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Director: Cecilia M Fox, Department of Biological Sciences


Neuroscience represents a relatively new but rapidly expanding area of study that brings together a variety of disciplines to explore the development, structure, functional activities and behavioral consequences of the nervous system. Some areas addressed through the study of neuroscience include cognition, neurobiology of aging, developmental neurobiology and the effects of neuropharmacology on behavior. New research findings focus on evolving concepts in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, neural stem cell research, biochemical basis of thinking and learning and behavior.

The neuroscience major emphasizes a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to understanding the intricate neural mechanisms underlying human and animal behavior. Students will experience a diverse, yet integrated education focused on the relationship between biology and behavior from the introductory to advanced courses of study. Three areas of neuroscience emphasis have been developed, but all majors would have a common core of courses.

Students considering postgraduate careers in neuroscience, experimental psychology, neuropsychology, pharmaceutical research, education, law and medicine are encouraged to pursue this major field of study.

The objectives of this major are to:

  1. offer a strong interdisciplinary approach to the study of neuroscience
  2. provide sufficient opportunities for students to pursue coursework in one of three areas of neuroscience: cellular neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience
  3. develop liberally educated neuroscience majors who will pursue higher education in this or a related field of study
  4. offer a number of interesting and valuable research opportunities for these majors (independent study, field study and honors projects)
  5. encourage students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills through this interdisciplinary experience
  6. address the demand for future neuroscientists, neurologists and neuroscience educators to attend to the numerous disorders/diseases affecting the nervous system, learning disorders and disease processes that develop throughout aging within our population

Course Work

Core Courses:

Seven courses serve as the core of this major.

  • Biology 112.  Zoology. 
  • Biology 263.  Neuroscience. 
  • Psychology 120.  Introduction to Psychology. 
  • Psychology 211.  Experimental Methods and Data Analysis I.  
  • Psychology 212.  Experimental Methods and Data Analysis II. 
  • Neuroscience 367.  Introduction to Neuroscience Methodology. 
  • Neuroscience 373.  Neuroscience Seminar. 

Summary of the Neuroscience Major:

Summary Chart of the Neuroscience Major


The following seven co-requisites are required for this major.  Please note:  Organic Chemistry courses (Chemistry 211-212) are required for those students pursuing an emphasis in Cellular Neurobiology or Behavior Neuroscience.  Computer science courses (CS120-121) are required in lieu of Organic Chemistry for those students pursuing an emphasis in Cognitive Neuroscience.

  • Chemistry 113-114.  General Chemistry. 
  • Chemistry 211-212.  Organic Chemistry. (For Cellular Neurobiology and Behavioral Neuroscience Tracks)
  • Computer Science 120. Computer Science I. (For Cognitive Neuroscience Track)
  • Computer Science 121. Computer Science II. (For Cognitive Neuroscience Track)
  • Math 170.  Analytical Geometry and Calculus I. (Fulfills F2 requirement)
  • Physics 109-110. Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences.

Ethics Course Recommendations:

Due to the increased awareness of ethical implications associated with scientific research (for example, stem cell research), it is of interest to educate the Neuroscience students in the field of ethics.  Therefore, Introduction to Ethics (Philosophy 122, M3 requirement) or Christian Ethics (Religion 210, U2 requirement) is strongly recommended.


This Neuroscience major is designed to provide students with an opportunity to focus on one of three areas of emphasis:  Cellular Neurobiology, Behavioral Neuroscience or Cognitive Neuroscience.

They should select three of the following electives from one area of emphasis and one from a different area of neuroscience interest.

a) Cellular Neurobiology

  • Biology 210.  Genetics. 
  • Biology 265. Cell Physiology.
  • Biology/Chemistry 328.  Biochemistry II. 
  • Biology 342.  Animal Development. 
  • Biology 350.  Vertebrate Physiology.  
  • Biology 365. Molecular Genetics.
  • Neuroscience 381-384.  Independent Study
  • Neuroscience 386-389. Field Study
  • Neuroscience 400-401. Honors

b) Behavioral Neuroscience

  • Biology/Psychology 250.  Animal Behavior. 
  • Psychology 320. Mind and Brain.
  • Psychology 335. Conditioning, Learning, and Behavior. 
  • Psychology 362. Abnormal Psychology. 
  • Neuroscience 381-384.  Independent Study
  • Neuroscience 386-389. Field Study
  • Neuroscience 400-401. Honors

c) Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Computer Science 260. Artificial Intelligence.
  • Philosophy/Psychology 251.  Philosophy of Psychology. 
  • Psychology 315. Cognitive Psychology. 
  • Psychology 376. Seminar in Experimental/Cognitive Psychology. 
  • Psychology 320. Mind and Brain.
  • Neuroscience 381-384.  Independent Study
  • Neuroscience 386-389. Field Study
  • Neuroscience 400-401. Honors

Appropriate advanced courses offered by LVAIC institutions may be substituted for the above mentioned electives with the prior approval of the Neuroscience Program Director.

