Department of Psychology & Program in Neuroscience

Quantitative Methods (Psyc 120)– An introduction to basic research design, measurement, and the use of descriptive and inferential statistics in psychological research. Topics include correlation, regression, reliability, validity, hypothesis testing, non-parametric techniques, and inferential statistics including analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Introduction to Neuroscience (Neur 201)– The brain is one of the last frontiers of science and unraveling its mysteries incorporates the following fields: biochemistry, cell biology, neurochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, biophysics, anatomy, psychology, and psychiatry.  This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of neuroscience using a problem-based approach. The structure and function of the brain are explored at molecular, cellular, system, behavioral and cognitive levels. Students become familiar with approaches used by neuroscientists as well as the connections between neuroscience and other disciplinary fields.

Design & Analysis (Psyc 203)– Introduces students to research methods used to conduct empirical studies in psychology. Students learn how psychological research is designed and conducted, data are analyzed, and findings are reported. Students read professional journal articles of psychological research, developing skills necessary to draw critical conclusions and design research studies.

Psychopharmacology (Psyc 225)– Psychopharmacology is the study of drugs and behavior. The neurological, physiological, and psychological effects of psychoactive drugs, such as sedatives, stimulants, opiates, antidepressants, alcohol, and hallucinogens are examined.

Physiological Psychology I & II (Psyc 223 & 323/323L)– In these courses the neural, hormonal, and physiological bases of animal and human behavior are examined. Physiological aspects of such topics as language, learning and memory, feeding, sexual behavior, emotions, sleep, and neurological disorders are covered. In the laboratory, students will conduct discovery-oriented research utilizing a variety of techniques employed by physiological psychologists and neuroscientists.

Advanced Neuroscience (Neur 401)- This capstone course builds upon information covered in the prerequisites. Through reading and discussion, students explore in greater depth the development, organization, and functioning of the nervous system. Particular attention is paid to discussion of current research findings.

Team-Taught Interdisciplinary Courses

Human Machine & Advances in Medical Technology (Neur 205/ ECE 205)-From smart algorithms analyzing wearable data to the development of brain-machine interface, significant advances have been made in the development of medical devicesfor treating and assisting patients. In this team-taught course we will explore the
physiological changes (i.e. chemical and electrical signals) associated with voluntary and involuntary physiological activities, develop an understanding of current technology, and discuss the ethical issues surrounding the development of future medical instrumentation. (team taught with Yih-Choung Yu, Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering) Also part of the common core: Science and Technology in a  Social Context

Music & the Brain: The Neuroscience of Music (Neur 255/ Mus 255)-Recent scientific evidence indicates that the benefits of music extend to the brain. Further insights into how music affects the brain may lead to new education methods and ways to treat neurological disorders.  We will take a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the connection between music and neural function. By the end of this course students will have a broad understanding of research in this field and specific knowledge about brain mechanisms mediating music perception and performance. (team taught with Jennifer Kelly, Associate Professor of Music)

Common Core

Melding Mind & Machine (FYS 148)-Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) devices have been developed for medical and non-medical uses, from restoring motor activity to gaming.  BCIs bypass the peripheral nervous system by using neural activity to control an external device, such as moving a cursor on a computer screen or operating a prosthetic limb. Invasive and Non-invasive devices have been developed to enhance human performance as well as rehabilitate individuals with severe motor impairment. These devices hold promise for those with severe motor impairment, providing an opportunity for renewed independence and enhanced quality of life.  In turn, these devices may have a larger positive impact on society as a whole.  Despite the possibilities of this field, there are a number of ethical concerns we must consider, such as working with patients that are neurologically compromised, costs and benefits of using invasive vs. non-invasive devices, and varying user success rates with operating a BCI device.  As we look toward the future of BCI research and development we need to consider the potential impact on society as we merge man with machine. In this course students will consider general ethical issues surrounding human research, discuss the basic processes of neural controlled motor function and how that information is utilized to control an external device, discuss specific ethical issues related to BCI research and development, and explore the future of BCI design.

Technological Telepathy: Advances in Brain-Machine Interface Technology (VaST 216)– The notion that the brain can be directly accessed to allow a human being to control an external device with his or her thoughts alone is emerging as a real option in patients with motor disabilities. This area of study, known as neuroprosthetics, has sought to create devices known as “brain-machine interfaces” (BMIs) that acquire brain signals and translate them into machine commands that reflect the intentions of the user. In the past 20 years, the field has rapidly progressed from fundamental neuroscientific discovery to initial translational applications. In this course we will explore the development, organization, and functioning of the nervous system, discuss where the field is now, and what the future holds for BMI technology. Lastly we will explore the ethical challenges faced by practitioners working in the field. (VaST is no longer part of the common core)