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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

  • Popular electric brain stimulation method used to boost brainpower is detrimental to IQ scores
    Using a weak electric current in an attempt to boost brainpower or treat conditions has become popular among scientists and do-it-yourselfers, but a new study shows that using the most common form of electric brain stimulation had a statistically significant detrimental effect on IQ scores.
  • 3-D models of neuronal networks reveal organizational principles of sensory cortex
    Researchers have succeeded in reconstructing the neuronal networks that interconnect the elementary units of sensory cortex -- cortical columns. The scientists say that this study marks a major step forward to advance the understanding of the organizational principles of the neocortex and sets the stage for future studies that will provide extraordinary insight into how sensory information is represented, processed and encoded within the cortical circuitry.
  • Researchers observe the moment when a mind is changed
    Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. This basic neuroscience discovery will help create neural prostheses that can withhold moving a prosthetic arm until the user is certain of their decision, thereby averting premature or inopportune movements.