Neuroscience (NEUR)

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 and 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 as volunteers in research with faculty 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.

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience

The Bachelor of Science major in Neuroscience requires 18 courses. Introductory and intermediate courses are in several thematic clusters, including foundations in psychology and biology, behavioral and cognitive sciences, quantitative analysis, and allied lab sciences. Four advanced electives are chosen from a specified list of advanced neuroscience courses that build on this foundation.

Program Requirements
Introduction to Psychology
Introduction to Molecules and Cells
Organismal Biology
Neuroscience Core2
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Behavioral Neuroscience
Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences2
Select two of the following:
Human Cognition
Developmental Psychobiology
Sensation and Perception
Calculus I
Statistics I
Psychological Statistics
Cognate Lab Sciences4
Principles of Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry I
Classical and Modern Physics I
and Classical and Modern Physics II
Advanced Neuroscience Electives4
Choose four advanced electives. 1,2
Developmental Psychopathology
Biopsychology of Appetite and Obesity
Researching Behavioral Neuroscience
Topics in Neuroscience
Clinical Neuroscience
Developmental Neurobiology
Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience
Developmental Brain Research
Behavioral Pharmacology
Honors Thesis
Receptors of Biological Membranes
Social Neuroscience
Undergraduate Research
Principles of Physiology
Neural Signals and Systems
Biochemistry I
Language and the Brain
Advanced Topics in Psycholinguistics
Advanced Methods Developmental Psychobiology
Advanced Methods in Biopsychology
Advanced Methods in Sensation and Perception
Advanced Methods in Learning
Advanced Methods in Human Cognition
Cognitive Aging
Advanced Psychological Statistics
Psychology of Music
Cognitive Neuroscience
Face Perception

Students need not choose any specific course of study or concentration within neuroscience. However, students with interests in particular aspects of the field of neuroscience are encouraged to consult with program faculty and their academic adviser to select courses that match their interests and goals.

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

First Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
BIOL 2051BIOL 2061
PSYC 10011CHEM 2111
CHEM 2051Behavioral/Cognitive Science cluster21
 3 3
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
NEUR 2531NEUR 2541
BIOL 2071MATH 2161
 2 2
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
PHYS 21141PHYS 2121
MATH 2011Advanced Neuroscience elective51
Behavioral/Cognitive Science Cluster21 
 3 2
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
Advanced Neuroscience elective51Advanced Neuroscience elective51
 Advanced Neuroscience elective51
 1 2
Total Credits: 18

Writing in the Major

Neuroscience students will satisfy the requirement of writing in the major by completing BIOL 205 and BIOL 206. These foundational courses include direct instruction in writing skills and assigned readings from a text on scientific writing. Students complete multiple drafts of scientific lab reports using feedback on preliminary drafts, and have opportunities to discuss their writing during the revision process. Students may further develop writing skills in the discipline by selecting advanced courses that include additional writing instruction. All of the advanced electives, PSYC 286, PSYC 290, PSYC 292, PSYC 293, and PSYC 294, include a focus on writing scientific reports, and most of the 300-level courses include a substantial writing component.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad in conjunction with the major or to explore interests
outside the major, or both. Students who are considering studying abroad should consult with
their academic adviser early to determine the ideal timing. With sufficient advance planning, rearrangement of the suggested course sequence can enable study abroad in either semester of the junior year or the first semester of the senior year.

Formal Presentation Experience

Students in the NEUR major will satisfy the formal presentation requirement by completing NEUR 253 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology . Other courses in the major offer further instruction 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:

ANBE/BIOL 342Neuroethology1
NEUR 248Developmental Psychobiology1
NEUR/PSYC 305Developmental Psychopathology1
NEUR 312Biopsychology of Appetite and Obesity1
NEUR/PSYC 348Behavioral Pharmacology1
PSYC 318Cognitive Aging1
PSYC 339Psychology of Music1
PSYC 349Cognitive Neuroscience1

Information Literacy

Neuroscience students will satisfy their information literacy requirement by completing BIOL 205 Introduction to Molecules and Cells and NEUR 253 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology . Students may also satisfy their information literacy requirement by completing independent research for credit (NEUR 399 Undergraduate Research or NEUR 360 Honors Thesis). In all these experiences, students receive direct instruction on gathering and assimilation of scientific literature through a variety of search mechanisms, including, for example, PubMed, Web of Science, and PSYCinfo.

