Core Courses

At the beginning of graduate study in neuroscience, most students have taken at least some neuroscience courses. However, the content of those courses may vary considerably from school to school. Also, neuroscience attracts any students from other disciplines – molecular biology, psychology, physical sciences, computer science, and engineering, to name a few. It is desirable to provide a core course that brings all incoming students to a shared level of competency.

At Princeton, graduate study in neuroscience begins with a two-term core course, NEU 501/502. In conjunction with other prepatory courses (math boot camp, neurophysiology laboratory, Math Tools), NEU 501/502 introduces students to modern neuroscience, with an emphasis on areas where Princeton is strong.

The fall course, NEU 501A, covers molecules, cells, circuits, and small-animal systems neuroscience. Students learn about these subjects through lectures, neuroanatomy laboratory, computational simulations, problem sets, quizzes and exams, and critical reading and writing. By the end, they are ready to begin inquiry into animal systems. They are also prepared for NEU 502A, which covers cognitive neuroscience.

NEU 501A is divided into five parts:

  • PART 1: Brain Organization and  Anatomy
  • PART 2: Molecules, Cells, and Development
  • PART 3: The Actoin Potential, Synaptic Transmission, Receptors, and Plasticity
  • PART 4: Neural Dynamics
  • PART 5: Physiological Systems and Behavior

Instructors include Sam Wang, Sebastian Seung, Michael Graziano, Lisa Boulanger, Asif Ghazanfar, Carlos Brody, David Tank, Jonathan Pillow, Esteban Engel, Lindy McBride, Liz Gould, Annegret Falkner, Mala Murthy, Ilana Witten, Michael Fee, Andy Leifer, and Anthony Ambrosini.

This intensive introduction to modern neuroscience continues in the spring term with NEU 502. NEU 502 builds on the cellular and circuit mechanisms learned in NEU 501 to understand how the brain gives rise to cognition. The course covers 7 major topics in cognitive neuroscience: sensory systems, long-term memory and sleep, motor control, attention, working memory, cognitive control, and social neuroscience. The class focuses on a circuits/systems understanding of cognition. In particular, there is a strong emphasis on building a computational understanding of cognition (reflecting the computational nature of cognitive neuroscience at Princeton).

Instructors include Tim Buschman, Michael Berry, Carlos Brody, Jon Cohen, Nathaniel Daw, Michael Graziano, Uri Hasson, Mala Murthy, Yael Niv, Ken Norman, Jonathan Pillow, David Tank, Jordan Taylor, Alex Todorov, Sam Wang, and Ilana Witten.

For both 501A and 502A, the course organizer and a teaching assistant attend all lectures.



Courses of Interest

  • APC 503 Analytical Techniques/Differential Equations
  • APC 514 Biological Dynamics
  • CHE 514 Molecular and Biomolecular Imaging
  • CHM 545/MOL512 Magnetic Resonance in Chemical Biology and Neuroscience
  • CHV/NEU 510 Graduate Seminar in Neuroethics
  • COS 402 Artificial Intelligence
  • COS 429 Computer Vision
  • COS 487 Theory of Computation
  • EEB 502/3 Fundamental Concepts in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
  • NEU 593 Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • MAE 541/APC541 Applied Dynamical Systems
  • MAE 546 Optimal Control and Estimation
  • MOL 504 Cellular Biochemistry
  • MOL 506 Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes
  • MOL 507 Developmental Biology
  • MOL 510 Introduction to Biological Dynamics
  • MOL 515 Methods and Logic in Quantitative Biology
  • MOL 561 Scientific Integrity
  • PHY 561/2 Biophysics
  • PSY 543 Research Seminar in Cognitive Psychology