2005-2006
UNDERGRADUATE RECORD
College of Arts and Sciences
General Information  |  Academic Information  |  Departments and Programs  |  Faculty
Course Descriptions

Program in Neuroscience

c/o Department of Psychology
P.O. Box 400400
Charlottesville, VA 22904-0400
(434) 982-4728
http://faculty.virginia.edu/neuroscience

Overview Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary study of the nervous system. In addition to focusing on basic scientific problems related to psychology, biology, and chemistry, neuroscience also forms the fundamental basis of many medical specialties, including psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery. The basic and applied nature of the field has attracted a large number of scientists during the past 25 years.

Increasingly, neuroscientists must be well trained in a variety of scientific disciplines to keep up with the rapid advances in the field. A successful neuroscientist must be trained in fields spanning from molecular neurobiology to cognitive neuroscience. The program in neuroscience is designed to provide majors with the necessary skills to master this highly-multidisciplinary scientific field.

The objectives of the major are:

  1. To provide students with a structure for coursework that assures a solid grounding in natural science and an overall familiarity with neuroscience as a discipline.
  2. To sponsor events that communicate neuroscience research and activities on grounds, as well as provide students with information on research careers. Such events include special lectures, symposiums and workshops on graduate school and career options.
  3. To foster active participation by undergraduate students in Neuroscience Graduate Program laboratories across the grounds by providing opportunities to conduct research in neuroscience laboratories in the College and in the School of Medicine.

Faculty The director of the program is David Hill, Professor of Psychology. The Program’s Advisory Committee is composed of four neuroscientists. They are the current director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and three faculty members appointed by the Chair of Psychology, the Chair of Biology, and the Chair of the Department of Neuroscience in the School of Medicine, respectively. The director and the advisory committee will select students for the major, advise majors and determine the ongoing direction of the program. The faculty primarily responsible for classroom training are neuroscientists in the Biology and Psychology departments, all of whom are also members of the Neuroscience Graduate Program. Faculty from the School of Medicine that are also members of the Neuroscience Graduate Program (in over 15 departments) will also participate in the program through teaching and through mentoring research projects.

Students The major is designed for students with a strong interest in the biology of the nervous system and a desire to conduct original research in the field with UVa neuroscientists. A maximum of 25 students will be selected for the program each year from a pool of applicants. Students will be chosen on the basis of prior academic performance and an essay explaining the student’s interest in neuroscience. The program will provide majors with a background for continued study in graduate and professional schools.

Requirements for the Major Thirty credits are required for the major in neuroscience with at least a 2.500 GPA in the major. Students are dropped from the major if they fall below a cumulative GPA of 2.500 for all designated neuroscience courses. At least two courses at the 400 or 500 level in neuroscience designated courses with at least one each from the Department of Biology and one from the Department of Psychology are required. The courses of current topics in neuroscience, research, and honors thesis do not count toward this requirement (a list of designated courses follows).

Distinguished Majors Program in Neuroscience Students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply for the Distinguished Major Program (DMP) during their sixth semester. The Program culminates in writing a thesis of empirical research done under the mentorship of a faculty member in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP). The requirements for admission to the DMP are:

  1. Satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in this record with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.400 in the student’s College and university courses;
  2. A GPA of at least 3.400 in all courses taken as part of the Neuroscience major;
  3. A brief (1-2 page) proposal of the project along with a written endorsement of the work by a faculty member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

To gain admission to the DMP, the student submits his/her cumulative and Neuroscience GPA (with transcripts) and a proposal to the Director of the DMP. The names of the primary (i.e., mentor) and secondary faculty readers and the declared graduation date must also be included. Once admitted, the student registers for three credits of NESC 497 in the first semester of their fourth year. In this course, students conduct their research under the supervision of a NGP faculty member. In the second semester, the student registers for NESC 498 to finalize his/her thesis, ending with a journal manuscript. The research project is intended to foster independent thought and develop the student’s critical ability to formulate and conduct scientific research. The date of the student’s final submission of the DMP thesis to the committee is two weeks before the last day of classes that semester. The two-member faculty committee (mentor and second reader) reports its evaluation of Distinction, High Distinction, or Highest Distinction of the thesis to the DMP Director by the first day of the exam period. The executive committee of the major then considers the thesis evaluation along with the student’s academic record to submit a final level of distinction to the College Registrar. Students also receive a letter grade for both NESC 497 and NESC 498.