Culminating Experience

The Culminating Experience in the Neuroscience major has two components. Both will be completed by all students in the major:

  1. Engaging in original scientific investigation through direct practice in the process of scientific discovery, either through independent research or in an advanced course. This portion may be satisfied by one of the options listed here:
    1. Complete a supervised research project in neuroscience or a closely related topic. The research experience can be at Bucknell or elsewhere as long as it is supervised by someone with relevant scholarly expertise. The research may be during the academic year or summer, and may be for course credit or not, as long as it satisfies these criteria set forth by the faculty: an empirical project in which the student collects and analyzes original data to test a hypothesis, and a written report or other scholarly presentation that connects the results to the existing scholarly literature. Each year, the Neuroscience program director will survey students' involvement in such projects. Students planning to complete this component away from Bucknell should consult the program director to ensure their project satisfies the requirements.
    2. Complete an advanced course that includes a research component. As one of the four advanced neuroscience electives, one course must include substantial experience with collecting and analyzing original data, and interpreting and reporting the results. These courses include PSYC 286, PSYC 290, PSYC 292, PSYC 293, PSYC 294, and select 300-level courses with a lab or research component. Each year the program director will publicize a list of courses that satisfy this requirement.
    3. Complete an Honors Thesis (NEUR 360).
  2. Engagement in the scholarly community: The Neuroscience Visiting Speaker Series is organized annually by program faculty. In conjunction with each visiting speaker, a faculty member convenes a seminar meeting with students that includes reading, discussion, and writing on the topic in preparation for the speaker’s visit. Students will complete this portion of the Culminating Experience by participating in at least four of these during the course of the senior year.

Majors in Neuroscience will:

  1. Understand the structure and function of the nervous system.
  2. Understand the neural bases of behavior from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
  3. Understand how the nervous system is manipulated, measured or modeled to understand its processes.
  4. Acquire a broad background in the natural sciences and a basic understanding of psychological principles.
  5. Understand the processes through which scientific information is derived,  evaluated, and communicated.


NEUR 100. Introduction to Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Fall Semester Only; Lecture hours:3
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.

NEUR 217. Psychopharmacology. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:4
Psychopharmacology, the study of drugs that affect behavior, begins with an appreciation for neurochemical, pharmacological and behavioral principles in order to understand actions and effects of therapeutic compounds and addictive substances, the two major categories of psychopharmacological drugs. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or BIOL 205. Crosslisted as PSYC 217.

NEUR 248. Developmental Psychobiology. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
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.

NEUR 250. Biopsychology. 1 Credit.

Offered Both Fall and Spring; Lecture hours:3
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.

NEUR 253. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. 1 Credit.

Offered Fall Semester Only; Lecture hours:3,Lab:3
A course focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive the firing and wiring of neurons. Topics of emphasis include excitable membrane physiology, synaptic transmission, plasticity and learning, and sensory transduction. The required co-requisite laboratory component provides hands-on neurophysiology experience with live animal models. Prerequisite: BIOL 205. Crosslisted as BIOL 375.

NEUR 254. Behavioral Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Spring Semester Only; Lecture hours:3
Study of the the functions of the nervous system underlying behavioral, psychological, and cognitive processes in humans and animals. This course assumes prior knowledge in the fundamentals of cellular/molecular neuroscience. Prerequisites: NEUR 253.

NEUR 305. Developmental Psychopathology. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
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 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 305 and PSYC 605.

