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 2020-2021.

Psychology 1, Introduction to Psychological Science
4 units of course credit, course ID 123941, fall class number 147777, spring class number 14648
fall term: Professor Daniel Gilbert, Tuesdays/Thursdays 1:30-2:45 a.m.
spring term, Professor Steven Pinker, hours to be arranged

Fall Course Description: An introduction to the scientific study of human psychology, covering topics such a neuroscience, perception, learning, memory, emotion, decision-making, consciousness, sleep, cognitive development, psychopathology, language, mating, violence, cooperation, altruism, stereotyping, and prejudice. This course has been entirely re-designed for 2020 to optimize online learning. Students will watch pre-recorded lectures off-line. During the twice-weekly on-line sessions, students will interact with the professor, the teaching fellows, and a weekly celebrity guest.
Spring Course Description: Surveys the scientific study of human psychology. Introduces students to topics such as perception, consciousness, development, cognition, emotion, motivation, psychopathology, decision making, and social behavior.


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
also listed as Molecular and Cellular Biology 80

4 units of course credit, course ID 117711, class number 12476, divisional distribution Science and Engineering and Applied Sciences
fall term, Professor Jeff Lichtman and Dr. Kathleen Quast, Fridays 10:30-11:45 a.m.
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" Friday sessions, group projects, and small discussion sections. Course Notes: The course is open to students with little formal training in biology. This course cannot be taken if Neuro 80 has already been taken. MCB 80 cannot be taken concurrently with Neuro 80. Course Requirements: Anti-Req: Cannot be taken for credit if MCB 81 or NEURO 80 already complete.