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Department of Psychology
Multidisciplinary Studies Program in Neuroscience

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Contact Information
Dr. Tuan Tran, Director

Mult. Studies Program in Neuroscience
Dept. of Psychology, Rawl 225
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858

General Email:
neuroscience@ecu.edu

Multidisciplinary Studies - Neuroscience Concentration

What is Neuroscience?

Neuroscience is a relatively new discipline compared to Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology. However, the study of the brain has been carried out over many centuries. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and how it regulates behavior and cognition. Explaining this interaction has been described as one of the last frontiers in the biological sciences by renowned neuroscientist and Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. Eric Kandel. This field is challenging, exciting, and interdisciplinary. The interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience allows scientists, physicians, and clinicians to share a common interest about the nervous system. Central to neuroscience are questions such as:

  • What are the neurobiological substrates of learning and memory?
  • What are the short- and long-term neural consequences of drug abuse?
  • What are the molecular mechanisms underlying disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's disease?
  • How does the brain rewire itself after a traumatic injury?
The list of questions is nearly endless! The very nature of this list of questions changes and grows as we continue to learn more about the workings of the central nervous system.

The Neuroscience Program at ECU
At ECU, Neuroscience is offered as a concentration in the Multidisciplinary Studies Program. The concentration is offered through both the BA and BS degrees. It is designed to provide students with a diverse scientific background that will allow them to pursue a career in neuroscience and a wide variety of other fields. The program is not only designed for students desiring to pursue a career in neuroscience, but is also an excellent program for students desiring a career in medicine or other health-related profession. Indeed, many of the course requirements in the curriculum overlap with the undergraduate courses required by most medical schools (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Physics).

The curriculum includes a strong core of required biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology courses, lab research experience in neuroscience, a two-semester Capstone sequence, and many electives. The large selection of electives permits a student to learn about many neuroscience-related areas or to concentrate on a single area. Seminars, lectures, and laboratory research experiences are designed to give students:

  1. An understanding of the molecular, cellular, biochemical, physiological mechanisms and processes underlying nervous system functioning, behavior, and psychological processes.
  2. A fundamental understanding of the basic scientific method and many of the basic research techniques used by neuroscientists.
  3. A major that is flexible enough for students to select courses for themselves which will prepare them for entering into advanced degree programs beyond or within ECU that offer MA, MS, PhD, or MD degrees. Advanced degrees are often needed in the following career areas:

    • Academia
    • Research
    • Medicine
    • Government
    • Private Industry
  • A bachelor's degree in neuroscience may also assist in occupations where employers do not require an advanced degree but prefer college-educated individuals with good analytical and problem-solving abilities.

In so many ways the combination of psychology, biology, and chemistry courses with the foundations core of ECU, makes the neuroscience concentration a firm example of a liberal arts education. Contributing faculty are found in twelve departments within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Allied Health, and the College of Health and Human Performance. If you are interested in proper advising towards the minor or major, then please contact Dr. Tran.

Neuroscience News -- ScienceDaily

  • New learning mechanism for individual nerve cells
    Learning is based on the strengthening or weakening of the contacts between the nerve cells in the brain -- this has been the traditional understanding. However, this has been challenged by new research findings. These indicate that there is also a third mechanism – a kind of clock function that gives individual nerve cells the ability to time their reactions.
  • Selectively rewiring brain's circuitry to treat depression
    On Star Trek, it is easy to take for granted the incredible ability of futuristic doctors to wave small devices over the heads of both humans and aliens, diagnose their problems through evaluating changes in brain activity or chemistry, and then treat behavior problems by selectively stimulating relevant brain circuits. While that day is a long way off, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex does treat symptoms of depression in humans by placing a relatively small device on a person’s scalp and stimulating brain circuits.
  • 'Frenemy' in Parkinson's disease takes to crowdsourcing
    A key neuronal protein called alpha-synuclein normally gathers in synapses, where aggregates of it help regulate neurotransmissions, researchers have found. In overabundance, though, a-synuclein can choke off communication altogether, leading to neuronal death and related diseases.