Neuroscience is a field that incorporates the genetics, biochemistry, structure, function, development, and pathology of the nervous system on the molecular, cellular, and cognitive level.

Hampshire's interdisciplinary approach is well suited to the study of the complex human brain: A student with an interest in medicine might study the neurological correlates of Parkinson's, while another interested in critical race theory might delve into the brain's perception of facial features. Dual interests in brain development and the environment could lead to tracking neuron gene transcription and behavior effects after exposure to a pollutant.

Whatever direction the work takes, Hampshire's focus on original, scientific research allows students to develop and answer unique and interdisciplinary questions in the field of neuroscience while gaining an undergraduate degree.

Student Project Titles

  • Neuroendocrine Correlates of Altruism and Aggression
  • Reading, the Brain, and Reading the Brain: a developmental study in working memory and N400 amplitude
  • HIV in the Pediatric Brain: Evidence of HIV-1 DNA in Nestin Positive Neural Progenitor Cells and Potential Consequences of Infection
  • The Neurophysiology of the Religious Experience
  • Narrating Neuropathology: A Study of Women and Bipolar Disorder
  • CBI and Opioid Receptor Interaction: A Literature and FRET Study
  • Fragile X Syndrome: from Neuron to Cognition

Sample First-Year Course

Brain Mechanisms

In this course, students examine the function of the nervous system with particular focus on mechanisms at work in the brain. Specifically, it links current advancements in cell, molecular and developmental physiology research in the context of neuronal function mechanisms. Topics to be selected are based on student interest and may include neurotropic cues for growth and development, neurotransmitter regulation, integrative intracellular signaling pathways, neuroendocrine control, synaptic transmission, and synaptic plasticity. Advanced topics may include the correlation of ion channel properties and synaptic transmission with physiological functions such as learning and memory and the organizational principles for the development of functional neural networks at synaptic and cellular levels.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind
  • Attention, Brain, and Cognition: Electrophysiological Methodologies
  • Cognitive Development
  • Consciousness Considered
  • Exploring the Unconscious Mind
  • Healthy Hormones and Modern Ills
  • How People Learn: Intro to Cognition and Education
  • Human Gene Therapy
  • Human Physiology
  • Intro to Cognitive Education
  • Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Intro to Neuropsychology
  • Minds, Brains, and Machines: The 50 Key Ideas
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • The Neuroendocrinology of Behavior
  • The Neuroscience of Personality
  • The Plastic Brain
  • Sex on the Brain: Gender, Sex, and Biology

Through the Consortium

  • Biological Rhythms (UMass)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (UMass)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience (SC)
  • Intro to Topics in Neuroscience (UMass)
  • Hormones and Behavior (AC)
  • Neuroanatomy (SC)
  • Neurobiology (AC)
  • Seminar in Neuroscience (SC)

Facilities and Resources

Cole Science Center
Cole Science Center at Hampshire College boasts some of the most up-to-date laboratories at any liberal arts college nationwide. Hampshire's open lab policy makes these facilities available to students at all levels. Classes regularly use our chemistry, endocrinology, and molecular biology laboratories, gaining hands-on experience and learning basic experimental procedures, while concentrators at the Division II and III levels design their own original research projects.

Students have full access to the labs outside of classroom hours in order to perform and analyze their experiments, and are given appropriate training in the use of complex and sophisticated equipment encountered elsewhere only at the graduate and post-grad level. Hampshire's state-of-the-art laboratory equipment includes a laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, an inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometer, and many other resources.

The ERP Laboratory
The ERP laboratory in Adele Simmons Hall provides an amazing opportunity for undergraduate students to design and complete original research in neuroscience.

ERPs, or event related potentials, are a noninvasive measure of electrical activitity occurring in the brain. They have high temporal resolution and are ideal for studying the process of cognition. Studies in the lab have spanned topics as diverse as emotions' effects on attention bias to language development in children, and student projects have been presented at national conferences. The lab currently includes a SynAmps 32 channel amplifier system and two personal computers, one for stimulus display and behavioral response measurement, and another for data acquisition. Additionally, the lab has multiple computers for experimental development, behavioral studies, and statistical analysis.

Neuroendocrinology and Behavior (NEB) Lab
The Neuroendocrinology and Behavior (NEB) Lab is a space and collaborative group of students and faculty doing research to test questions about the role of the nervous and endocrine systems in behavior. Major areas of focus in the lab are social behaviors (parental behavior, pair-bonding, empathy, etc.) and stress reactivity (physiological responses to acute or chronic stressors including brain regulatory and epigenetic mechanisms).

The lab is equipped with two environmental chambers, a microtome, and a microplate reader for tissue histology and hormone immunoassays. We also have tools for controlled behavioral and physiological testing. Early life social environment has profound influence on brain organization and behavioral repertoire. Exposure to stressors can similarly generate lasting modifications to brain function and behavior. The NEB lab is a place to examine the mechanisms for these changes in a community of scholars.