Neuroscience

Program Description

The scientific community has been and continues to be fascinated by the prospect of unlocking the intricacies of the brain. Explorations in neuroscience often lead to questions about a human’s personality, emotions, senses, diseases, or even the ability to develop artificial intelligence. There are currently many more questions than answers in this area. Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that has its foundation within psychology and biology, but incorporates concepts across many disciplines such as art, music, philosophy, chemistry, physics, and math to explore how our most complex organ, the brain, works.

The Neuroscience program will provide students with a foundation in Neuroscience that will allow her to formulate questions and interpret current findings about the brain. The minor in Neuroscience is a chance for students to explore the field by integrating coursework and laboratory experiments across different disciplines.

Study Abroad

Saint Mary’s has a long history of providing quality international programs as an essential part of our educational mission—forming women leaders who will make a difference in the world. As this world becomes increasingly interdependent, the College offers an expanding range of semester, year, semester break, and summer study and service programs in a wide variety of countries, and encourages students to take advantage of them. Learn more about the various Study Abroad opportunities.

Department Chair

Don Paetkau, Program Coordinator
278 Science Hall
574-284-4684

Faculty

T. Aubele-Futch, J. Rowsell

Student Learning Outcomes

Neuroscience majors will be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with core concepts in neuroscience.
  • demonstrate in depth understanding of cellular/systems of neuroscience and behavioral/cognitive areas of neuroscience.
  • demonstrate conceptual understanding and procedural knowledge of techniques commonly used in neuroscience, while working cooperatively.
  • demonstrate an understanding of scientific methodology and experimental design. knows how to find relevant scientific literature. understands what constitutes good evidence in neuroscience. Able to read and interpret primary scientific articles.
  • communicate scientific data to peers and instructor. 
  • integrate and apply the core concepts of neuroscience to other related disciplines. 

Neuroscience Courses

NEUR 185  First-Year Seminar: I like brains  (1)  

The purpose of this course will be to provide you with a survey of concepts, principles, and theories of neuroscience, to introduce you to the breadth of the field as well as to the ways in which neuroscience can be ‘connected’ with many other fields of study. It is thus designed to help you understand this inherently interdisciplinary field. During the course of the semester we will discuss some of the sub-disciplines within neuroscience (e.g. molecular, cellular, cognitive, and behavioral points of view), research in neuroscience happening on-campus, how neuroscience relates to other disciplines (such as biology, physics, psychology, and the arts). We will also discuss the major as a whole, including course requirements, opportunities available outside of the classroom, and the different trajectories that you might pursue within the major.

NEUR 335  Developmental Neurobiology  (3)  

Developmental Neurobiology will explore the processes involved in the development of the mature nervous system that is responsible for regulating the physiology and cognition of an entire organism. We will explore how just a few cells in a zygote differentiate, migrate and connect to form a highly organized regulatory system. We will specifically study how neurons develop in an embryo including determination, targeting, cell death and the formation of connections (synapses).

NEUR 385  Neuroscience Research Seminar  (2)  

The junior seminar in Neuroscience provides an opportunity for students and faculty to examine the latest research in Neuroscience. Each student will work with the instructor to choose a primary research article and accompanying review article to formally present to her classmates. All of the presentations will fit the themes of the year, but students are encouraged to find papers that interest them and fit with their particular concentration. Each week one student will provide a ~25 minute presentation of her research article with the appropriate background material. The other students in the class, having read the research and review article prior to class, will come to class prepared to discuss and critique the research being presented. One student will be assigned as the primary reviewer to help encourage discussion. This seminar format provides students the opportunity to perform three important components of science education: the reading, the oral presentation and the critique of primary research literature. Prerequisite: BIO 235 and PSYC 234.

NEUR 485  Neuroscience-Senior Research  (3)  

This course is designed specifically for Neuroscience majors of senior standing to complete their individual senior comprehensive project. Students will have an opportunity to design, run, and analyze a research project under direct supervision of a faculty member. Students will read and analyze literature pertinent to their project and present their work in written and oral formats. Prerequisite: NEUR 385.

