Flash Player 9 (or above) is needed to view presentations.
We have detected that you do not have it on your computer. To install it, go here.

Like this document? Why not share!

Introductory Neuroscience— Courses In An Evolving Concept ...






Total Views
Slideshare-icon Views on SlideShare
Embed Views



0 Embeds 0

No embeds



Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
Post Comment
Edit your comment

    Introductory Neuroscience— Courses In An Evolving Concept ... Introductory Neuroscience— Courses In An Evolving Concept ... Document Transcript

    • The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE), Spring 2003, 1(2): E2-E3Introductory Neuroscience— Courses In An Evolving Concept,Teaching That Which Is Yet To Be Truly DefinedEric P. WiertelakDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience Studies Program, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN 55105 The mission of the introductory neuroscience neuroscience instruction. Boitano and Seyal (2001)course might be summarized briefly: to broadly define the reported on a survey of directors of graduate andfield and begin the student’s investigation of the nervous undergraduate neuroscience programs, which revealedsystem. But consider what accomplishing these goals that the list of specific undergraduate course work ourmight entail. At many institutions, the study of graduates need for acceptance to graduate training inneuroscience is increasingly multidisciplinary, with multiple neuroscience is predominantly natural science. Beyonddepartments contributing core courses, and still others the list, which includes introductory biology, calculus,prerequisite or enhancement options for the major. “To chemistry, and “research experience,” what determines abroadly define the field” and “to begin the student’s quality undergraduate education in neuroscience? Whileinvestigation of the nervous system” calls for the instructor research-based education is and should remain a hallmarkto reconcile content from such areas as biology, of undergraduate neuroscience, the undergraduate majorpsychology, philosophy, math, computing science, or program should not set out to duplicate or approximatechemistry and other disciplines, into (typically) a single the graduate school experience, but rather to prepare oursemester course. Implicit as a goal for that same course undergraduates for both the possibility of advanced trainingwill be to establish for the student how neuroscience as a in neuroscience, and, in the liberal arts tradition, for adultprogram of study fits into a model of Liberal Arts education; life. At the very least, we want our graduates to be thea course of study that leads to the development of a broad type of candidates for graduate training that can activelyknowledge base and structure from which the student may contribute to the further understanding of the nervousdepend on for their lifetime to facilitate the experience, system and behavior, and the type of educated consumersinterpretation, and investigation of all manner of things. of information as adults that can use their training in In recent years, an explosive growth in information neuroscience to aid them in contributing to society.technology and in neuroscience research productivity has Like the program or major, the introductory coursebrought mountains of course-content relevant findings to in neuroscience needs to reflect the needs, hopes, andour classroom and laboratory doors. Each day seems to noble goals we have for our undergraduates. Developing abring new approaches to the study of neuroscience, and syllabus is made difficult by the fact that, for a course thateach new approach, new findings. Just one beneficiary of will truly expose our students to the breadth of the field andthe research momentum, undergraduate curricula in begin an investigation of the nervous system, there is noneuroscience have flourished, and like the field, grow adequate text at this time. Thankfully, there are a numberricher daily with an increasing diversity of offerings. of texts that accomplish some of these goals, and many In planning my own introductory course, I find sources for outside readings as well as an exhaustivemyself returning again and again to the question of what primary literature base that can accomplish the rest. Manyconstitutes an effective introduction to the study of recent books bear mentioning here as possibilities now forneuroscience. In my own institution’s program, we have additional readings or supplemental texts for introductoryexpanded tremendously from our early days in terms of neuroscience, but let me suggest just two such possibilitieswhat students in our program involve themselves with. here. To involve students in neurophilosophy and informOriginally, our undergraduate program was conceived of as them about this growing area, Patricia Smith Churchland’sstrictly a psychology/biology enterprise, and we, like many “Brain-Wise” (2002) is an excellent introduction that isinstitutions, were very successful in recruiting students to written at a level undergraduate students can appreciate.that vision of neuroscience education [for an excellent On the other hand, Joseph LeDoux’s “Synaptic Self” (2002)review of neuroscience education trends, see Ramirez is one of a number of excellent recent books synthesizing(1997)]. Recently, we revised the major, specifically to large aspects of the field in lay terms. It is importantreflect the broadening interdisciplinarity of neuroscience however, that the amount of material instructors musttoday. In doing so, our goal was to better prepare our assemble in a supplemental reading list for their coursesstudents for an expanding spectrum of neuroscience also prove informative to textbook publishers. Despite thegraduate opportunities, including but not limited to artificial many resources we have at present, in the years to comeintelligence, computational neuroscience, cognitive we will need publishers to provide us with more choice andneuroscience, neurohistory, neurophilosophy, and yes, representative content in the texts we employ not only incellular, molecular, and behavioral neuroscience. introductory neuroscience, but across the spectrum of The great range of opportunities now available for neuroscience courses if we are to continue to achieve ourgraduate training in neuroscience calls into question the goals for student learning in an ever-expanding field.nature of effective and appropriate undergraduate JUNE is a publication of Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) www.funjournal.org
    • The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE), Spring 2003, 1(2): E2-E3 E3 While we are busy exposing students to the worldof research in our own labs, and along the way makingsure that the requirements for graduate training or medicalschool are met, we need to help satisfy the great need theworld has, as William James might have said, “for thosewho can achieve independent thought.” It is in theundergraduate curriculum that we must first strive toexpose our students to the many ways of thinking aboutneuroscience, so that these new neuroscientists maysomeday provide the field novel ideas and advancements.And in our neuroscience introductory course, at thebeginning of the curriculum, is the place to establish for ourstudents the many ways that exist today for approachingthe study of the nervous system and behavior, and toforeshadow the even larger opportunities that await themthrough interdisciplinary study.REFERENCESBoitano JJ, Seyal AA (2001) Neuroscience curricula for undergraduates: A survey. Neuroscientist 7:202-6.Churchland PS (2002) Brainwise: Studies in Neurophilosophy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.Ramirez JJ (1997) Undergraduate education in neuroscience: A model for interdisciplinary study. Neuroscientist 3:166-8.LeDoux JE (2002) Synaptic self: How our brains become who we are. New York, New York: Viking Penguin.Address correspondence to: Dr. Eric P. Wiertelak, Department ofPsychology and Neuroscience Studies Program, 1600 Grand Avenue,MacalesterCollege, Saint Paul, MN 55105 Email:wiertelak@macalester.edu Copyright © 2003 Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience www.funjournal.org