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 2019-2020.

Psychology 1, Introduction to Psychological Science
4 units of course credit, course ID 123941, fall class number 16467, spring class number 16405
fall term: Professor Daniel Gilbert, Mondays/Wednesdays 1:30-2:45 a.m., plus discussion section to be arranged, Science Center C
spring term, Professor Jason Mitchell, hours to be arranged

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 11653, divisional distribution Science and Engineering and Applied Sciences
fall term, Professor Venkatesh Murthy, Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays 10:30-11:45 a.m. plus discussions and laboratories to be arranged, Geological Museum 100
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, language, emotion, and mental illness. This year we are changing the way in which this material is taught by emphasizing more student participation through active learning techniques and by providing real-world experiences and hands-on demonstrations each week. 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.