NEUR 312. Biopsychology of Appetite and Obesity. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
Reading and discussion of scholarly research on the neural, physiological, and endocrine signals that influence the psychology of appetite, food reward, eating behavior, and obesity in humans and animal models. Prerequisite: PSYC 250 or NEUR 250 or NEUR 254. Crosslisted as PSYC 312.

NEUR 313. Researching Behavioral Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Both Fall and Spring; Lecture hours:3
Following a general orientation to behavioral genetics and pharmacology using mice, we will conduct group experiments. Each student will then develop and conduct an independent research project. Prerequisites: PSYC 215 or MATH 216 and PSYC 250 or NEUR 255 or permission of instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 313 and PSYC 613 and NEUR 613.

NEUR 319. Topics in Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3; Repeatable
Occasional seminars on selected topics of current interest in neuroscience. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor may be required depending on the course topics and only open to juniors and seniors.

NEUR 321. Neuroethics. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
Students will consider ethical, moral, legal and social implications that come from a growing ability to understand, predict, and change human behavior. In a seminar format we'll consider right and wrong use of neuroscientific knowledge in clinical settings, law and criminal justice, national defense, economics, business and education. Crosslisted as PSYC 321.

NEUR 322. Clinical Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
Through case studies, guest lectures, and review of primary literature this course will explore fundamental mechanisms that underlie diseases and disorders of the brain and central nervous system. Prerequisites: PSYC 250 or NEUR 250. Open to Biology, Neuroscience, and Psychology majors. Crosslisted as PSYC 322 and PSYC 622.

NEUR 332. Developmental Neurobiology. 1 Credit.

Offered Spring Semester Only; Lecture hours:3,Recitation:1
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 and BIOL 632.

NEUR 340. Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
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. Prerequisite: PSYC 250 or NEUR 254 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 340 and PSYC 640 and NEUR 640.

NEUR 344. Developmental Brain Research. 1 Credit.

Offered Spring Semester Only; Lecture hours:3; Repeatable
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 and PSYC 644 and NEUR 644. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

NEUR 348. Behavioral Pharmacology. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
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 NEUR 254 or BIOL 205 and permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as PSYC 348 and PSYC 648.

NEUR 360. Honors Thesis. 1 Credit.

Offered Both Fall and Spring; Lecture hours:Varies,Other:15; Repeatable
Prerequisite: permission of the department and permission of the instructor.

NEUR 363. Receptors of Biological Membranes. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3
A course focused on the receptors and channels that function in biological membranes. The primary research literature will be used to explore the molecular bases of cellular communication, neuronal connectivity, and sensory transduction. Prerequisites: BIOL 205 and either BIOL 206 or NEUR 253. Crosslisted as BIOL 363 and BIOL 663.

NEUR 368. Social Neuroscience. 1 Credit.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:3,Other:1
Study of the brain basis of social behaviors such as bonding and attachment, parental behavior, play, social cognition, and the benefits of social support. We will investigate what is known about social function in the brains of species that have evolved to be social species, including humans. Crosslisted as PSYC 368 and PSYC 668.

NEUR 399. Undergraduate Research. .5-2 Credits.

Offered Either Fall or Spring; Lecture hours:Varies,Other:Varies; Repeatable
Research on any aspect of neuroscience. Research topics may be posed by students or faculty. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

NEUR 3NT. NEUR Non-traditional Study. 1-2 Credits.

Offered Fall, Spring, Summer; Lecture hours:Varies,Other:Varies
Non-traditional study course in neuroscience. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

NEUR 400. Senior Seminar in Neuroscience. .25 Credits.

Offered Spring Semester Only; Lecture hours:1
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. Prerequisites: senior status and NEUR majors and permission of the instructor.


Director: Kevin P. Myers

Affiliated Faculty: Elizabeth A. Capaldi, David W. Evans, Judith E. Grisel, Andrea R. Halpern, Peter G. Judge, Heidi Lorimor, Elizabeth C. Marin, Aaron Mitchel, Kevin P. Myers, Jennifer Rice Stevenson, Joseph V. Tranquillo, T. Joel Wade