Behavioral Neuroscience

On This Page

Program Overview

Behavioral neuroscience is the study of biological mechanisms underlying human and animal behavior. Behavioral neuroscience sits at the intersection of psychology and biology and addresses topics from the cellular/molecular level to the biological underpinnings of all aspects of behavior and psychological disorders. Over the last decade, there has been a marked expansion in this field, with an increase in graduate programs and job opportunities for behavioral neuroscience majors. A major in behavioral neuroscience is an ideal preparation for such specialties as neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. Furthermore, the major provides excellent preparation for graduate school programs in behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and affective neuroscience, as well as in experimental psychology, neurophysiology, clinical neuropsychology, pharmacology, and many other developing areas in this rapidly growing discipline. 

The behavioral neuroscience minor can be used by students earning a BS degree in biology, chemistry, or physics to prepare for graduate studies in many of aspects of brain science, including developmental neuroscience and cellular/molecular neurobiology. Students planning to enter the health professions would find the behavioral neuroscience minor helpful as preparation for specialization in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, and more. The minor is also suitable for a student in any major who has a desire to learn more about the functioning of his or her own brain.

Requirements

Major in behavioral neuroscience

Required Psychology courses (5 courses):

  • PY 261: Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PY 281: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • PY 201: Statistics
  • PY 202: Research Methods
  • Capstone Experience (choose one course):
    - PY 361: Senior Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience
    - PY 365: Neuroanatomy and Behavior
    - PY 381: Special Topic Seminar

 

Required supporting courses (7 courses):

  • BI 170 and BI 171: General Biology I and II (with labs)
  • CH 111 and CH 112: General Chemistry I and II (with labs)
  • CH 211 and CH 212: Organic Chemistry I and II (with labs)
  • BI 262: Human Physiology or BI 107: Anatomy and Physiology I

Electives in Psychology and Biology (6 courses):

Psychology (at least 2):
  • PY 236: Human Neuropsychology
  • PY 251: Cognitive Psychology
  • PY 252: Learning
  • PY 262: Sensation and Perception
  • PY 272: Hormones and Behavior
  • PY 274: Drugs and Behavior
  • PY 281: Special Topics (with an Emphasis on Bevioral Neuroscience)
  • PY 295: Supervised Research (in Behavioral Neuroscience)
  • PY 395: Independent Research (in Behavioral Neuroscience)
Biology (at least 2):
  • BI 324 or BI 325: Biochemistry I or II
  • BI 314: Endocrinology
  • BI 327: Cell Biology
  • BI 354: Molecular Biology

Minor in behavioral neuroscience (15 credits)

Students who are not majoring in psychology may complete a minor in behavioral neuroscience as follows:

Required courses:

  • PY 261: Biological Bases of Behavior
  • PY 236: Human Neuropsychology

Plus three additional courses from the list below:

  • PY 251: Cognitive Psychology
  • PY 252: Learning and Applied Behavior Analysis
  • PY 262: Sensation and Perception
  • PY 272: Hormones and Behavior
  • PY 274: Drugs and Behavior
  • PY 361: Senior Seminar: Current Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PY 365: Neuroanatomy and Behavior lecture and lab

Plus any of the following, if the emphasis is on Behavioral Neuroscience:

  • PY 281: Special Topics in Psychology
  • PY 295: Supervised Research
  • PY 381: Special Topics in Psychology: Senior Seminar
  • PY 395: Independent Research

Note: Psychology majors with an interest in behavioral neuroscience should enroll in these courses while completing their major requirements.

Course Offerings

See course descriptions from our catalog for more information.

  • PY 236: Human Neuropsychology
  • PY 251: Cognitive Psychology
  • PY 252: Learning and Applied Behavior Analysis
  • PY 261: Biological Bases of Behavior
  • PY 262: Sensation and Perception
  • PY 272: Hormones and Behavior
  • PY 274: Drugs and Behavior
  • PY 281: Special Topics in Psychology
  • PY 295: Supervised Research
  • PY 361: Senior Seminar: Current Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PY 365: Neuroanatomy and Behavior lecture and lab
  • PY 381: Special Topics in Psychology: Senior Seminar
  • PY 395: Independent Research

Faculty

The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the innovative members of our Behavioral Neuroscience Program.

Research

Our faculty are inspiring teachers and leaders in their fields of research. See below for specific areas of study that our behavioral neuroscience faculty are engaged in.

academic/cas_bn_research.jpgHarding lab: Dr. Harding is currently conducting studies in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using rodents. She uses a rat model for ASD: administering the antiepileptic drug valproic acid to pregnant dams, and measuring the subsequent effects on social and reproductive behaviors in male and female offspring. Future studies will investigate treatments for autism including intranasal oxytocin during development.

Henkel lab: Dr. Henkel’s research explores memory and cognition across the adult lifespan, including young adults, healthy community dwelling older adults, and older adults experiencing cognitive decline. Her research program addresses how cognitive and neural processes give rise to both correct remembering as well as to errors and distortions in memory, and her recent work as part of the Interdisciplinary Health Science Scholars program examines the relation between declines in cognitive functioning and mental health and well being in nursing home residents.

McClure lab: Dr. McClure’s current research examines the efficacy of cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) for the treatment of neuropsychological and functional impairments of individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. She is also using MRI to identify structural and functional predictors of response to CRT in this population.

 ‌son_inhsi_healthscolars.jpg

Sarah Birney (College of Arts and Sciences: psychology) and Kaitlyn Krauss (Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies) at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2014

Experimental Learning

Experiential learning is a crucial component of the behavioral neuroscience minor and there are several opportunities for students to engage in these experiences.

Supervised Research

During this course, students work in the lab of a behavioral neuroscience faculty member and participate in data collection and data analysis of faculty projects. They receive one-on-one instruction on important topics such as research ethics, research design, statistical analyses, and dissemination of research.  In addition, faculty members work with students as they prepare at least one significant writing project (e.g., research proposal, research report, or literature review).

 

Independent Research

During this course, students work closely with a behavioral neuroscience faculty member and conduct an individual research project designed by the student. Faculty members mentor all aspects of the study including design, implementation, and dissemination. Each student prepares a full-length research report with the faculty member’s guidance.

 

Internship in Behavioral Neuroscience

Students register for the Psychology Department’s internship course for credit hours, but choose an internship site with a focus on behavioral neuroscience. Students can select research placements or clinical placements and spend 10 hours per week at the internship site.

Students also have the opportunity to attend on-campus, regional, and national conferences to present their research.

Search Results