For further information on entering the Distinguished Major Program in Neuroscience, contact the current DMP director, David L. Hill, 982-4728 or dh2t@virginia.edu.

Courses Related to a Major in Neuroscience Prerequisites In order to apply for the major, students must be enrolled in, or have already completed the following courses and have a C+ or better in all courses to declare the major.

  1. BIOL 201 & 202 Introductory Biology
  2. PSYC 220 Introduction to Psychobiology or BIOL 317 Introduction to Neurobiology
  3. CHEM 141 Introductory College Chemistry
  4. CHEM 142 Principles of Chemistry
  5. CHEM 141L Chemistry Laboratory
  6. CHEM 142L Chemistry Laboratory
  7. MATH 121 Applied Calculus 2 or MATH 131 Calculus 1 (MATH 131 is strongly recommended)

Note: Courses listed in (1) and (2) above also count toward the 30 required credits for the major. Course listed in (3), (4), (5) and (6) do not count toward the 30 credits. CHEM 181, 182, 181L and 182L also satisfy the requirements listed in (3) through (6).

Additional Information For more information, contact the director, David L. Hill, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 400400, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-0400; (434) 982-4728; dh2t@virginia.edu.


Course Descriptions

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NESC 395 - (3) (S)
Research in Neuroscience
Prerequisite: major in Neuroscience.
An original experimental project is undertaken in which each student is responsible for the design and operation of the experiment under the direction of a Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty member.

NESC 396 - (3) (S)
Research in Neuroscience
Prerequisite: major in Neuroscience.
An original experimental project is undertaken in which each student is responsible for the design and operation of the experiment under the direction of a Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty member.

NESC 398 - (3) (Y)
Current Topics in Neuroscience I
Prerequisite: major in Neuroscience.
Current developments in the interdisciplinary field of neurosciences will be examined, from molecular neurobiology through cognitive neuroscience. Instruction will be based on readings of original literature, presentation of original and new data from Neuroscience faculty and attendance of seminar talks as part of the Neuroscience Graduate Seminar series.

NESC 399 - (3) (Y)
Current Topics in Neuroscience II
Prerequisite: major in Neuroscience.
Current developments in the interdisciplinary field of neuroscience will be examined, from molecular neurobiology through cognitive neuroscience. Instruction will be based on readings of original literature, presentation of original and new data from Neuroscience faculty and attendance of seminar talks as part of the Neuroscience Graduate Seminar series.

NESC 497, 498 - (3) (Y)
Distinguished Majors Thesis
Prerequisite: Participant in Neuroscience DMP.
A two-semester course in which the student prepares a thesis under the supervision of a Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty member. The thesis must be based on empirical research conducted by the student.

Electives Approved for the Major

The following is a list of designated courses offered on a regular basis; however, the list is not exhaustive.

Biology

BIOL 203 - (2) (Y)
Biology Laboratory

BIOL 204 - (2) (Y)
Biology Laboratory

BIOL 301 - (3) (Y)
Genetics and Evolution

BIOL 325 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Animal Behavior

BIOL 344 - (3) (Y)
Endocrinology

BIOL 405 - (3) (Y)
Developmental Biology

BIOL 417 - (3) (Y)
Cellular Neurobiology

BIOL 419 - (3) (Y)
Biological Clocks

BIOL 427 - (3) (Y)
Animal Behavior Laboratory

BIOL 501 - (4) (Y)
Biochemistry

BIOL 517 - (4) (Y)
Molecular Genetics

Psychology

PSYC 321 - (3) (S)
Psychobiology Laboratory

PSYC 521 - (3) (IR)
Developmental Psychobiology

PSYC 525 - (3) (IR)
Hormones and Behavior

PSYC 526 - (3) (IR)
Psychobiology and Memory

PSYC 527 - (3) (IR)
Chemistry of Synaptic Transmission

PSYC 531 - (3) (IR)
Functional Neuroanatomy

PSYC 532 - (3) (IR)
Chemical Senses: Taste and Smell

PSYC 533 - (3) (IR)
Neural Networks Models of Cognition & Brain Computation

PSYC 535 - (3) (IR)
Neurochemical Systems in Learning and Memory

Neuroscience

NESC 395, 396, 495, 496 - (3) (S)
Research in Neuroscience

NESC 497 - 498 - (3) (Y)
Distinguished Majors Thesis

NESC 504 - (3) (Y)
Cognitive Neuroscience

NESC 520 - (5) (Y)
Neurobiology


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