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About the Program

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. It is a cross-disciplinary field that engages scientists, engineers and physicians in investigating how the nervous system develops and functions on a cellular level as well as the mechanisms that underlie behavior, cognition, mental disorders and neurological disease. An understanding of how the nervous system functions spans both molecular and cellular activity that is best taught by cell and molecular neurobiologists, and behavior that is best taught by psychologists. For this reason undergraduate instruction in neuroscience is done primarily by faculty from the LSA Departments of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Psychology.

The overall goals of this major are to:

  1. provide a course of study in the discipline of Neuroscience that integrates cell/molecular and behavioral components of the field, 
  2. offer abundant opportunities for undergraduate research on cutting edge issues,
  3. provide a course of study that prepares students for graduate training in the field of Neuroscience, for a career in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries or any of the health professions (human medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy) or for any other career where strong analytical skills are required, such as law or business.


  • The formal field of Neuroscience originated in the 1960s, as scientists interested in the brain realized that no single approach (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, behavioral studies in animals, studies of human patients) could give the type of understanding they sought.
  • The Society for Neuroscience was founded in 1969:
    • First annual meeting in 1971 was attended by 1,396 scientists.
    • Journal of Neuroscience was founded in 1981.
    • Current annual meeting attracts about 25,000 scientists, and about 5,000 non-scientists.
  • The Mental Health Research Institute, founded in 1955, was the first major center for neuroscience research on the University of Michigan campus and one of the first in the world. Its current building was dedicated by the governor in 1960 and was later renamed Michigan Neuroscience Institute.
  • The Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Michigan was constituted in 1971, and is the longest-standing in the United States.
  • The undergraduate Neuroscience major was established in 2005 and has grown steadily since its introduction. It currently has:
    • Over 500 declared students!
    • Over 30 core faculty who teach the major undergraduate courses and over 100 affiliated research faculty!