All NSB Courses
NSBV BC1001 Introduction to Neuroscience (members of NSB faculty). This course is required for all the other courses offered in Neuroscience and Behavior. The course introduces students to the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. The topics include the biological structure of the nervous system and its different cell types, the basis of the action potential, principles of neurotransmission, neuronal basis of behavior, sleep/wake cycles, and basic aspects of clinical neuroscience.
NSBV BC2001 Laboratory in Neuroscience (members of NSB faculty). This course provides a hands-on introduction to techniques commonly used in current neurobiological research. Topics covered will include neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and invertebrate animal behavioral genetics. Participation in this course involves dissection of sheep brains and experimentation with invertebrate animals.
NSBV BC2002 Statistics and Experimental Design (J. Glendinning). This course is for students interested in learning how to conduct scientific research. They will learn how to (i) design well-controlled experiments and identify “quack” science; (ii) organize, summarize and illustrate data, (iii) analyze different types of data; and (iv) interpret the results of statistical tests.
NSBV BC2003 Neuroendocrinology of Stress (R. Russell). This lecture course explores factors that modulate stress reactivity and the impact of stress on the structure and function of the nervous system and behavior. Specifically, topics will include how developmental stage, sex/gender, time of day, and experience influence how an organism responds to stress at endocrinological, neurobiological, and behavioral levels. Note: Students who take this course cannot get credit for NSBV BC3392 (Psychobiology of Stress) or GU4493 Stress and the Brain.
NSBV BC2004 Fundamentals in Computational Neuroscience Models (G. Gutierrez). Computational neuroscience is an exciting, constantly evolving subfield in neuroscience that brings together theories and ideas from many different areas in STEM such as physics, chemistry, math, computer science, and psychology. Through the exploration of computational models of neuronal and neural network activity, students will be introduced to a handful of quantitative STEM concepts that intersect with neuroscience. Before beginning this course students are expected to know about the action potential and synaptic transmission (see prerequisites). In this course, we will connect those biological phenomena to quantitative STEM concepts and then to computational models in Matlab. This course is designed for Neuroscience and Biology majors who want to take their first steps towards mathematical and computational models of the brain. Students interested in the computational track for the Neuroscience major should consider taking this course. By the end of this course students will be able to:
● Identify the scope of a neuroscience model and determine what it can and cannot tell us.
● Compare models and select an appropriate model for a given scientific question from among the models covered in this course.
● Make connections from the action potential and synaptic transmission to quantitative concepts from other STEM disciplines.
● Design, construct, and implement computational neuroscience models of neurons and neural networks using Matlab.
NSBV BC2005 Flavor Perception and the Human Diet (J. Glendinning), This course will provide an introduction to how humans decide what foods to include in their diet. First, we will examine the sensory systems that evaluate food—vision, olfaction, taste, olfaction, somatosensation and intestinal chemosensation. Second, we will study how the brain integrates inputs from these sensory systems to create flavor perceptions. Third, we will consider what is known about the evolution of the human flavor system. Fourth, we will examine the development of food processing and preparation techniques. Fifth, we will examine the diet of extant hunter-gatherer societies. Sixth, we will investigate how genetics and environment factors (e.g., early dietary experience, nutritional status and culture) interact to shape diet. Finally, we will investigate the functional consequences of the human flavor system to nutrition, health and the future of food.
NSBV BC2006 Disorders of the Mind and the Brain (L. Iemi). This course explores how neural processes giving rise to the mind can become disordered, resulting in devastating mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, dementia, and autism. Students will review genetic, structural and functional research findings showing changes in the brain associated with psychiatric, neurological, and neurodevelopmental disorders. This course will cover the empirical and theoretical accounts of the biological mechanisms that underlie mental illness. Throughout the course, students will gain exposure to genetic, neuroimaging, and behavioral methods commonly used to study brain function and cognition in clinical populations. By studying how changes in the brain result in cognitive dysfunction and mental illness, students will deepen their understanding of the biological foundations of human thought, emotion, memory, and social behavior.
NSBV BC2008 Adaptive and Arrested Development of the Adolescent Brain (BJ Casey). The teen brain has received a lot of media coverage with advances in brain imaging techniques that provide a voyeuristic opportunity for us to look under the hood of the behaving adolescent brain. This course will cover empirical and theoretical accounts of adolescent-specific changes in brain and behavior that relate to the development of self control. These accounts of adolescent brain and behavior will then be discussed in the context of relevant legal, social and health policy issues. Lectures and discussion will address: Under what circumstances self control appears to be diminished in adolescents. How do dynamic changes in neural circuitry help to explain changes in self control across development? When does the capacity for self control fully mature? Are these changes observed in other species? How might these changes be evolutionarily adaptive and when are they maladaptive? How might understanding adolescent brain and behavioral development inform interventions and treatments for maladaptive behavior or inform policy for changing the environment to protect youth?
NSBV BC2154 Hormones and Behavior (K. Pham). This class explores the complex interactions among genetics, hormones, environment, experience, and behavior. Topics covered include the endocrine system, sexual development, reproductive behavior, and social interactions such as affiliation, aggression, parenting, as well as homeostasis, biological rhythms, stress, memory, and mood.
