Cornell adds behavioral neuroscience concentration to course options

Why do we choose to eat what we do? How do we learn the way we do? Why do we behave the way we do?

These are questions that are hard to explain, but soon many more Cornell College students will get a chance to focus their studies on answering those types of questions.

Students can now enroll in a newly created psychology concentration called behavioral neuroscience, which will begin during the fall of 2017. Those students will study social, developmental, and cognitive behavioral processes as they work through their classes. This program of study is recommended for students who are considering graduate study in behavioral neuroscience and biological subfields of psychology, as well as those interested in health-related careers.

Faculty members wanted to add this concentration based on feedback from current and prospective students. Cornell College also recently hired a faculty member, Professor Steven Neese, who specializes in the neuroscience field and who was pivotal in moving this program forward. Professor of Pyschology Melinda Green said many students were fascinated by early courses offered on the subject.

“In Social Neuroscience we taught the brain-based underpinnings of the social bases of behavior and students were enthralled,” Green said. “In Abnormal Behavioral Neuroscience, we explored the biological mechanisms underlying the cause and treatment of mental illness, and students gave the course rave reviews.  Students fully immersed themselves in both courses, expressing a desire to learn more about the dynamic interactions between the behavioral and the neurophysiological.  This was our impetus for hiring a new faculty member in this area and creating a new concentration within our major to provide additional training on the topic.”

Professors say this concentration will work well for students interested in many different sciences. It especially targets students who like to ask questions across interdisciplinary lines.

“We hope to train our students to think across the boundaries of the traditional disciplines in order to answer the big questions related to the cognitive and behavioral processes of humans and other animals,” Green said. “We also hope to continue to train our students to think and behave like scientists as they conceptualize problems with complex solutions.”

Professors Melinda Green, Steven Neese, and William Dragon will teach the behavioral neuroscience courses.