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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

  • Avoiding neurodegeneration: Nerve cells borrow a trick from their synapses to dispose of garbage
    Genetic defects affecting tiny channels in human nerve cells lead to several neurological diseases that result from aberrant nerve transmission, such as episodic ataxia, absence epilepsy, and migraines. These disorders have also been associated with neurodegeneration, but it has been less clear why this should be.
  • Crossing fingers can reduce feelings of pain
    How you feel pain is affected by where sources of pain are in relation to each other, and so crossing your fingers can change what you feel on a single finger, finds new research. "Many people suffer from chronic pain, and the level of pain experienced can be higher than would be expected from actual tissue damage. Our research is basic laboratory science, but it raises the interesting possibility that pain levels could be manipulated by applying additional stimuli, and by moving one part of the body relative to others," the senior author explained.
  • Medulloblastoma: Promising drug target identified
    A protein has been found that is critical to both the normal development of the brain and, in many cases, the development of medulloblastoma, a fast-growing brain tumor that usually strikes children under 10. When the researchers cut the level of the protein Eya1 in half in mice prone to develop medulloblastoma, the animals' risk of dying from the disease dropped dramatically.