sampling of drugs to be discussed include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, hallucinogens and alcohol. Effectiveness of various treatment strategies will also be considered. Some discussion of the social, political and philosophical aspects of addiction to drug and non-drug substances (e.g., food compulsions and pathological gambling). Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201. (Same as Psychology 355.) Robinson.
A study of the fundamental functions of eukaryotic cells. The interrelationships of cellular structure and function, the cell cycle, protein trafficking and cellular communication will be examined through the study of neurons, the basic unit of the nervous system. Additional topics will include specialized activities of neurons. Three hours class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, 115, or consent of instructor. (Same as Biology 357.) Lehman.
Exploration of AI theory and philosophy, as well as a variety of algorithms and data structures, such as heuristic strategies, logic unification, probabilistic reasoning, semantic networks and knowledge representation. Topics include application areas such as natural language understanding, computer vision, game playing, theorem proving and autonomous agents. Programming intensive. Prerequisite, 220. (Same as Computer Science 375.) Maximum enrollment, 24.
Mind and Body.
An examination of literature in philosophy of mind. Focus on questions and issues such as: What is the mind? How is it related to the body? What is its role in personal identity? How do theories of mind relate to our understanding of affective and cognitive phenomena such as the emotions, will and reason? Prerequisite, three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Taught as a seminar. (Same as Philosophy 440.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Janack.
Supervised research on a specific problem in neuroscience based on proposals submitted to the faculty in the spring of the junior year. Open to senior concentrators. The Department. .
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)