Neuroscience - A.B., through the Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Faculty

Director

  • Jonathan D. Cohen (co-director)
  • David W. Tank (co-director)

Professor

  • Carlos D. Brody
  • Jonathan D. Cohen
  • Nathaniel D. Daw
  • Asif A. Ghazanfar
  • Elizabeth Gould
  • Michael S. Graziano
  • Uri Hasson
  • Sabine Kastner
  • Mala Murthy
  • Yael Niv
  • Kenneth A. Norman
  • Jonathan W. Pillow
  • H. Sebastian Seung
  • David W. Tank
  • Samuel S. Wang

Associate Professor

  • Michael J. Berry
  • Lisa M. Boulanger
  • Ilana B. Witten

Assistant Professor

  • Timothy J. Buschman
  • Annegret L. Falkner
  • Jesse Gomez
  • Andrew M. Leifer
  • Lindy McBride
  • Catherine Jensen Peña

Associated Faculty

  • William Bialek, Physics
  • Lauren L. Emberson, Psychology
  • Elizabeth R. Gavis, Molecular Biology
  • Alan Gelperin, Princeton Neuroscience Inst
  • Coleen T. Murphy, Molecular Biology
  • Joshua W. Shaevitz, Physics
  • Diana I. Tamir, Psychology
  • James P. Taylor, PPPL Engineering and Infrastrc
  • Teodora Z. Todorova, Building Services

Senior Lecturer

  • Alan Gelperin

Lecturer

  • Anthony E. Ambrosini
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Program Information

The Princeton Neuroscience Institute offers the neuroscience concentration for undergraduates with a strong interest in pursuing an in-depth study of the brain. Neuroscience is a broad interdisciplinary field requiring rigorous preparation in basic science. Students in this discipline are expected to understand the basic principles and approaches of modern neuroscience. The concentration provides an opportunity for the serious study of molecular, cellular, developmental, and systems neuroscience as it interfaces with cognitive and behavioral research. Since modern neuroscience is relying increasingly on quantitatively sophisticated methods and theory, students are also expected to gain competency in, physics, mathematics and computation. By offering a combination of courses and interdisciplinary research, students who complete the neuroscience concentration will be highly qualified to pursue graduate work at the best neuroscience, psychology or biology graduate programs and will also have completed, in large part, the background requirements to enter medical or veterinary school. Other possible career paths for those with a neuroscience degree can be found here. 

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

Prerequisites

To enter the neuroscience concentration, students must have completed NEU 201 Fundamentals of Neuroscience, NEU 202 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience, and MAT 103 Calculus I.

Note:

  • Placement into or out of MAT 103 is decided by the Department of Mathematics.
  • Students must earn a "C" or better in each prerequisite course in order to enter the Neuroscience concentration.
  • Students do not need to take NEU 201 before NEU 202.

Program of Study

In addition to the prerequisites for entry into the program, concentrators must complete the following:

  1. NEU 350, Laboratory in Principles of Neuroscience
  2. NEU 314, Mathematical Tools for Neuroscience
  3. PHY 101 Introductory Physics I and PHY 102 Introductory Physics II. (Note: Placement into or out of these Physics courses is decided by the Department of Physics).
  4. Five NEU courses from three of the following four subject areas: Molecular/Cellular/Disease, Circuits & Systems, Neural Computation, and Cognitive & Social Neuroscience. The list of current NEU electives are found here, plus three cognate courses.
  5. One 200-level or higher course in cell biology from the following list:
    • MOL/EEB 214, Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology
    • MOL/EEB/CBE 215, Quantitative Principles in Cell and Molecular Biology
    • MOL 342, Genetics
    • EEB/MOL 211, Life on Earth: Chaos and Clockwork of Biological Design
  6. One 200-level or higher course in behavior from the following list:
    • PSY 207, Psychopathology
    • PSY 255, Cognitive Psychology
    • PSY 252, Social Psychology
    • PSY/CGS 254, Developmental Psychology
    • PSY/NEU 338, Animal Learning and Decision Making: Psychological*
    • PSY/NEU 345, Sensation and Perception*
    • EEB 311, Animal Behavior
    • EEB 313 Behavioral Ecology
    • EEB 323, Integrative Dynamics of Animal Behavior
  7. One course in quantitative thinking from the following list
    • SML 201, Introduction to Statistics and Machine Learning
    • COS 126, General Computer Science

*Note: Cross-listed NEU courses will not count twice in the elective total. Courses can only be used one time and in one elective category.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. In the fall semester of the junior year students are required to participate in tutorials, read papers from the original literature, and prepare papers on assigned topics. In the spring term students write a research proposal with the guidance of a faculty adviser with whom they will eventually do their senior thesis.

