Behavioral Neuroscience

The mission of the Behavioral Neuroscience Program is to train students in the neural basis of behavior. Our core faculty have expertise in the areas of learning and memory, motivated behaviors, sensory and motor systems, and cognitive neuroscience. We seek to better understand the pathologies underlying obesity, drug addiction, schizophrenia, and autism. We use a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, including anatomical tracing, directed lesions and pharmacological inactivation, microdialysis, high performance liquid chromatography, fast scan cyclic voltammetry electrophysiology, genetic models, optogenetics, and functional imaging. We combine these neuroscience techniques with such behavioral measurements as operant conditioning, activity monitoring, taste reactivity, microstructure analysis of ingestive behavior, spatial maze learning, psychophysical tasks, and cognitive assays to better understand the neural basis of behavior.

Our graduate program provides a broad foundation in Behavioral Neuroscience – including cellular and molecular neurobiology, functional neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and neural control of behavior. Students enter the Behavioral Neuroscience Program under the direction of a primary mentor and are immersed in research projects throughout graduate training, completing a Master’s project during the first two years, then advancing to their Doctoral work. We hold a weekly colloquium throughout the academic year, which provides a forum for students and faculty to discuss current issues and research. In addition, several seminar series on campus provide the opportunity meet colleagues from other institutions. Our students regularly present their work at local, national, and international meetings. As many students are interested in academic careers, graduate students are also encouraged to complete a departmental teaching practicum, in which they are guided in teaching a course to undergraduates. Graduate students in Behavioral Neuroscience receive support from either teaching or research assistantships, or from other intramural and extramural fellowships. A number of fellowship opportunities, in particular, are available to qualified minority students.

Our faculty are active in the local neuroscience community on campus, as well as the larger regional and national communities. We are core members of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience, an interdisciplinary unit within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of faculty from Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Philosophy and Psychology. We are members and Councilors of such professional societies as the Midwestern Psychological Association, the Chicago Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, the North American Menopause Society and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Our research laboratories receive funding from such institutes as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIDA, NIA, NICDH, NIDCD, NINDS, NHLBI), the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD), and the Brain Research Foundation.


Course Requirements for the PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience

  • PSCH 484 Neuroscience 1
  • PSCH 485 Neuroscience 2
  • PSCH 569 Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience (Brown Bag--6 semesters)
  • PSCH 483 Neuroanatomy

Plus three elective courses from the following list:

  • PSCH 560 Advanced Learning
  • PSCH 562 Neural Bases of Learning and Memory
  • PSCH 565 Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSCH 566 Neural Bases of Motivation
  • PSCH 568 Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience


Course Requirements for a department minor in Neuroscience

  • PSCH 484 Neuroscience 1 or NEUS 501 Foundations of Neuroscience 1
  • PSCH 485 Neuroscience 2 or NEUS 502 Foundations of Neuroscience 2
  • NEUS 588 Human Neuroscience and FMRI
  • PSCH 560 Advanced Learning
  • PSCH 562 Neural Bases of Learning and Memory
  • PSCH 565 Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSCH 566 Neural Bases of Motivation
  • PSCH 568 Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • BIOS 587 Topics in Neurobiology
  • PSCH 483 Neuroanatomy