Students at Albion College have the opportunity to immerse themselves in neuroscience from several perspectives. Professors in three departments—Biology, Philosophy, and Psychology—share an interest in understanding the neural underpinnings of behavior and mental activity, and have developed a strong and growing neuroscience program at Albion. Beginning with the experience of a Freshman Seminar focusing on the mind, through numerous courses of direct relevance to neuroscience, and culminating in meaningful research addressing cutting-edge issues, Albion students gain the knowledge, insight, and skills necessary to success in graduate study or careers relating to neuroscience.
Although neuroscience as a discipline entails a common goal of understanding the nervous system, the emphases of scientists from various backgrounds often differ. Students who select the Neuroscience Option will be exposed to all three of these ways of approaching the topic:
- Biology: Biologists often focus on the physiological principles that govern the function of the nervous system, from the systems level (e.g., how do various parts of the brain interact) to the cellular (how do neurons communicate) or the molecular (how do genes determine the structure of membrane-embedded proteins).
- Philosophy: Philosophers usually come to neuroscience out of a desire to understand some aspect of the mind (as underlain by the brain). Philosophy's long-standing interest in epistemology, or how we know things, leads to a desire to understand cognition, thought, and knowledge as products of the brain.
- Psychology: Psychologists are concerned with behavior and mental activity, and examine how neural activity underlies interactions between organisms, behavior of the individual, and regulation of one's internal state. A psychologist's focus might range from the organismic down to the cellular.
Neuroscientists in all three of these disciplines often share common techniques and even common research questions, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. Neuroscience is truly inter- or cross-disciplinary, and an education in neuroscience, far from being narrow, can be a broadening and enriching experience.