Neuroscience and Behavior - Program Training

This program focuses on the study of brain-behavior relationships, broadly defined. It offers students exceptional flexibility to customize their graduate training and research.  The program also provides equally exceptional access to state-of-the art techniques and technologies, such as single cell recording, optogenetics, electrophysiology (EEG/ERP), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computer simulation.  Problems studied by the neuroscience area include, but are not limited to: molecular and genetic determinants of behavior, physiological bases of motivated behaviors (e.g., appetitive, sexual, maternal and drug seeking behaviors), neural and hormonal bases of learning and memory, neural bases of anxiety, physiological bases of psychiatric disorders, and the underlying mechanisms of cognitive processing and social interaction.  Cognitive processes currently under investigation include associative learning, reward processing, decision-making, selective attention, and problem solving. Clinical phenomena currently under investigation include alcoholism, anorexia, diabetes, epilepsy, obesity, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and autism.  

Relevant campus research facilities and resources:

  • The Purdue MRI facility: (link forthcoming; meanwhile use )
  • Bioscience imaging facility:
  • Transgenic mouse core facility:
  • Genomic core facility:

A number of interdiciplinary centers exist that provide valuable training for neuroscience graduate students at Purdue. Of particular interest are the Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience (PIIN), the Ingestive Behavior Research Center, and the Center for Research on Brain, Behavior, and NeuroRehabilitation CEREBBRAL).  PIIN brings together investigators from many disciplines who share a common interest in the properties of the brain.  PIIN organizes regular special lectures and colloquium series that bring distinguished neuroscientists to Purdue.  The Ingestive Behavior Research Center is an interdisciplinary center that offers a variety of training options such as special lecture series and opportunities to participate in collaborative research on bases of ingestive behavior, eating disorders, and obesity.  CEREBBRAL is an Area of Research Excellence within the College of Health and Human Sciences addressing questions about how to improve quality of life, not just extend it, and how to predict disease- and aging-related declines in highly variable populations.


Required Courses

Neuroscience and Behavior area students are expected to meet all the Department of Psychological Sciences course requirements, including the graduate statistics sequence. In addition, graduate students in the Neuroscience area are expected to complete the three area core requirements, two methods courses as selected, and two seminars as selected.  The Other Relevant Courses listed below are suggested as relevant, but not required.

Neuroscience and Behavior Area Core Requirements:

  • Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (new course replacing PSY 512)
  • Systems and Clinical Neuroscience (new course replacing PSY 512 and PSY 615) (Chester; Sangha)
  • Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience, PSY 692 (Kemmerer)


Methods Courses (at least two from list; substitutions require Advisory Committee authorization):

  • fMRI Design and Analysis, PSY 629 (Helie)
  • Introduction to Confocal Microscopy and Image, BMS 524 (Robinson)
  • Electrophysiology Design and Analysis (Foti)
  • Intro to Computational/Cognitive Neuroscience, PSY 591 (Helie)
  • One of the following statistics courses on repeated-measures/time series:
    • Repeated Measures Designs, PSY 606 (Thomas)
    • Multilevel Modeling, PSY 646 (Lane)
    • Time series and applications, STAT 520
  • Introduction to computational statistics, STAT 545
  • Bayesian Stats for Psych Sci, PSY 646


Seminars (at least two):

  • Genes, Brain & Behavior PSY 633 (Fox)
  • Animal Feeding Models, PSY 633 (Kinzig)
  • Special Lectures Neuroscience, PSY 633 (Rochet)
  • CNS disease (new course being prepared by Rochet)
  • Skill learning PSY692 (Helie)


Other Relevant Courses (not required):

  • Endocrinology, BIOL 559
  • Intro to Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, PSY 591 (Keehn)
  • Eating Disorders, PSY 591 (Kinzig)
  • Neuroethics, PSY 591 (Brewster)
  • Hormones and Behavior, PSY 591 (Kinzig)
  • Neuroscience of Consciousness, PSY 591 (Fox)
  • Cellular Neurobiology, BIOL 602
  • Psychopharmacology, PSY 603 (Chester)
  • Psychophysics, PSY511 (Tan)
  • Neuropsychology, PSY 632 (Powley, previously)
  • Research in Ingestive Behavior, PSY 692 (K.H. Kim)
  • Cognitive/Affective Bases of Behavior, PSY 692 (Clinical seminar)
  • Scientific Writing, PSY 692 (Kail, previously)
  • Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, PSY 692 (Sangha)
  • Seminar in Neurobiology, Endocrinology & Behavior, PSY 696 (Kinzig; Brewster; Sangha)
  • Social Cognition, PSY 646 (Carlson, previously)


In addition, all students in the Neuroscience and Behavior program are required to present an annual oral report on their research to the weekly general meeting of students and faculty in the program. In addition, students are expected to participate in two more specialized seminars in psychobiology during the course of their graduate careers.


The major professor and advisory committee of each student will recommend additional courses that offer instruction closely related to the student's specific research goals. Each student is expected to participate actively in research. New students begin research projects under the close supervision of the major professors and become more independent as their graduate careers progress. Students receive course credit for research by enrolling in individual research courses (PSY 690) and dissertation research courses (PSY 698 and 699).


All students are encouraged to participate in undergraduate instruction during their graduate careers. Students are advised to obtain at least two semesters of such teaching experience.

Major Advisor and Committee

Each student will be assigned a major advisor or major professor upon arriving at Purdue. Each student should also become acquainted with all members of the Neuroscience and Behavior faculty. Changes in the major adviser are always possible by mutual consent. In cooperation with the major advisor, the student selects an advisory committee that supervises the work towards the master's and doctorate. The master's committee consists of at least three members, two of whom must be Neuroscience and Behavior faculty members. The doctoral committee consists of at least four members (including the major advisor). At least three members of the student's doctoral committee must be faculty members from the Neuroscience and Behavior program. Members from other departments or academic areas are usually invited to serve on the student's committee.

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