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Transylvania adds neuroscience major

Psychology professor and neuroscience program director Meg Upchurch.
LEXINGTON, Ky.—Transylvania University will offer a neuroscience major beginning this fall.

Students will delve into how the brain makes us who we are.

“Neuroscience explores the most complex structure in the known universe: the human brain,” said Meg Upchurch, psychology professor and neuroscience program director.

The program will offer an emphasis in biology, psychology or computer science. Students also will be able to apply philosophy – and possibly music – classes to the major. They will receive a well-rounded education while studying the intricacies of the nervous system.

The new major also dovetails with the university’s strategic plan, Transylvania 2020, which calls for expanded multidisciplinary initiatives.

The program will be unlike neuroscience majors at other colleges because it will require that all neuroscience majors take a computer class. The study of brains and computers merge in the development of artificial intelligence and robotics. For instance, computer scientists look at living neural networks to learn how to create more effective machines. And studying how a robot interacts with its environment sheds light on how organisms with a nervous system operate.

Neuroscience is a growing discipline – and a hot topic. The field tackles issues such as athletes’ head injuries in contact sports, and it addresses how to interpret brain scans of criminals who say they couldn’t help what they did because their frontal cortex isn’t functioning properly.

Looking at the larger picture, because so much of what we are arises from the brain, neuroscience will help students answer the liberal arts question: What does it mean to be human?

“It adds to the intellectual discussion on campus,” Upchurch said.

3/7/2013

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