Jun 15, 2021  
Course Catalog 2010-2011 
Course Catalog 2010-2011 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Catherine A. McCormick, Professor of Biology and Neuroscience; Department Chair
Lynne Bianchi, David H. & Margaret W. Barker Assoc. Professor of Neuroscience; Assoc. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Albert Borroni, Lecturer in Neuroscience and Computer Science
Mark Braford, Jr., Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
Katherine Caldwell, Visiting Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Michael D. Loose, Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Tracie Paine, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Janice Thornton, Professor of Neuroscience
Brian Woodside, Visiting Assistant Professor of Neuroscience


Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of study that employs the tools and perspectives of biology, psychology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and medicine to achieve a better understanding of brain function, behavior and the mind. The Neuroscience major is designed for students interested in how the brain works and the relationship between the brain’s operation and perception, thought, emotion, and behavior. Opportunities are available for students to use multiple approaches at many levels of analysis including molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral levels.

The Neuroscience major is appropriate for any student with an interest in the field. It will also serve those students interested in graduate study or professional work in any area of neuroscience or in fields such as animal behavior, behavioral genetics, biopsychology, pharmacology, clinical psychology, biotechnology, medicine, or public health. To be well prepared for graduate or professional study in these fields, students will generally need to take additional course work over and above the minimum required to fulfill the Neuroscience major. Students should consult closely with their advisors to determine the most appropriate set of courses consistent with their interests and goals. 


Advanced Placement.

There is no advanced placement examination in Neuroscience. Advanced placement credit for a course within the Neuroscience major that is taught by another department will be accepted for credit toward the Neuroscience major if the relevant department accepts advanced placement credit for the course toward its major.  First-year students with an interest in Neuroscience who have achieved a Biology AP score of 5 or an IB score of 6 are encouraged to consider enrolling in the following courses in either the first or second semester:  NSCI 201 and NSCI 211.


 Entry-Level Course Sequence Suggestions

Students intending or considering a major in Neuroscience should plan a course sequence for their first and second years with a Neuroscience faculty member.  The following courses should be completed by the end of the sophomore year:  Biology 100 or 103 or 118, Chemistry 101 and 102 (or 103), Neuroscience 201 and Neuroscience 211.  Additionally, completion of Biology 213 during the sophomore year is recommended.

Students starting the major after their first year should work out a course sequence in conjunction with a Neuroscience faculty member.

Neuroscience Major

Any variation in meeting the major requirements indicated below must be approved in writing by the Chair of the Neuroscience Department. Similarly, the department chair must approve course credit earned away from Oberlin before it can serve to satisfy requirements for the major.

Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the Neuroscience major.

The requirements for the Neuroscience major are as follows:

All of the following courses:


Qualified students may take CHEM 103 - Topics in General Chemistry in place of CHEM 101 and 102.

Students who have previously taken NSCI 204 may continue to count it as the equivalent of NSCI 201.

One of the Following Statistics Courses:

One of the Following Courses:

FOUR Lecture/Discussion Electives, three of which must be NSCI courses, distributed as follows:

At least TWO of the following courses with a cellular/systems perspective:

At least ONE of the following courses with a behavioral/cognitive perspective:

ONE additional lecture course from the cellular/systems or the behavioral/cognitive perspectives. At least three of the required four electives must be NSCI courses.

Two Laboratory Neuroscience Electives:

One of the following courses may take the place of a NSCI Laboratory course:


PSYC laboratory courses may have additional requirements.  PSYC 305 can be used to meet either a lecture or a lab requirement, but not both.

Senior Seminar in Neuroscience

Supporting Courses

Neuroscience is inherently an interdisciplinary field.  Certain additional courses outside the major are useful or necessary for gaining admission to graduate programs in particular specialties.  Biology 213 (Cell and Molecular Biology) is recommended and should be optimally completed in the sophomore year.  Students preparing for graduate school in cell and molecular neuroscience might also consider taking courses in  organic chemistry (CHEM 205), bioorganic chemistry (CHEM 254), biochemistry (CHEM 374), physics (PHYS 103, 104),  immunology (BIOL 327) and physiology (BIOL 312).  Students planning to pursue graduate work in cognitive neuroscience could consider advanced work in mathematics (e.g. MATH 220, 232), computer science (e.g. CSCI 142) and other courses listed in the Cognitive Sciences Concentration section of the catalog.  Students with particular interests in animal behavior or brain evolution might select additional courses such as animal physiology (BIOL 312), evolution (BIOL 218), vertebrate structure and evolution (BIOL 203), and biological anthropology (ANTH 102).


The Neuroscience Department does not offer a minor.

Research Opportunities

Students interested in research on or off campus are encouraged to discuss with their advisors the various research options available. Enrollment in NSCI 607- Independent Research - is by consent only. Information on the Honors Program is available below and on the Neuroscience Department’s web page at www.oberlin.edu/nsci.


During the second semester of the junior year or earlier, students wishing to enter the Honors Program in Neuroscience should discuss their interest with one or more of the Neuroscience Faculty. If a faculty member is able to work with a student, he/she will help the student develop an appropriate research project proposal. To be formally accepted into the Honors Program, a student’s research proposal is submitted to the Neuroscience Department early in the first semester of the student’s senior year. Proposals are judged for their quality and feasibility. Students whose proposals are approved enroll in NSCI 607-Independent Research. Admission to the Honors Program requires a minimum of GPA of 3.1 in the major.

Pre-Medical and Health Career Preparation

Students planning to apply to medical school may major in any subject, provided they take those courses required by medical schools for admission. Early in their academic careers at Oberlin, students should discuss their health career plans with one of the Health Career advisors. For a list of these advisors see www.oberlin.edu/hcf.

Transfer of Credit

The Neuroscience Department accepts courses taken at other colleges and universities as meeting requirements for the major if, and only if, the courses are judged to be equivalent in content to courses offered at Oberlin College. In all cases, at least half of the courses a student counts toward meeting major requirements must be taken at Oberlin. A request to the Chair of the Neuroscience Department for permission to substitute a course taken away from Oberlin for the major should be made in advance—prior to enrolling in the course. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure proper transfer of credit forms are completed and placed on file in the Office of the Registrar.

Winter Term

During Winter Term, the Neuroscience Department offers a number of individual research opportunities in the laboratories of faculty members. Also, students are encouraged to participate in one or more of the many off-campus research and internship opportunities in laboratories, hospitals and clinics throughout the country.

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