Behavioral Neuroscience

The Department of Psychological Sciences offers a major and minor in Psychology and a major in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Due to the number of shared courses between the Behavioral Neuroscience major and the Biology and Psychology majors, students with a Behavioral Neuroscience major are not eligible to double-major in Psychology or Biology, or minor in Psychology.

The Psychology Major

Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behavior and the cognitive and biological processes that underlie it. The objective of USD’s psychological sciences program is to advance the student’s understanding of psychology as a science, a profession, and a means of promoting the welfare of humans and animals. The major is designed to help students prepare for admission into graduate or professional school in psychology and to provide a foundation for entry into fields such as neuroscience, law and criminal justice, primary and secondary education, medicine, business, human resources, the ministry, and social work.

The Behavioral Neuroscience Major

The Behavioral Neuroscience major is an interdisciplinary major within the department of Psychological Sciences which emphasizes the interaction of behavior with biological systems including brain pathways, nervous systems and hormonal systems. Disciplines such as psychology, biology, chemistry, anthropology, and philosophy all contribute to a cohesive understanding of psychological functions from a biological perspective. The assimilation of disciplines helps students develop intellectual skills in critical thinking and sound reasoning, and requires integration of knowledge from multiple levels of analysis, all of which are important characteristics of a liberal arts education. Career opportunities include jobs in healthcare, academia, government and the private sector.



Units: 3

Prerequisites: BIOL 190 and BIOL 225 and BIOL 225L and PSYC 101 and PSYC 230 and PSYC 342

This course explores the major areas of cellular and molecular neuroscience with a strong focus on basic principles of cellular neuroscience, including the biophysical basis of the membrane potential, action potential generation and propagation, axon guidance, neuronal cell biology, synapse formation and neural plasticity. At the molecular level the course will delve into structure of ion channels and receptors and molecular mechanisms underlying these cellular processes.


Units: 3

Prerequisites: BIOL 190 and BIOL 225 and BIOL 225L and PSYC 101 and PSYC 230 and PSYC 342

This course will explore the biological basis of human and animal behavior, with a focus on neural structures and function. Topics will include neural cell physiology, neurotransmitters and receptors, the development of the nervous system, sensory and motor systems, and the biological bases of learning and memory.


Units: 3

Prerequisites: ENGL 121 and PSYC 101 and PSYC 230 and PSYC 260 and PSYC 342 and NEUR 310 (Can be taken Concurrently)

This course is designed to provide in-depth, hands-on experience with the concepts, methods, and techniques used in behavioral neuroscience research, including anatomical and histological methods, and surgical and pharmacological manipulations. Written project reports, as well as a literature review and research proposal, will be required.


Units: 4 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: ENGL 121 and PSYC 101 and PSYC 230 and PSYC 260 and PSYC 342 (Can be taken Concurrently) and NEUR 310

In the capstone course, senior Behavioral Neuroscience majors will integrate what they have learned in their previous classes. In this particular class, we will take a more hands-on approach by conducting neuroanatomy, behavioral and neurophysiology experiments. In addition to these experimental modules we will explore behavioral neuroscience by reading and critiquing empirical literature and the methodology used to investigate issues in behavioral neuroscience. The course will involve the discussion and application of research methods and statistics concepts through course content and the completion of a research project (extensive reading of the empirical literature, designing an experimental study, and collecting and analyzing data); writing and revising a scientific, APA style research paper; and orally communicating the project in a presentation.


Units: 0

As part of the department¿s assessment program, each graduating senior is required to take a major field test in psychology and senior exit survey (NEUR 492). A student who fails to do so may be restricted from graduating.


Units: 3-4 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

The purpose of this course is to provide the advanced undergraduate student with an opportunity to explore a variety of contemporary topics in behavioral neuroscience. These will be in-depth investigations on subjects of special interest to the instructor. Course may be repeated with different topics. Junior standing; additional prerequisites vary with topic and/or instructor.


Units: 1-2 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Experience in serving as a researcher in a project conducted by a faculty member. By invitation. May be repeated for a maximum of six units. P/F only.


Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Prerequisites: NEUR 310

Library, laboratory, or field research of the student's own design conducted under faculty supervision. A written application and final report are required. Senior standing preferred.