Coordinating Committee: David W. Evans, Elizabeth Marin, Kathleen Page (Director), Jennifer R. Stevenson, Eric Tillman

Affiliated Faculty: Mitchell Chernin, Elizabeth C. Evans, Judith Grisel, Andrea Halpern, Peter Judge, James Lavine, Heidi Lorimor, Kevin Myers, Marie Pizzorno, Ruth Tincoff, Joseph Tranquillo, T. Joel Wade

The program in neuroscience offers students an interdisciplinary major representing biology, psychology, animal behavior, chemistry, mathematics, biomedical engineering, and physics. The neuroscience major is intended to give students opportunities, through coursework and research experience, to study the nervous system, its development and influence on behavior (broadly defined). Our faculty are active and productive scholars who involve students in their research programs, and thus we view research experience as a key aspect to the learning process.

The neuroscience major is offered within the Bachelor of Science degree program. All students are strongly encouraged to participate in research with faculty, as volunteers in their laboratories, or through independent studies and honors theses. Faculty interests and facilities include cell and molecular wet labs, electroencephalography for studying brain activity and cognitive/affective and perceptual processes, animal behavior labs for studying behavior and development in vertebrates (we house four species of primates, as well as rats, fish, turtles, mice, prairie voles, and bats), and invertebrates (e.g., flies and honey bees). We also have facilities for studying vision, cognition, and hormones and behavior. Students who succeed in neuroscience will be well-equipped to go on to graduate study in neuroscience, biology, psychology, and medicine, as well as to work in a variety of other disciplines including fields relating to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, or medical instrumentation.

The Bachelor of Science major in neuroscience requires 17 courses (12 basic courses, plus five required 300-level courses). The students choose these five courses from a specified list of advanced neuroscience courses. One of the five can be chosen from a list of related courses as described below.  

Of the 17 total courses taken by neuroscience majors, the following 12 courses are required:

  • NEUR 100 Introduction to Neuroscience, BIOL 205 Introduction to Molecules and Cells, BIOL 207 Genetics, NEUR/PSYC 250 Biopsychology, NEUR 253 Neural Cell Biology
  • CHEM 211 Organic Chemistry I and CHEM 212 Organic Chemistry II
  • MATH 201 Calculus I
  • MATH 216 Statistics I
  • NEUR 248 Developmental Psychobiology, or PSYC 203 Learning, or PSYC 204 Human Cognition, or PSYC 252 Sensation and Perception, or BIOL 206 Organismal Biology 
  • PHYS 211 and 212 Classical and Modern Physics

Five advanced neuroscience electives must be chosen from the courses listed below with a minimum of two from Category I and two from Category II. One credit of Independent Research*, or one course from the neuroscience-related electives in the next section can also be counted as one of the five.

Category I
BIOL 320 Biology of Addiction
BIOL 324 Neurophysiology
BIOL/NEUR 332 Developmental Neurobiology
BIOL 342 Neuroethology
BMEG 441 Neural Signals and Systems
NEUR 348 Behavioral Pharmacology

Category II
PSYC 305 Developmental Psychopathology
PSYC 318 Cognitive Aging
PSYC 339 Psychology of Music
PSYC 340 Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 349 Human Neuropsychology
PSYC 352 Advanced Perception

*Only 1 credit of NEUR independent research (NEUR 399) may be counted toward one of the five required NEUR electives listed above. This is counted as lab credit course. Neuroscience-related research credit may be earned in ANBE, BIOL, CHEM, NEUR, or PSYC. See the Neuroscience Program Director for permission.  

Neuroscience-related courses

  • ANBE 391, BIOL 318, BIOL 328, BIOL 337, BMEG 300, BMEG 409, BMEG 461, CHEM 375, CHEM 376, NEUR 344, NEUR 399, PSYC 324, PSYC 329 (these courses are general neuroscience-related courses).
  • BIOL 304, BIOL 322, BIOL 327, BIOL 331, BIOL 339, BIOL 340, BIOL 347, BIOL 352, CHEM 351 (these courses reflect interests in cell and molecular neuroscience). 
  • Courses recommended but not required are: BIOL 327 Molecular Biology, CHEM 201 and 202 General Chemistry or CHEM 221 Inorganic Chemistry and CHEM 231 Analytical Chemistry, MATH 202 Calculus II. 
  • Students are encouraged to become involved in independent study research, such as NEUR 399; however, only one undergraduate research credit can be counted toward the five additional courses required for the major.

Students need not choose any specific course of study or concentration within neuroscience. However, students with interests in particular aspects of the neuroscience major may consider choosing among courses that reflect these interests, such as cognitive and behavioral neuroscience or cellular and molecular neuroscience. Students interested in pursuing such interests should consult with their adviser on how best to accomplish their goals.

The recommended sequence for the neuroscience Bachelor of Science major is as follows:

First Year

First Semester: NEUR 100, BIOL 205, MATH 201
Second Semester: PSYC 250, MATH 216

Sophomore Year

First Semester: CHEM 211, BIOL 207, NEUR 253
Second Semester: CHEM 212, NEUR 248 or PSYC 203 or PSYC 204 or PSYC 252 or BIOL 206, one 300-level advanced neuroscience elective 

Junior Year

First Semester: PHYS 211, one 300-level advanced neuroscience elective
Second Semester: PHYS 212, one 300-level advanced neuroscience elective

Senior Year

First Semester: one 300-level advanced neuroscience elective
Second Semester: one 300-level advanced neuroscience elective

We recommend that students who come to Bucknell with Advanced Placement (AP) credit in calculus begin their CHEM sequence in the first semester of the first year.

