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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 compounds protect nervous system from the structural damage characteristic of multiple sclerosis
    A newly characterized group of pharmacological compounds block both the inflammation and nerve cell damage seen in mouse models of multiple sclerosis, according to a study. Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord, where for unknown reasons, the body's immune system begins an inflammatory attack against myelin, the protective nerve coating that surrounds nerve fibers. Once myelin is stripped from these fibers, the nerve cells become highly susceptible to damage, which is believed to underlie their destruction, leading to the steady clinical decline seen in progressive forms of multiple sclerosis.
  • Reviving drugs with anti-stroke potential, minus side effects
    Scientists have found NMDA receptor antagonists that can limit damage to the brain in animal models of stroke, apparently without the pronounced side effects seen with similar drugs. Now researchers have found a potential path around this obstacle, they report.
  • Enhancing studies on a possible blood biomarker for traumatic brain injury
    New technology could help advance blood biomarker capabilities for improved diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI). An estimated 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury each year, and an estimated 5.3 million individuals -- approximately two percent of the U.S. population -- are living with disability as a result of TBI. Traumatic brain injuries can occur from even the slightest bump or blow to the head.