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B.S. with a Specialization in Neuroscience

Major Code: CG29

A major may elect to receive a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Neuroscience. This area of specialization is intended for majors interested in neuroscience research or medicine. Allowed electives include courses in cognitive neuroscience, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology.

Major Requirements

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Lower Division Requirements

(11 courses, 44 units or 10 courses, 40 units)


  • MATH 10A, 10B, 10C, 18
  • OR MATH 20A, 20B, 18

* Students intending to take COGS 118A, B, C, or D are advised to take COGS 18 and MATH 20-A-B-C-E, 18, and 180A before their junior year.

Cognitive Science

  • Introduction: COGS 1
  • Design: COGS 10 or DSGN 1
  • Methods: COGS 13, 14A, 14B
  • Neuroscience: COGS 17
  • Programming: COGS 18 or BILD 62 or CSE 6R or 8A or 11

Upper Division Requirements

(12 courses, 48 units)

Core (6 courses)

  • Distributed Cognition: COGS 100
  • Fundamental Cognitive Phenomena (choose any 2): COGS 101A, 101B, 101C
  • Cognitive Neuroscience (choose any 2): COGS 107A, 107B, 107C
  • Computation: COGS 108

Electives (6 courses)

  • A total of 6 electives are required. 4 courses must be selected from the CG29 section on the approved specialization electives list. 2 courses must be selected from the approved general CogSci electives list.
    • Out of the 6 total electives, at least 3 courses must be taken within the Cognitive Science department (“COGS” courses).
  • One course in the Cognitive Science 19X series may be used as an elective to satisfy the requirements for the B.S. degree, but only with the approval of both the instructor who supervised the course and the undergraduate advisor.
  • COGS 160 may only be used once for an elective.

Approved Electives (PDF)

Approved Specialization Electives (PDF)


Courses for the major must be taken for a letter grade (with the exception of 195, 197, 198, and 199 which are only offered on a P/NP basis). A minimum grade of C- is required for all courses.

Neuroscience Faculty

Andrea Chiba. Associate Professor, CSB 163, (858) 822-1817,, website. Research: Spatial attention, associative learning, acetylcholine, amygdala.

Deanna Greene. Assistant Professor,, website. Research: Developmental cognitive neuroscience, brain network development, cortico-subcortical systems, neurodevelopmental disorders (primarily Tourette syndrome and its comorbid conditions, including ADHD and OCD), neuroimaging.

Terry L. Jernigan. Professor; Director of CHD, AP&M 5343, (858) 534-1548,, website. Research: Relationship of brain development, genetic factors, and experience to developing behavioral phenotypes in children. Individual differences in learning and in neural architectures.

Douglas A. Nitz. Associate Professor, CSB 171, (858) 534-1132,, website. Research: Neural basis of spatial cognition and episodic memory, hippocampus, parietal cortex, premotor cortex.

Lara Rangel. Assistant Professor,, website. Research: Rhythmic coordination of brain activity, information processing in neural networks, dynamic interactions between neurons, learning, memory, neuromodulation.

Ayse P. Saygin. Associate Professor, SSRB 202-208, (858) 822-1994,, website. Research: Cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, visual perception, attention, multisensory integration, biological motion, social neuroscience, language comprehension, human-machine interaction, social robotics.

Recommended Neuroscience Courses

COGS 11. Minds and Brains (4)
How damaged and normal brains influence the way humans solve problems, remember or forget, pay attention to things; how they affect our emotions, and the way we use language in daily life.

COGS 17. Neurobiology of Cognition (4)
Introduction to the organization and functions of the nervous system. Topics include molecular, cellular, developmental, systems, and behavioral neurobiology. Specifically, structure and function of neurons, peripheral and central nervous systems, sensory, motor, and control systems, learning and memory mechanisms. (Students may not receive credit for both Biology 12 and Cognitive Science 17. This course fulfills general-education requirements for Marshall and Roosevelt Colleges as well as Warren by petition.)

COGS 107A. Neuroanatomy and Physiology (4)
This first course in the sequence focuses on principles of brain organization, from neurons to circuits to functional networks. It explores developmental plasticity, neuronal connectivity, cellular communication, complex signaling, and how these various dimensions form functional brain systems. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 1 or Cognitive Science 17.

COGS 107B. Systems Neuroscience (4)
This course focuses on the electrical dynamics of neurons and how their patterns relate to perception, thought, and action. Neural activity patterns underlying vision, touch, audition, proprioception, and head orientation are examined in detail. Also examined are motor control, sleep/wake state production, action planning, learning, memory, attention, spatial cognition and function of the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and hippocampus. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 107A.

COGS 107C. Cognitive Neuroscience (4)
This course reviews research investigating the neural bases for human mental processes, including processing of affective, social, linguistic, and visuospatial information, as well as memory, attention, and executive functions. Also discussed are brain development and brain aging, and the nature of intelligence and creativity. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 107B and its prerequisites.

COGS 115. Neurological Development and Cognitive Change (4)
This course provides an overview of neurological development and explores the relations between physiological change and the experience for the child from the prenatal period through adolescence. Prerequisites:  BILD 10 or BILD 12 or Cognitive Science 107A or Cognitive Science 107B or Cognitive Science 17 or HDP 110.