Writing in the Major

Neuroscience students will satisfy the writing in the major requirement by completing BIOL 205. In BIOL 205 students are given direct instruction by the professor and through assigned readings from a text on scientific writing. Students will submit sections of four laboratory reports describing the results and conclusions from their experiments. Students will receive feedback on preliminary drafts of each report and will be given an opportunity to discuss their drafts as they prepare their final submissions.

Formal Presentation Experience

Students in the NEUR major will satisfy the formal presentation requirement by completing NEUR 253. Other NEUR courses also offer instruction on, and assessment of, formal presentations, or leading discussions. Students who are interested in gaining further instruction on presentations might consider taking one or some of the following courses:

  • Behavioral Pharmacology (NEUR/PSYC 348)
  • Cognitive Aging (PSYC 318)
  • Developmental Neurobiology (BIOL 320)
  • Developmental Psychobiology (NEUR 248)
  • Developmental Psychopathology (NEUR/PSYC 305)
  • Language Development (PSYC 315)
  • Learning (PSYC 203)
  • Neuroethology (ANBE/BIOL 342)
  • Neurophysiology (BIOL 324)
  • Psychology of Music (PSYC 339)

Information Literacy

Neuroscience students will satisfy their information literacy requirement by completing BIOL 205 and NEUR 253. Students may also satisfy their information literacy requirement by completing an independent study (NEUR 399). Students who want their independent study credit to count toward the NEUR major should be prepared to document how their independent study addresses some aspect of neuroscience so as to warrant 300-level NEUR credit. In all these experiences students receive direct instruction on the gathering and assimilation of scientific literature through a variety of search mechanisms, including, for example, PubMed, Medline and PSYCinfo.

Culminating Experience

Neuroscience seniors will satisfy their Culminating Experience requirement through any one of the following activities:

  • Registering for Independent Research (NEUR 399 in their senior year (for a minimum of .50 credit). Students who do so will be graded on their participation and competency throughout the semester and will also be required to submit a written laboratory report based on their practical experiences. As noted above, the content of the independent study should be directly related to some aspect of neuroscience.
  • Students will have the opportunity to register for NEUR 400 - a seminar series - (.25 credit) in the spring semester of their senior year. This seminar series will require attendance at no fewer than four lectures. For example: attending lectures given by invited speakers from Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology would fulfill this requirement. Attendance will be mandatory and students will be required to submit a written summary/reaction of each lecture, which will be graded by the members of the NEUR faculty.



Introduction to Neuroscience (I or II; 3, 0)

A survey of the study of the nervous system and its structure and function, ranging from molecular analyses of neurons to electrical and other correlates of human cognition.


Developmental Psychobiology (I or II; 3, 0)

Addresses development in humans from conception through adolescence with some comparative analysis with non-humans. Emphasis on both normal and atypical cognitive, neuropsychological and neurobiological development. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or NEUR 100. Crosslisted as PSYC 248.


Biopsychology (I and II; 3, 0)

Biological bases of behavior and their relationship to motivation, learning, and perception. Prerequisite: one of the following: NEUR 100, PSYC 100, BIOL 206, ANBE 266 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 250.


Neural Cell Biology (I; 3, 0)

A core course for neuroscience focused on structure/function relationships in neural cells. Basic protein biochemistry, ion channel activity, protein receptors, cell signaling, electrical properties and response patterns will be emphasized. Recommended for sophomores. Prerequisites: BIOL 205 and PSYC 250 and permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken NEUR 249 or NEUR 251.


Developmental Psychopathology (I or II; 3, 0)

Addresses the behavioral phenotypes of a variety of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders in the context of theories and processes of normal development. Genetic and neurobiological underpinnings of disorders are discussed. Prerequisites: NEUR 248 or PSYC 248 and permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 305.


Topics in Neuroscience (I or II; R; 3, 0)

Occasional seminars on selected topics of current interest in neuroscience. Prerequisites: BIOL 205, BIOL 207 and NEUR 100, junior or senior status and permission of the instructor.


Neuroscience of Addiction (I; 3, 0)

A study of the changes in neurocircuitry and neurobiology that occur in the brain due to drugs of abuse and addiction. Prerequisites: NEUR 100 and BIOL 205.


Developmental Neurobiology (II; 3, 0)

Primary literature-based senior seminar on topics in developmental neurobiology. Prerequisites: BIOL 205, BIOL 207, and either BIOL 206 or NEUR 100, junior or senior status, and permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as BIOL 332.


Behavioral Neuroscience (I or II; 3, 0)

Advanced study of the relationship between the brain and behavior. Seminar discussion of complex problems in the field of behavior neuroscience including genetics, mood disorders, drug abuse, cognition and consciousness. Crosslisted as PSYC 340. Prerequisite: PSYC 250.


Developmental Brain Research (II; R; 3, 0)

Students learn a variety of assessment techniques in developmental neuropsychology and neuroscience (including EEG) and conduct quantitative research culminating in written and oral reports. Crosslisted as PSYC 344. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


Behavioral Pharmacology (I or II; 3, 0)

Focus on drugs that affect the nervous system, drugs of abuse, therapeutic drugs, drug action, behavioral changes as a result of long-term drug use, animal models and human studies. Prerequisites: PSYC 250 or BIOL 205 and permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 348.


Honors Thesis (I and II; R)

Prerequisite: permission of the department.


Undergraduate Research (I or II; R; 0, 6-16) Half to two courses.

Research topics may be posed by students or faculty. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


Senior Seminar in Neuroscience (II; 1, 0) Quarter course.

NEUR majors may elect to attend a lecture series in the spring semester to satisfy the Culminating Experience requirement. Students will prepare written reactions to each seminar, graded as pass/fail. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


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