Four Year Plans in Neuroscience

Students who major in Neuroscience at Saint Mary’s College can choose from three different programs:

The sample Four-Year Plans are presented below.


Cognitive Science Concentration, Neuroscience, Bachelor of Arts

Sophia:  Each Sophia LO1 is represented in this schedule (designated LO1).   The Sophia courses can be taken in any order. We recommend that Neuroscience majors with a Cognitive Science concentration should complete their CTS PSYC 156/157. However, PSYC 156/157 is not required; students may take a CTS in any discipline. We recommended the W be completed in Philosophy 110W.  However, PHIL110W is not required, and students can take a W course in any discipline. The major completes two Natural Science LO1’s, a Social Science I or II depending on whether the student takes PSYC 156 or 157 and one Mathematical Arts course.  Neuroscience connections courses offer many options to complete LO1’s, LO2’s and LO3’s. 

Major: There is a lot of flexibility in when students take their required supporting courses.  For example, PSYC 324 could be taken in Fall of the Junior year or the Fall of Sophomore Year, and PSYC 364 and the Lab could be taken in the sophomore through senior years.  It is definitely possible to take the Neuroscience major/Cognitive Science concentration in the sophomore year, as there are a lot of courses to choose from within the required electives, thus giving this concentration some flexibility.

Study abroad: We recommend study abroad in the spring of sophomore year or fall of junior year.  This will allow students to be present for NEUR 385 junior seminar (spring semester).

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterCredits
Sophia Language I (4 cr) LO1
BIO 155
BIO 156
Foundations of Molecular Biology
and Foundations of Ecology and Evolution (LO1)
4
SPLL 101 (1 cr)
PSYC 156
Introduction to Psychology: Culture and Systems (CTS LO1)
or Introduction to Psychology: Science for the Citizen
3
MATH 104 Finite Mathematics (LO1) 3
Elective (1 - 3 cr)
 Credits10
Second Semester
Sophia Language II (4 cr) LO1
BIO 157
BIO 158
Foundations of Cellular Biology
and Foundations of Form and Function (LO1)
4
Sophia (3cr) LO1
NEUR 185 First-Year Seminar: I like brains 1
PHIL 110 Introductory Philosophy ( or PHIL 110W (LO1)) 3
Elective (1 - 3 cr)
 Credits8
Second Year
First Semester
PSYC 234
234L
Neuropsychology
and Neuropsychology Laboratory
4
CPSC 207 Computer Programming 3
NEUR Elective 1 ( 3 - 4 cr.) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Sophia (3cr) LO1
 Credits10
Second Semester
Sophia (3cr) LO1
NEUR Elective 2 (3 - 4 cr.) 3
BIO 235
235L
Foundations of Neuroscience
and Foundations of Neuroscience Laboratory
4
Elective (3 cr.)
Elective ( 3 cr.)
 Credits7
Third Year
First Semester
PSYC 324 Statistics in Psychology 3
NEUR Elective 3 (3 - 4 cr.) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Elective (3 cr.)
Elective (3 cr.)
 Credits6
Second Semester
NEUR 385 Neuroscience Research Seminar 2
NEUR Elective 4 (3 - 4 cr.) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
PSYC 364
364L
Cognitive Psychology
and Cognitive Psychology Laboratory
4
Elective (3 cr.)
Elective (3 cr.)
 Credits9
Fourth Year
First Semester
NEUR 485 Neuroscience-Senior Research 3
NEUR Elective 5 (3 - 4 credits) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Elective (3 cr.)
Elective (3 cr.)
 Credits6
Second Semester
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Elective one course from biology or psychology concentration that is not represented in the core(3 cr.) 3
Elective (3 cr.)
Elective (3 cr.)
Elective (3 cr.)
 Credits3
 Total Credits59