PSYC BC2107 Psychology of Learning (P. Balsam). Lecture course covering the basic methods, results, and theory in the study of how experience affects behavior. The roles of early exposure, habitation, sensitization, conditioning, imitation, and memory in the acquisition and performance of behavior are studied.
NSBV BC3001 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (R Romeo). This course provides an in-depth examination of the physiological bases of behavior and the development, organization, and function of the nervous system. Specific topics include methods used in behavioral neuroscience, development of the nervous system, sensory and motor systems, homeostasis, sexual differentiation, biological rythms, stress, learning and memory, psychopathology, and neurological disorders.
NSBV BC3105 Neuroimmunology (K. Pham). This seminar class will explore the interactions between the nervous and immune systems. Because immunology is not a common undergraduate course, we will start the semester with an overview of immunology foundations: the cells, chemicals, and organs of the immune system, immunological communication and memory, and the innate and adaptive response systems. We will then read scientific journal articles to understand how the immune system modulates development and function of the nervous system, how homeostasis between the brain and the immune system is maintained, and how immunological response to infection and injury can result in neuropathology. We will conclude with an examination of how disseminated tumor cells can breach the blood-brain barrier to seed metastatic brain cancer.
NSBV BC3361 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (A. Zadina). This upper-level lecture course provides an in-depth analysis of neuroscience at the molecular and cellular levels. Topics include: the structure and function of neuronal membranes, the ionic basis of the membrane potential and action potential, synaptic transmission and sensory transduction.
BIOL BC3362 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (E. Bauer). Structure and function of neural membranes; ionic basis of membrane potential and action potential; synaptic transmission and neurochemistry; sensory transduction and processing; reflexes and spinal cord physiology; muscle structure and function; neuronal circuitry; and nervous system development.
NSBV BC3376 Psychobiology of Infant Development (W. Feifer). Analysis of human development during the fetal period and early infancy. Review of effects of environmental factors on perinatal perceptual, cognitive, sensory-motor, and neurobehavioral capacities, with emphasis on critical conditions involved in both normal and abnormal brain development. Other topics include acute and long term effects of toxic exposures (stress, smoking, and alcohol) during pregnancy, and interaction of genes and the environment in shaping the developing brain of high-risk infants, including premature infants and those at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
NSBV BC3377 Adolescent Neurobehavioral Development (R. Romeo). This seminar explores neurobehavioral development throughout pubertal and adolescent stages of development. Specifically, topics will include how neuroendocrine changes induce pubertal onset, structural and functional changes in the adolescent brain, and how these developmental changes influence normal and abnormal psychophysiological processes.
NSBV BC3381 Visual Neuroscience: From the Eyeball to the Mind's Eye (A. White). By absorbing electromagnetic radiation through their eyes, people are able to catch frisbees, recognize faces, and judge the beauty of art. For most of us, seeing feels effortless. That feeling is misleading. Seeing requires not only precise optics to focus images on the retina, but also the concerted action of millions of nerve cells in the brain. This intricate circuitry infers the likely causes of incoming patterns of light and transforms that information into feelings, thoughts, and actions. In this course we will study how light evokes electrical activity in a hierarchy of specialized neural networks that accomplish many unique aspects of seeing. Students will have the opportunity to focus their study on particular aspects, such as color, motion, object recognition, learning, attention, awareness, and how sight can be lost and recovered. Throughout the course we will discuss principles of neural information coding (e.g., receptive field tuning, adaptation, normalization, etc.) that are relevant to other areas of neuroscience, as well as medicine, engineering, art and design.
NSBV BC3382 Neuroscience Frontiers (R. Silver, M. Miozzo). This course exposes students interested in neuroscience to some of the topics of the field, through talks illustrating the state of the art of neuroscience hosted by various institutes and departments at Barnard College and Columbia University. Each week students will virtually attend a talk and later participate in a guided discussion on the research presented in the talk. Students are expected to contribute actively to the discussion.
NSBV BC3386 The Neural Code (G. Gutierrez). By the end of this course you'll understand some of the canonical principles underlying how brains encode information. You'll become familiar with the most influential frameworks and models for describing the encoding and transfer of information in the brain and you'll dive into the paradigms that generate or motivate these coding frameworks. Prerequisites: Introduction to Neuroscience (NSBV BC 1001) and either Systems and Behavioral neuroscience (NSBV BC 3001), or a Stats course (NSBV BC2002, PSYC BC1101, PSYC UN1610, STAT UN1101, STAT UN1201), or a computer science course (such as any of the following: COMS BC1016+lab COMS BC1017, COMS W1001, COMS W1002, COMS W1004), or any bioengineering course, or permission of the instructor. Students will complete a brief survey during registration to determine whether they meet the prerequisites.
