Department of Zoology and Physiology
1000 E. University Ave
Biological Science Building, room 428
Laramie, WY 82071
To experience emotion, to sleep and dream, to learn, to experience the world though our senses, all require the 2 pounds of jelly-like substance known as the brain. The brain is comprised of about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, that are interconnected. Individual neurons may receive connections from thousands of other neurons and hence the pattern of interconnection between neurons is incredibly complex. Their pattern of connections, how they become electrically active, what types of signals get them excited to ultimately give rise to our consciousness and behavior is the subject matter of neuroscience.
The neurosciences also seeks to unravel what goes wrong with the brain. In all likelihood, someone you know has been diagnosed with one of the following. Consider that the occurrence of dementia. The likelihood of Alzheimer's disease increase with age so that by the time you are in your 80's, 35 out of 100 individuals will suffer from this neurodegenerative disease. Your 80's may seem really far away. But what of autism, a neurological disorder affecting approximately 6/1000 children. Research in 2009 identified brain abnormalities in children with autism. Parkinson's manifests itself below the age of 40 and you will recognize the following names, all with Parkinson's: Michael J Fox, Muhammad Ali, Billy Graham, Janet Reno and the late Pope John Paul II. As our understanding of the brain and nervous system grows, so too will effective treatment strategies.
The minor in Neuroscience exposes students to the field of neuroscience through a variety of courses. Introductory courses provide the basic structure of the brain and electrical signaling by neurons. Electrical signaling has unique patterns that represent information, much like Morse Code representing letters. The challenge is to decipher this pattern for it is the basis of our thoughts, perceptions, memories, etc. Second, to take the anatomy and electrical activity of neurons and construct the neurological basis of: sensation, learning, movement, emotion, sleep-wakefulness. Third, to use our understanding of the brain to account for complex, species-typical behavior patterns.