2018-2019 Catalog 
    May 26, 2019  
2018-2019 Catalog

Computational Neuroscience Major

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Assistant Professors Ambegoakar, Bailey, Pyzza

Neuroscience is a rapidly developing interdisciplinary field of study whose primary focus is understanding the neural mechanisms that regulate mental processes and behavior in both humans and animals. At Ohio Wesleyan, the neuroscience program combines courses in the departments of psychology; zoology; botany/microbiology; physics; mathematics and computer science; and chemistry to provide students with an adequate background to develop an interest in and preparation for graduate study and a career in the field of neuroscience or a related discipline. The neuroscience major combines a strong foundation in basic sciences with more specialized courses in psychology, zoology, microbiology, and physics to examine specific brain functions from a structural, functional, and evolutionary viewpoint. Postgraduate study in fields such as neuroscience, molecular biology, behavioral medicine, neurophysiology, neuropsychology, neuropharmacology, biotechnology, and animal behavior are among the many postgraduate options available. Students who are considering a major in neuroscience should contact Dr. Ambegaokar (Director; BOMI), Dr. Bailey (Psychology), or Dr. Pyzza (Mathematics).

Neuroscience research themes (and faculty expertise) tend to veer towards 3 major interests: 1) behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, in which topics such as cognitive processes, emotion, behavior, the connectivity of brain regions, and the neuro-regulation of physiological processes are studied; 2) molecular & cellular neuroscience, in which topics such as synaptic function, neuronal development, genetic regulation, cellular ultrastructures, and cell-to-cell communication are studied; and 3) computational neuroscience, which seeks to model the “algorithms” used by neurons and neuronal networks (and eventually the entire brain) as information processors and regulators.

The Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience track requires students to be proficient in techniques to study behavior and thought processes, in humans and other organisms. Students should also be proficient in anatomy (in particular neuroanatomy) to understand the connectivity between brain regions, and between the brain and other physiological processes with which it controls or interacts (e.g., movement, the endocrine system). This track also applies specialized courses in understanding the neural correlates of specific behaviors, cognition, emotion, and learning & memory, and neurochemical effects on these processes.

The Molecular/Cellular Neuroscience track requires students to be proficient in cell biology and genetic regulation in order to understand the nervous system at a molecular level (e.g., protein, DNA, RNA). The study of neurons must be included in this, but students should also  be knowledgeable of other cellular, molecular, and genetic examples to broaden their understanding of the nervous system. This helps to place the nervous system in the context of other cell types; to understand how to apply molecular properties found in other cell types to neurons and the nervous system; and to learn molecular techniques that are applicable to many cell types (not just neurons).

As a discipline, Computational Neuroscience involves both mathematically modeling neurobiological processes and studying the means by which neural systems process information. These endeavors require a strong technical foundation.

It is not possible to double-major Neuroscience and Computational Neuroscience.

Learning Objectives

1. Students will be able to formulate mathematical models of various levels of complexity to simulate neuronal systems.

2. Students will be able to evaluate the strengths and limitations of specific mathematical models of neuronal systems.

3. Students will be able to differentiate among the fundamental principles of information processing by neuronal systems.

4. Students will be able to apply fundamental analysis techniques to extract information from neuronal data.

5. Students will be able to access, read, evaluate, and replicate results from the primary computational neuroscience literature.

6. Students will be able to effectively communicate concepts in neuroscience, particularly computational neuroscience, to audiences with varying levels of scientific expertise, from the broader neuroscience community to the general public.

Major Requirements

Technical Foundation

The following requirements would serve to complete the major’s technical foundation (6 courses):

Course Requirements

The following course requirements would then provide depth in computational neuroscience as well as breadth in the other primary sub-fields of neuroscience (10 courses):

3 Computational Neuroscience courses:

1 neuroscience course from Behavioral/Cognitive track:



In addition to the major requirements, these courses might be recommended for students’ preparation for graduate study in Computational Neuroscience:

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