Behavioral Neuroscience

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Program Overview

Behavioral neuroscience is the study of biological mechanisms underlying human and animal behavior. Behavioral neuroscience sits at the intersection of psychology and biology and addresses topics from the cellular/molecular level to the biological underpinnings of all aspects of behavior and psychological disorders. Over the last decade, there has been a marked expansion in this field, with an increase in graduate programs and job opportunities for behavioral neuroscience majors. A major in behavioral neuroscience is an ideal preparation for such specialties as neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. Furthermore, the major provides excellent preparation for graduate school programs in behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and affective neuroscience, as well as in experimental psychology, neurophysiology, clinical neuropsychology, pharmacology, and many other developing areas in this rapidly growing discipline.

The behavioral neuroscience minor can be used by students earning a BS degree in biology, chemistry, or physics to prepare for graduate studies in many of aspects of brain science, including developmental neuroscience and cellular/molecular neurobiology. Students planning to enter the health professions would find the behavioral neuroscience minor helpful as preparation for specialization in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, and more. The minor is also suitable for a student in any major who has a desire to learn more about the functioning of his or her own brain.


Major in Behavioral Neuroscience

Required Psychology Courses
PSYC 1010 General Psychology
PSYC 1610 Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 2810 Statistics for Life Sciences
PSYC 2820 Research Methods in Psychology
Capstone Experience (choose one of the following)
PSYC 4610 Senior Seminar Current Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 4650 Neuroanatomy & Behavior
PSYC 4900 Special Topics Senior Seminar (with an emphasis in behavioral neuroscience)
Required Science Courses
BIOL 1170 & BIOL 1171 General Biology I & II (with labs)
CHEM 1171 & CHEM 1172 General Chemistry I & II (with labs)
CHEM 2271 & CHEM 2272 Organic Chemistry I & II (with labs)
BIOL 2262
BIOL 1107
Human Physiology
Anatomy & Physiology I

Electives in Psychology and Biology (6 courses)

At least two (2) elective courses must be in Biology and at least two (2) must be in Psychology.

Psychology Courses
PSYC 2360 Human Neuropsychology
PSYC 2510 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 2520 Learning and Applied Behavior Analysis
PSYC 2620 Sensation and Perception
PSYC 2740 Drugs and Behavior
PSYC 2900 Special Topics (with an emphasis in behavioral or cellular/molecular neuroscience)
PSYC 3720 Hormones and Behavior
PSYC 3950 Supervised Research
PSYC 4950 Independent Research
Biology Courses
BIOL 2261 Genetics
BIOL 3314 Endocrinology
BIOL 3324
BIOL 3325
Biochemistry I
Biochemistry II
BIOL 3327 Cell Biology
BIOL 3342 Developmental Biology
BIOL 3354 Molecular Biology

Minor in Behavioral Neuroscience

Students who are not majoring in psychology may complete a minor in behavioral neuroscience as follows:

Required Course
PSYC 1610 Behavioral Neuroscience
Four (4) Additional Courses
(choose 4 from this list)
PSYC 2360 Human Neuropsychology
PSYC 2520 Learning and Applied Behavior Analysis
PSYC 2620 Sensation and Perception
PSYC 2740 Drugs and Behavior
PSYC 2900 Special Topics (Shell)
PSYC 3720 Hormones and Behavior
PSYC 3950 Supervised Research
PSYC 4610 Senior Seminar: Current Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 4650 Neuroanatomy and Behavior
PSYC 4900 Special Topics: Senior Seminar
PSYC 4950 Independent Research

Note: Psychology majors with an interest in behavioral neuroscience should enroll in these courses while completing their major requirements.


Our faculty are inspiring teachers and leaders in their fields of research. See below for specific areas of study that our behavioral neuroscience faculty are engaged in.

Harding Lab

Dr. Harding is currently conducting studies in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using rodents. She uses a rat model for ASD: administering the antiepileptic drug valproic acid to pregnant dams, and measuring the subsequent effects on social and reproductive behaviors in male and female offspring. Future studies will investigate treatments for autism including intranasal oxytocin during development.

Henkel Lab

Dr. Henkel's research explores memory and cognition across the adult lifespan, including young adults, healthy community dwelling older adults, and older adults experiencing cognitive decline. Her research program addresses how cognitive and neural processes give rise to both correct remembering as well as to errors and distortions in memory, and her recent work as part of the Interdisciplinary Health Science Scholars program examines the relation between declines in cognitive functioning and mental health and well being in nursing home residents.

McClure Lab

Dr. McClure's current research examines the efficacy of cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) for the treatment of neuropsychological and functional impairments of individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. She is also using MRI to identify structural and functional predictors of response to CRT in this population.

More About Behavioral Neuroscience

Experiential Learning

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Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a crucial component of the behavioral neuroscience minor and there are several opportunities for students to engage in these experiences.

Supervised Research

During this course, students work in the lab of a behavioral neuroscience faculty member and participate in data collection and data analysis of faculty projects. They receive one-on-one instruction on important topics such as research ethics, research design, statistical analyses, and dissemination of research.  In addition, faculty members work with students as they prepare at least one significant writing project (e.g., research proposal, research report, or literature review).

Independent Research

During this course, students work closely with a behavioral neuroscience faculty member and conduct an individual research project designed by the student. Faculty members mentor all aspects of the study including design, implementation, and dissemination. Each student prepares a full-length research report with the faculty member’s guidance.

Internship in Behavioral Neuroscience

Students register for the Psychology Department’s internship course for credit hours, but choose an internship site with a focus on behavioral neuroscience. Students can select research placements or clinical placements and spend 10 hours per week at the internship site.

Students also have the opportunity to attend on-campus, regional, and national conferences to present their research.

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff, and accomplished scholars devoted to the process of innovation and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the members of our behavioral neuroscience faculty.

Meet the Faculty

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