The very nature of these questions continues to expand as we learn more about the nervous system, and illustrates the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of neuroscience.
The coming decades will be tremendously exciting for those who dare to unravel brain-behavior relationships and diseases that disrupt those relationships.
How do we respond to stimuli in our environment, process information, form new memories, make decisions and use language? What are the underlying causes of disorders like depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, aphasias, and Parkinson's disease? How does the nervous system respond to traumatic injury or drugs? What is consciousness? These are some of the central questions in the study of neuroscience.
A UVM Neuroscience degree leads to funded graduate school research
The connections between Andrea Pack’s academic interests at UVM—she majored in neuroscience and minored in math and dance—might seem obscure. But doing science is a creative process, Pack says, and she draws on all three disciplines in her graduate school research supported by a National Science Foundation grant. Working at Emory University’s Laney Graduate School in Atlanta, Pack ‘11 is exploring the process of improving the performance of sensory-guided motor behavior. Her long-term goal is to leverage the research to improve outcomes for patients recovering from brain trauma including strokes. The NSF funding supports her work at the Sober Lab at Emory, which studies the singing behavior of birds as a way of understanding the relationship between neural activity, muscular activation and performing tasks. In the case of the Bengalese finches in Pack’s lab, that task is singing. “We’re studying how the neurons and the muscles of the birds’ vocal areas organize themselves to learn and produce their songs. We look at the muscle coordination and degrees of freedom—how they become efficient singers,” Pack says.
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The University of Vermont introduced the bachelor of science in neuroscience in 2010 and a minor in neuroscience effective in the fall of 2016. Both the neuroscience major and minor were designed as a collaborative effort of faculty in biology, psychology, communication sciences, and the College of Medicine, and joins ranks with a strong neuroscience graduate program and an active, energetic research community within the university.