COGS 116. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (4)
This course 
will discuss the relationship between brain and cognitive development. Topics will include methods for studying the developing brain, how these methods have informed our understanding of cognitive development, the effects of environmental factors, and disorders of brain development.  PrerequisitesCOGS 107A and (COGS 107B or PSYC 106).

COGS 163. Metabolic Disorders of the Brain (4)
Research is showing that cellular metabolic processes are mediating normal and abnormal brain function. For example, neurocognitive disorders often co-occur with metabolic disturbances, such as insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. An understanding of these mechanisms will provide insight to new treatments for cognitive and neurological disorders. The course will cover topics on the role of abnormal cellular structure, genetic, epigenetic and pathogenic influences on synaptic signaling. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 164. Neurobiology of Motivation (4)
This course will address principles of motivation, valuation, and reward, spanning a large territory of topics, from rules of synaptic learning to classroom learning. Recommended preparation: courses in basic biology, physiology, Cognitive Science 107A or 107B or 107C, or courses in education. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 165. Neuroimaging of Cognition (4)
Introduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods for cognitive neuroscience research. This course will cover basic aspects of the physics and biological principles underlying MRI and fMRI, technical aspects of experimental design and data collection for fMRI, as well as basic data processing and analysis approaches. Prerequisites: COGS 107B or COGS 107C or PSYC 106 or PSYC 108.

COGS 169. Genetic Information for Behavior: From Single Cells to Mammals (4)
Behavior draws on a wide range of genes acting as a complex source of information. Model organisms—bacteria, Paramecium, C. elegans, Drosophila, and mice—have provided insight into how genes influence both innate and learned behaviors. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 1 and 107A or permission of instructor.

COGS 170. Brain Waves Across Scales (4)
This course will provide an interactive and hands-on introduction to rhythms and large-scale electrical potentials of the brain. Topics will include the resonance properties of neurons, rhythmic interactions between neurons, the coordination of activity across large populations of neurons that is measurable in the local field potential (LFP) and electroencephalogram (EEG), the advantages of temporally coordinated neural activity, and relevant insights about the brain and cognitive disorders. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 17 or BILD 12.

COGS 171. Mirror Neuron System (4)
This class will examine the neuroanatomy, physiology, and functional correlates of the human mirror neuron system and its putative role in social cognition, e.g., action understanding, empathy, and theory of mind. We will examine the developmental, neuroimaging, electrophysiological, as well as clinical evidence, for and against this hypothesis. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 172. Brain Disorders and Cognition (4)
A review of the patterns of impaired and intact cognitive abilities present in brain-damaged patients in terms of damage to one or more components of a model of normal cognitive functioning. (Cognitive science majors may not receive elective credit for both Psychology 139 and Cognitive Science 172.) Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 107A.

COGS 174. Drugs: Brain, Mind, and Culture (4)
This course explores how drugs interact with the brain/mind and culture. It covers evolutionary and historical perspectives, brain chemistry, pharmacology, expectancies and placebo effects, and models of addiction. It also provides a biopsychosocial survey of commonly used and abused substances. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 175. The Neuropsychological Basis of Alternate States of Consciousness (4)
This course will review the literature that correlates brain rhythms in the human EEG with aspects of cognition, behavioral states, neuropsycho-pharmacology, and psychopathology in order to understand the psychological and neurophysiological underpinnings of these experiences. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 101A or Cognitive Science 107A.

COGS 176. From Sleep to Attention (4)
This course will combine an examination of the neural character of quiet and active sleep states and their potential functions with an examination of the different mechanisms by which the brain mediates attention to specific features of the world. Prerequisites:  Cognitive Science 107A.

COGS 177. Space and Time in the Brain (4)
The course examines features of neural dynamics that map spatial and temporal relationships. Lectures will cover interval timing, mapping of item-to-observer position, mapping of observer-to-world position, and the conjunction of spatial and temporal coding in hippocampus. Prerequisites:  upper-division standing.

COGS 178. Genes, Brains, and Behavior (4)
Evidence for genetic mediation of behavioral and neural differences, mechanisms that may mediate these effects, and the roles of the environment and experience are discussed. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 107A and 107B or consent of instructor.

COGS 179. Electrophysiology of Cognition (4)
Survey the theory and practice of using electrical recordings (event-related brain potentials) to study cognition and behavior including attention, language, mental chronometry, memory, and plasticity. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 107A or Psychology 106; Cognitive Science 101A or Psychology 105.

COGS 180. Decision Making in the Brain (4)
This course covers recent advances in the understanding of neural mechanisms and computational principles underlying the brain’s ability to make decisions. The role of various factors, as well as their neural encoding, will be considered, e.g., observation noise, reward, risk, internal uncertainty, emotional state, external incentives. Prerequisites:  BILD 12 or Cognitive Science 107B or PSYC 106 and Math 31AH or Math 18 or Math 20F and Math 20B and Cognitive Science 108 or Cognitive Science 109 or CSE 7 or CSE 8A or CSE 11.

COGS 184. Modeling the Evolution of Cognition (4)
This interdisciplinary course integrates data on evolutionary theory, hominid prehistory, primate behavior, comparative neuro-anatomy, cognitive development, and collaboration. After lectures, readings, discussions, and Museum of Man tour, students generate a detailed timeline of five million years of human cognitive evolution. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 17, or 107A, or 107B, or 107C.

Career and Graduate School Resources

Possible careers: research scientist, mental health professional, occupational therapist, medicine/health professional.