Neurobiology Concentration, Neuroscience, Bachelor of Science

Sophia:  Each Sophia LO1 is represented in this schedule (designated LO1).   The Sophia courses can be taken in any order.  Neuroscience majors with a Neurobiology concentration will complete their CTS in CHEM 111 (this may not be until the sophomore year).  Given that Calculus is recommended for the first year, it will be difficult to complete a W course in the first year.  We have recommended a W course for the fall of sophomore year, specifically Philosophy 110W, but PHIL110W is not required.  Students can take a W course in any discipline.  However, if students do not place into Calculus there is more flexibility in the schedule for taking a W in the first year.  The major completes two Natural Science LO1’s, a Social Science I or II depending on whether the student takes PSYC 156 or 157 and one Mathematical Arts course.  Neuroscience connections courses offer many options to complete LO1’s, LO2’s and LO3’s. 

Major: There is flexibility in when students take their required supporting courses.  Calculus could be taken in the first or second year.  General Chemistry could be taken in the first year or second year and Physics in the third or fourth year.  Although it is possible to begin a Neuroscience major with a Neurobiology Concentration in the sophomore year, it may be difficult to complete without a summer course.  Just as the case in the Neuropsychology Concentration, the courses are sequenced and have prerequisites, which adds to the complication of starting the major in the sophomore year.  However, if a student begins as a psychology, biology, chemistry, or physics major and switches to the Neurobiology Concentration in their sophomore year, they could likely finish without a summer course. 

Study abroad: We recommend study abroad in the spring of sophomore year or fall of junior year.  This will allow students to be present for NEUR 385 junior seminar (spring semester).  Study abroad may disrupt the math, physics and/or general chemistry sequences.  Students will need to plan accordingly and take a summer course or complete the sequence over two years instead of one.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterCredits
Sophia Language I (4 cr) LO1
MATH 131
Calculus I (LO1)
or Survey of Calculus
4
BIO 155
BIO 156
Foundations of Molecular Biology
and Foundations of Ecology and Evolution (LO1)
4
CHEM 121
121L
Principles of Chemistry I
and Principles of Chemistry I Laboratory
4
SPLL 101 (1 cr)
 Credits12
Second Semester
Sophia Language II (4 cr) LO1
MATH 132
Calculus II
or Introduction to Statistics
4
BIO 157
BIO 158
Foundations of Cellular Biology
and Foundations of Form and Function (LO1)
4
CHEM 122
122L
Principles of Chemistry II
and Principles of Chemistry II Laboratory
4
NEUR 185 First-Year Seminar: I like brains 1
 Credits13
Second Year
First Semester
PSYC 156
Introduction to Psychology: Culture and Systems (LO1)
or Introduction to Psychology: Science for the Citizen
3
BIO 221
221L
Introduction to Genetics
and Introduction to Genetics Laboratory
4
CHEM 221
221L
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry I Laboratory
4
Sophia W (4 cr)
 Credits11
Second Semester
BIO 235
235L
Foundations of Neuroscience
and Foundations of Neuroscience Laboratory
4
Neuroscience connections (3 cr) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Sophia (3cr) LO1
 Credits7
Third Year
First Semester
PSYC 234
234L
Neuropsychology
and Neuropsychology Laboratory
4
PHYS 111
111L
College Physics I: Mechanics
and College Physics I Laboratory
4
Elective A (3 cr) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Sophia (3cr) LO1
 Credits11
Second Semester
NEUR 385 Neuroscience Research Seminar 2
PHYS 112
112L
College Physics II: Waves, Temperature, and Electricity
and College Physics II Lab
4
Elective B (3 or 4 cr) 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Elective 3
 Credits12
Fourth Year
First Semester
NEUR 485 Neuroscience-Senior Research 3
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Elective (3-4 cr)
Elective (3-4 cr)
Elective (3-4 cr)
 Credits3
Second Semester
Elective (3-4 cr)
Elective (3-4 cr)
Elective (3-4 cr)
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Sophia (3cr) LO1
 Credits0
 Total Credits69

Neuropsychology Concentration, Neuroscience, Bachelor of Science

Sophia:  Each Sophia LO1 is represented in this schedule (designated LO1).   The Sophia courses can be taken in any order.  We recommend that Neuroscience majors with a Neuropsychology concentration should complete their CTS in CHEM 111 or PSYC 156/157. We recommended the W be completed in Philosophy 110W, however, PHIL110W is not required, and students can take a W course in any discipline. The major completes two Natural Science LO1’s, a Social Science I or II depending on whether the student takes PSYC 156 or 157 and one Mathematical Arts course.  Neuroscience connections courses offer many options to complete LO1’s, LO2’s and LO3’s. 