Select Course Descriptions

Neuroscience (BIO 263) – The study of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropathology; special emphasis on functional aspect of brain organization; introduction to theories and research regarding neurodegenerative disorders through journal club discussions. Laboratory includes gross anatomy and microscopic study of the central nervous system, computer assisted neurophysiology experimentation, computerized and radiographic study of the brain and a semester long behavior project.

Introduction to Neuroscience Methodology (NEURO 367) – This course will provide students with the background to understand the various experimental methods used in the field of neuroscience.  Laboratory experiences and journal club discussions of primary scientific literature will be used to develop skills in preparation for future neuroscience research endeavors.  Students will apply the fundamental techniques learned in this course to design their own research projects.

Neuroscience Seminar (NEURO 373) – The capstone course in the area of neuroscience.  Students research current scholarly literature on topics related to the field of neuroscience and compose research papers and oral presentations on a particular topic of interest.  Emphasis is placed on effective literature searches, appropriate citations of scientific articles, analysis and interpretation of research data, thesis development and effective communication of scientific concepts.  This is a writing intensive seminar.    

Philosophy of Psychology (PHIL/PSYCH 251) - This course is an examination of philosophical and empirical theories of the mind. Main questions will be: What is the mind? How does the mind relate to the brain and behavior? Can the mind be studied scientifically? What is the nature of conscious experience? Different accounts of the nature of mind will be discussed such as behaviorism, materialism, and functionalism. In addition, we will survey main approaches to the mind found in contemporary cognitive science, a multi-disciplinary field consisting of (among other things) artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and philosophy. 

Brain Sex (NEUR/IDIS 293) - In considering sex differences in the brain, a number of questions arise. Do biological factors, such as sex hormones, influence our sexual fate after our genetic information is established? Do these biological factors make women more nurturing or men more aggressive? Do these same factors explain differences in sexual orientation between or within each sex group? Do they contribute to the predominance of men and women in particular careers? This course will explore how scientists working from a behavioral neuroscience perspective would address these questions differently than those working from a neuroendocrinological and psychosocial perspective. The answers to these questions may have critical implications for understanding the social roles of men and women in today’s society and the different educational and emotional issues that face males and females. Sex differences in the brain may also impact the legal rights of those whose sexual orientation or gender identity do not conform to social norms and may influence the type of health care provided due to brain gender related issues. Empirical investigations and scientific theories from the fields of neurobiology, psychology, sociology and endocrinology that claim to define and explain gender differences will be discussed. Cognitive abilities and preferences, gender identity and communication styles will be studied using popular and scientific literature from the fields of psychology, behavioral neuroscience, endocrinology, developmental biology and genetics. We will end our study by questioning whether the “doing of science” is itself a gendered activity.

Lehigh Valley SfN Chapter

Brain Awareness Week LogoIn 2009, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) approved a petition to develop a chapter in the Lehigh Valley. The Society for Neuroscience is the largest professional organization committed to the discipline of neuroscience worldwide. The Lehigh Valley SfN Chapter is composed of primarily neuroscience faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, clinicians and interested public. This local chapter is dedicated to fostering a sense of social responsibility and leadership abilities in all Lehigh Valley SfN Chapter undergraduate members as they engage in scholarship and educating the public about the brain and benefits of neuroscience research through Brain Awareness Outreach programs. Our chapter is unique in that we focus our resources in supporting the work of undergraduates. The founding neuroscientists of this chapter are faculty currently working at Moravian College, Cedar Crest College, Muhlenberg College, Lafayette College and Lehigh University. In fact, our faculty, research interests and Brain Awareness Outreach programs are featured on our website at www.lvsfn.com. Students and faculty provide “hands-on” neuroscience activities for children of all ages and general brain research information for their families. Over the past few years, we have developed partnerships with the Bethlehem Area Public Library, Parkland Library, Cops-n-Kids reading program, local science centers, local schools and Moravian Village Assisted Living Community.