NSBV BC3387 Topics in Neuroethics (E. McCaskill). Recent advancements in neuroscience raise profound ethical questions. Neuroethics integrates neuroscience, philosophy, and ethics in an attempt to address these issues. Reviews current debated topics relevant to the brain, cognition, and behavior. Bioethical and philosophical principles will be applied allowing students to develop skill in ethical analysis.
NSBV BC3389 Hallucinations, Illusions, Dreaming, and Imagination (L. Iemi). Perception is often taken as the most striking proof of something factual: when we perceive something, we interpret it as real. In this seminar we will challenge this assumption by taking into consideration states of altered perception, wherein the brain creates perceptual experiences that do not correspond to sensory input. Specifically, we will review a number of experiments showing changes in brain activity accompanying illusions, hallucinations, and dreaming across sensory modalities (i.e., vision, hearing, touch), and in both clinical and non-clinical populations. We will examine the similarities and differences between these states of altered perception both at the level of phenomenology and underlying biological mechanisms, specifically focusing on neural oscillations. Using the latest research findings in clinical, cognitive, and computational neuroscience, this seminar offers a great opportunity to learn more about how the brain creates perceptual experiences and why sometimes we perceive something that isn’t real.
NSBV BC3392 Psychobiology of Stress (R. Romeo). This seminar explores factors that modulate stress reactivity and the impact of stress on the structure and function of the nervous system and behavior. Specifically, topics will include how developmental stage, sex/gender, time of day, and experience influence how an organism responds to stress at endocrinological, neurobiological, and behavioral levels. Note: Students who take this course cannot get credit for NSBV BC2003 (Neuroendocrinology of Stress) or GU4493 Stress and the Brain.
NSBV BC3394 Neurobiology of Social Behaviors (M. Fernandez). This course explores behavioral neuroscience through a guided reading and discussion of recent scientific literature involving research in two “opposite” behaviors, sexual courtship and aggression. These are complex social behaviors that are highly conserved across species. Although some of their features are species-specific, there are broad similarities throughout the animal kingdom. Complex interactions between genes, environmental signals, and hormones influence the development and manifestation of these behaviors, but the core circuitries involved appear to be pre-wired in the nervous system, as animals with no previous social experience can engage in normal encounters that are characterized by stereotyped behavioral patterns. The study of innate social behaviors in genetically tractable organisms offers unique opportunities to identify underlying neuronal circuitry, understand how this circuitry is genetically specified and elucidate the contributions of neuronal sexual dimorphism.
NSBV BC3398 Psychobiology of Sleep (A. Shechter). This seminar explores sleep and circadian rhythms, emphasizing how these factors and their disruption influence health, function, and well-being. Topics will include the physiological and neurobiological generation of sleep and circadian rhythms, and the interaction between these systems with cognitive, behavioral, endocrine, metabolic, and mood/psychiatric variables in humans.
NSBV BC3405 Neuroscience of Trauma (E. McCaskill). This lecture course provides a comprehensive overview of theoretical models and research relevant to the neurobiology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy and neurodevelopmental processes underlying psychological trauma. Cognitive, emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with post traumatic experience are examined from a neuroscience perspective. Neurotherapeutic treatment interventions are reviewed and critiqued as models of applied clinical neuroscience.
NSBV BC3388 Models of Neuropsychiatric Disorders (K. Bath). This course is a seminar designed to enhance students understanding of the methods used in primary research to inform how we study and understand the neural basis of both normative and pathological behavior in humans through the use of model systems. Through this course students will read and discuss primary research papers, debate the merits, limitations, and applicability of various approaches for advancing our understanding of the human condition, gain skills in presentation of scientific data, and a richer understanding of the scientific process. Topics covered will include the study of depression, anxiety, aging, memory, evolution, developmental disorders, and genetics (among others).
NSBV BC3592 Neuroscience Guided Research (K. Pham). Neuroscience research commonly generates datasets that are increasingly complex and large. Open science and data sharing platforms have emerged across a wide range of neuroscience disciplines, laying the foundation for a transformation in the way scientists share, analyze, and reuse immense amounts of data collected in laboratories around the world. This class is designed to introduce students to several open source databases that span multiple investigative levels of neuroscience research. Students will utilize the datasets to conduct individual research projects.
NSBV BC3390 Neuronal Circuits (M. Fernandez). This course introduces students to state-of-the art genetic and computational tools to study connectivity in neuronal circuits that control behavior. The focus will be on the Drosophila Circadian Clock Neuron Network (CCNN), a well-characterized neuronal circuit that controls sleep/wake cycles among other rhythms in physiology and behavior. Students will learn about genetic tools for neuronal circuit mapping and connectomics analysis, and will perform behavioral experiments with transgenic animals in which specific neuronal subpopulations within the CCNN were genetically manipulated.
NSBV BC3593 Senior Research Seminar (members of NSB faculty). By the end of the spring semester program planning period during junior year, majors should identify the lab they will be working in during their senior year. Discussion and conferences on a research project culminate in a written and oral senior thesis. Each project must be supervised by a scientist working at Barnard or at another local institution. Successful completion of the seminar substitutes for the major examination.
NSBV BC3099 Independent Study (members of NSB faculty).