Senior Independent Work. During the senior year each student, with the guidance of a faculty adviser, undertakes a major research effort. This research project can be a laboratory or independent study that will be written and presented as a senior thesis.

Senior Departmental Examination

Students are required to present their work to two thesis readers during an oral exam. The exam usually takes about 30 minutes and students should be prepared to describe the background of the thesis, defend its contents, and propose future directions. The grade for the oral defense will be the average of the two from the faculty members. 

Study Abroad

Students interested in study abroad should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) as early as possible, to discuss how best to pursue this possibility and to obtain the necessary course approval.

Entry through the Integrated Science Sequence (ISC)

The first year ISC sequence (ISC 231, 232, 233, 234) offers an alternative to the combination of MOL 214 or 215 (biology elective), COS 126 (quantitative thinking elective), and PHY 101-102 (required courses). ISC 236, Biochemistry and Neuroscience offers an alternative to NEU 201 (a prerequisite). ISC 235, Genetics and Genomics, offers and alternative to MOL 342, Genetics (and will thus count as a "biology" elective).

NEU Courses

A list of NEU courses can be found here.

Courses

NEU 101 Neuroscience and Everyday Life (also
MOL 110
/
STC 102
) Not offered this year SEL

Acquaints non-science majors with classical and modern neuroscience. Lectures will give an overview at levels ranging from molecular signaling to cognitive science with a focus on the neuroscience of everyday life, from the general (love, memory, and personality) to the particular (jet lag, autism, and weight loss). The laboratory will offer hands-on experience in recording signals from single neurons, examining neural structures, and analysis of whole-brain functional brain imaging data. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. Instructed by: S. Wang, A. Gelperin

NEU 201 Fundamentals of Neuroscience (also
PSY 258
) Fall SEN

This is a survey course in neurobiology which takes a mechanistic and reductionist perspective to cover important topics in the field, including the physiological basis of neural excitability, sensory and motor processing, learning and memory, and neuropsychiatric diseases. Instructed by: I. Witten

NEU 202 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (also
PSY 259
) Spring EC

An introduction to cognitive brain functions, including higher perceptual functions, attention and selective perception, systems for short- and long-term memory, language, cerebral lateralization, motor control, executive functions of the frontal lobe, cognitive development and plasticity, and the problem of consciousness. Major neuropsychological syndromes (e.g., agnosia, amnesia) will be discussed. Prerequisite: 258 or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. Instructed by: M. Botvinick

NEU 306 Memory and Cognition (See PSY 306)

NEU 330 Computational Modeling of Psychological Function (also
PSY 330
) Not offered this year SEL

A fundamental goal of cognitive neuroscience is to understand how psychological functions such as attention, memory, language, and decision making arise from computations performed by assemblies of neurons in the brain. This course will provide an introduction to the use of connectionist models (also known as neural network or parallel distributed processing models) as a tool for exploring how psychological functions are implemented in the brain, and how they go awry in patients with brain damage. Prerequisite: instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. Instructed by: K. Norman

NEU 336 The Diversity of Brains (See PSY 336)

NEU 408 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (also
MOL 408
/
PSY 404
) Not offered this year SEN

A survey of fundamental principles in neurobiology at the biophysical, cellular, and system levels. Lectures will address the basis of the action potential, synaptic transmission and plasticity, local circuit computation, sensory physiology, and motor control. Prerequisites: MOL 214 or MOL 215, PSY 258, PHY 103-104, and MAT 103-104, or permission of instructor. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. Instructed by: T. Buschman, I. Witten

NEU 410 Depression: From Neuron to Clinic (See PSY 410)

NEU 437 Computational Neuroscience (also
MOL 437
/
PSY 437
) Not offered this year SEL

Introduction to the biophysics of nerve cells and synapses, and the mathematics of neural networks. How can networks of neurons compute? How do we model and analyze data from neuroscientific experiments? Data from experiments running at Princeton will be used as examples (e.g., blowfly visual system, hippocampal slice, rodent prefrontal cortex). Each topic will have a lecture and a computer laboratory component. Prerequisite: MOL 410, or elementary knowledge of linear algebra, differential equations, probability, and basic programming ability, or permission of the instructor. Two 90 minute lectures, one laboratory. Instructed by: C. Brody

NEU 447 Neuroimmunology: Immune Molecules in Normal Brain Function and Neuropathology (also
MOL 447
/
GHP 447
) Not offered this year SEN

In this course, we will explore the diverse and complex interactions between the brain and the immune system from the perspective of current, cutting-edge research papers. In particular, we will focus on the molecular mechanisms of these interactions and their role in brain development and function as well as their potential contributions to specific neurological disorders, including autism. In the process, students will learn to read, critically evaluate, and explain in presentations the content of articles from the primary literature. Prerequisites: MOL 214/215. Instructed by: L. Boulanger