Foundation Courses

A major challenge in a broad multidisciplinary area like Mind Brain Behavior is the development of a common core of basic knowledge. This common language can allow students and scholars from a wide range of fields and backgrounds to communicate fruitfully on topics beyond the areas of their immediate expertise. The MBB tracks seek to help you develop such a knowledge base by offering a set of "foundation" courses. In the first two years, two lecture courses -- Psychological Science and Neurobiology of Behavior – will give you a broad exposure to the physiological and behavioral bases of concerns addressed in the MBB disciplines. Supplementing these MBB courses are other introductory course requirements in the concentration for the specific areas covered in each track.


This courses provides MBB students with a general introduction to topics relevant to all the MBB tracks. It addresses foundational questions such as, “How can the mind be studied scientifically? Is the mind a computer? How did evolution shape the mind and brain? How should we think about nature and nurture? How can the brain generate thought and perception? What is consciousness?” It addresses specific faculties of the brain such as visual and auditory perception, memory, attention, reasoning, imagery, language, the social and nonsocial emotions, self-knowledge, love, sex, and violence. It presents the neural, computational, developmental, phylogenetic, and adaptive dimensions of our psychological faculties, and discusses research from psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, and the arts. Introduction to Psychological Science will be offered both semesters in 2021-2022.

Psychology 1, Introduction to Psychological Science
4 units of course credit, course ID 123941, fall class number 13009, spring class number 12977
fall term: Professor Daniel Gilbert, Mondays/Wednesdays 1:30-2:45 p.m. plus discussion sections TBA, Science Center B
spring term, Professor Jason Mitchell, hours to be arranged

Course Description: Psychology 1 is not just an introduction to the field of psychology but an owner's manual for the human mind — and an opportunity to explore some of the most fascinating issues in intellectual life. After laying a foundation in concepts about the brain, evolution, information, nature and nurture, and scientific approaches to psychology, the course covers specific topics including perception, cognition, attention, learning, memory, emotion, decision making, consciousness, development, language, personality, individual differences, psychopathology, social cognition, cooperation and conflict, and love and sex.


This course covers the topic central to all students in MBB tracks: the fundamentals of brain structure and function. These fundamentals will provide a common background knowledge important for all tracks. For example, for students in History and Science, it is important to understand theories of neuron and brain function in order to trace the development of these views. For students in Philosophy, it is important to have a realistic conception of how the brain actually works when, for example, discussing the relationship between mind and body. For students in Computer Science, it is important to understand how real neurons work in order to develop more biologically realistic computational models. For students in Psychology, it is important to understand behavior in terms of cellular function and anatomical circuitry to provide new insights on psychological theories. For Neuroscience, this course provides an initial view of cellular processes and systems which will be further developed in higher level courses. Even if the final focus of the concentration designed by individual students does not include biological experimentation, it is important that all students keep in mind the constraints of biological knowledge.

Neuroscience 80, Neurobiology of Behavior
4 units of course credit, course ID 207476, class number 13301, divisional distribution Science and Engineering and Applied Sciences
also listed as Molecular and Cellular Biology 80 (course ID 117711, class number 11145)
fall term, Professor Jeff Lichtman and Dr. Kathleen Quast, Tuesdays/Thursdays 10:30-11:45 a.m. plus discussion and laboratory sections TBA, Northwest Building B-103 (basement)
An introduction to the ways in which the brain controls mental activities. The course covers the cells and signals that process and transmit information, and the ways in which neurons form circuits that change with experience. Topics include the neurobiology of perception, learning, memory, emotion, and neurologic disorders. This year we are combining interactive, didactic videos with "live" Tuesdays and Thursdays featuring guest lectures, hands-on demonstrations, and review sessions in addition to small discussion sections. Notes:
The course is open to students with little formal training in biology. Only Neuro 80 or MCB 80 can be taken, not both.