Major: There is flexibility in when students take their required supporting courses.  For example, calculus could be taken in the first or second year, general Chemistry could be taken in the first year or second year, and Physics in the third or fourth year.  Although it is possible to begin a Neuroscience major with a Neuropsychology Concentration in the sophomore year, it may be difficult to complete without a summer course.  Just as the case in biology, the courses are sequenced and have prerequisites, which adds to the complication of starting the major in the sophomore year.  However, if a student began as a psychology, biology, chemistry, or physics major and switches to Neuroscience in their sophomore year, they are likely to finish without a summer course. 

Study abroad: We recommend study abroad in the spring of sophomore year or fall of junior year.  This will allow students to be present for NEUR 385 junior seminar (spring semester).  Study abroad will likely disrupt the math, physics and/or general chemistry sequences, so students will need to plan accordingly and take a summer course or complete the sequence over two years instead of one. 

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterCredits
Sophia Language I (4cr) LO1
BIO 155
BIO 156
Foundations of Molecular Biology
and Foundations of Ecology and Evolution (LO1)
4
SPLL 101 (1 cr)
PSYC 156
Introduction to Psychology: Culture and Systems (CTS LO1)
or Introduction to Psychology: Science for the Citizen
3
MATH 131
Calculus I (LO1)
or Survey of Calculus
4
Elective (1 - 3 cr)
 Credits11
Second Semester
Sophia Language II (4cr) LO1
Sophia W (4cr)
BIO 157
BIO 158
Foundations of Cellular Biology
and Foundations of Form and Function (LO1)
4
NEUR 185 First-Year Seminar: I like brains 1
Sophia (3cr) LO1
Elective (1 - 2 cr)
 Credits5
Second Year
First Semester
PSYC 234
234L
Neuropsychology
and Neuropsychology Laboratory
4
BIO 214 Human Physiology 4
CHEM 121 Principles of Chemistry I 4
NEUR Connection (3 - 4 cr) 3
 Credits15
Second Semester
Sophia (3cr) LO1
NEUR Elective A (3 - 4 cr) 3
CHEM 122
122L
Principles of Chemistry II
and Principles of Chemistry II Laboratory
4
BIO 235
235L
Foundations of Neuroscience
and Foundations of Neuroscience Laboratory
4
Elective (3 cr)
 Credits11
Third Year
First Semester
Sophia (3 - 4 cr) LO1
PSYC 324 Statistics in Psychology 3
PHYS 111
111L
College Physics I: Mechanics
and College Physics I Laboratory
4
CHEM 221
221L
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry I Laboratory
4
Elective (3 cr)
 Credits11
Second Semester
Sophia (3 - 4 cr) LO1
NEUR 385 Neuroscience Research Seminar 2
PHYS 112
112L
College Physics II: Waves, Temperature, and Electricity
and College Physics II Lab
4
NEUR Elective B (4 cr) 3
Sophia (3 - 4 cr) LO1
 Credits9
Fourth Year
First Semester
NEUR 485 Neuroscience-Senior Research 3
NEUR Elective C (3 - 4 cr.) 3
Sophia (3 - 4 cr.) LO1
Sophia (3 - 4 cr.) LO1
Elective ( 3 cr.)
 Credits6
Second Semester
Sophia (3 cr.) LO1
Sophia (3 cr.) LO1
Elective (3 or 4 cr.)
Elective (3 or 4 cr.)
Elective (3 or 4 cr.)
 Credits0
 Total Credits68