Courses of Study 2022-2023 
    May 27, 2024  
Courses of Study 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Neurobiology and Behavior

In the Biological Sciences program .

In addition to the concentration requirements outlined below, all students must complete the Biological Sciences foundation requirements:

The concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior covers a broad range of topics, all concerned in some way with how animals (including humans) behave and what neural mechanisms underlie their behavior. Students are required to take the two introductory courses, one in behavior (fall) and one in neuroscience (spring), in any order. After taking these courses, each student has a choice of many different upper-level courses for further exploration of areas of special interest, including social evolution, behavioral neurobiology, animal communication, animal cognition, computational and systems neuroscience, neuropharmacology, chemical ecology, motor systems, brain evolution, motivation, and cell and molecular neuroscience.

Neurobiology and behavior is a synthesis of many disciplines, including physiology, anatomy, ecology, evolution, genetics, biochemistry, physics and mathematics. The course requirements beyond the required two-course introductory sequence are left unspecified, so that courses may be selected from a wide range of possibilities, depending on your interests. These include one upper-level neurobiology and behavior course, 3000 level or above of at least 3 credits plus one or two other BIONB courses from the wide variety of course offerings. Credit for classes outside of the BIONB offerings is permitted but, it is at the discretion of the faculty advisor and it should reflect coursework that is cross-disciplinary with the concentration. Students are encouraged to get hands-on experience in a research lab or the field, and/or take one of the advanced laboratory courses or topic seminars during their senior year. Faculty advisers help students plan their courses of study in light of their interests and goals.

The variety of courses offered in this concentration reflects the breadth of research interests of its faculty. These interests span field and laboratory studies. They include such diverse topics as animal communication, plant behavior, sensory systems, systems and computational neuroscience, behavioral genetics, cellular neurophysiology, and neuropharmacology (“drugs and the brain”).

Most students in the Neurobiology and Behavior concentration proceed to further study in graduate, medical, or veterinary school. Still others enter the work force immediately following graduation in the areas of research, business, and teaching.

Neurobiology and Behavior Requirements

  • All requirements must be taken for letter grade unless the course is offered S/U only. Exceptions to the grading option need to be approved by the student’s faculty advisor via the biological sciences petition.
  • A grade of D- or better must be obtained to count course for concentration.
  • A minimum of 15 credits of concentration requirements.

Students are required to take the two introductory courses BIONB 2210 - Neurobiology and Behavior I: Introduction to Behavior  and BIONB 2220 - Neurobiology and Behavior II: Introduction to Neuroscience  with discussion sections (4 credits per semester), and 7 additional credits. The 7 additional credits must include at least one advanced BIONB course of 3 or more credits from the 3000 level or above.  ”Topics” courses (BIONB 4200 s and BIONB 7200 s), independent study (BIOG 4990 ) or (BIOG 4970  ), up to 4 credits, with advisor approval, BIONB 3215 ENTOM 3755 , PSYCH 3020 PSYCH 4230 , PSYCH 4260 /PSYCH 6260 , and BIOSM 4650  may be used toward the additional 7 credit requirement, but do not qualify as the required advanced course. BIONB 4980   (Teaching Experience) cannot be used toward the 7 credit requirement.


Students who declare the concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior (NBB) after taking BIONB 2210  or BIONB 2220  for only 3 credits must still take the 1-credit discussion section in BIONB 2210  and BIONB 2220 . To arrange this, the student should consult the course directors.


The faculty of NBB strongly advises students concentrating in NBB to: (1) gain laboratory or field experience in neurobiology or behavior by taking at least one laboratory course or field biology course, or by doing independent research for course credit (BIOG 4990 ); (2) take at least one special topics (BIONB 4200 ) discussion course on a subject of interest in the junior or senior year.

Examples of laboratory-based and field-based courses are as follows:

Neurobiology and Behavior Concentration Curriculum Learning Objectives

After completing the concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate, through writing, speaking, and problem solving, a mastery of core principles and concepts in Neurobiology and Behavior using multiple levels of analysis by asking both “How” and “Why” questions about causation of behavior at the levels of molecules, cells, neural circuits, and whole organisms.
  • Utilize the scientific method to make observations, analyze data, and form strong (i.e., falsifiable) predictions in the field of Neurobiology and Behavior which can be rigorously tested through further observation and experimentation.
  • Compare human behavior to the behavior of non-human animals leading to an appreciation of how the study of behavior is relevant social systems, to other courses, to their own lives, and to interpreting the world around them.
  • Demonstrate mastery of the following core concepts through writing, speaking or problem solving:
    • The relationships among classical Darwinian selection; kin selection, and sexual selection, and the differences in their evolutionary outcomes.
    • Principles of game theory and its usefulness in studies of inclusive fitness theory applied to deciphering animal cooperation and conflict.
    • Principles of animal communication, plant/animal co-evolution and chemical communication.
    • How information is encoded by neurons and neural circuits: how perceptions are represented, stored, and recalled for later use in decision making
    • How the laws of chemistry and physics apply to basic principles of neuronal and synaptic function, and how to solve problems related to the generation of electrical impulses, the function of synapses, and the formation of short and long-term memories.
    • The major components of the central nervous system of humans, and their functional roles to the extent that they are known.
    • How the nervous system is built during development, how it changes during experience in life, and how it is disrupted by injury and disease. 

Course Offerings in Neurobiology and Behavior

A complete list of BIONB courses