Systems and Integrative Neuroscience

SINS faculty, postdocs, and graduate students seek to examine the complex interplay among the brain, behavior and environment, utilizing multiple levels of analysis. These include behavioral, electrophysiological, pharmacological, cellular, genetic, molecular, and neural-network model approaches.

The areas of interest of our faculty include: neuroimmune interactions and behavior; early-life experience and maternal care; cognitive development and aging; neural basis of vision and audition including multisensory and sensorimotor integration; large-scale oscillations and pharmacological mechanisms of spatial/temporal processing; interval timing and temporal memory; neural-network models of associative learning and sensory gating; sex differences in brain and behavior including numerical cognition and spatial navigation; nutrient and hormonal modulation of learning and memory across the lifespan; and the roles of the basal ganglia in goal-directed behavior and habit formation.

Additional Information

Active research participation is central to the PhD program in Systems and Integrative Neuroscience (SINS). Students are accepted into the program under the guidance of a specific faculty member, and work closely with them for the duration of the program. Collaboration with other students or faculty from within and outside the department is also strongly encouraged. The training program is flexible, and is tailored to meet the specific needs of each student.

Requirements

Requirements for the PhD include:

  • Two first-year laboratory rotations ;
  • Four foundation courses, including: cell and molecular neuroscience, behavioral and computational neuroscience, and cognitive neuroscience;  along with an elective in developmental cognition, clinical, social or cognitive science;
  • Participation in seminars relevant to the field of research;
  • Successful completion of a major area paper and oral qualifying examination;
  • Teaching experience;
  • Presentation of findings at professional meetings and in published manuscripts;
  • Completion of a research dissertation under faculty guidance
     

Most students complete the PhD within 5-6 years. Students can expect to receive extensive training in basic brain and behavioral sciences, as well as a core foundation in statistical and data analysis methods that will prepare them for a research-focused career in academics or industry.

Advanced research techniques available include:

  • Immunohistochemistry (multiple label light and fluorescence);
  • Confocal microscopy and stereology;
  • Radioimmunoassay, ELISA and multiplex protein analysis;
  • Flow cytometry;
  • Quantitative real-time PCR;
  • Immune and glial cell cultures;
  • Core-body telemetry;
  • Pharmacological assays including self-administration;
  • Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, and microinjection techniques;
  • Electrophysiological recording in vivo and in vitro as well as magnetic resonance imaging;
  • And a wide-variety of advanced behavioral assays, including those for learning and conditioning, memory, interval timing, counting, spatial navigation, anxiety, social interaction, maternal care, and psychophysical/multi-dimensional analysis of auditory and visual integration.
     

All SINS faculty are actively recruiting graduate students.

Visit our department's application page for more information on how to submit an application to our graduate training program.
 

Genome Science Research Building 2The Genome Science Research Building 2 (GSRB2; pictured at right) is home to to 3 core faculty  (Meck, Williams & Yin). The third floor (21,444 gross sq. ft.) is a state-of-the-art  facility for the study of brain and behavior using small animals as subjects. Experimental rooms for behavioral analysis are equipped with radial-arm and water and Barnes' mazes, activity boxes, startle, and operant conditioning chambers for study of cognitive processes in small rodents. All behavioral test areas are soundproofed and are across the hall from animal housing. There are video-tracking systems in several of the procedure rooms that allow continuous recording in both light and dark phases of the day; computer programs allow for automated collection and analysis of maze and operant data. Home cage wheel running and general activity can be monitored remotely. Wet labs for analysis of RNA, DNA, and immediate early genes, as well as fully equipped histology suite, and several electrophysiology rigs are also available.

Laboratory space: includes desktop computers for each graduate student and offices for postdoctoral fellows. Communal labs available to faculty and Trainees include:

Surgical suite: designed for small animal surgeries and perfusions. It includes a biosafety hood, chemical hood with sink, 2 surgical stations for use with injectable or gas anesthesia, and an anti-room with refrigerator, ice machine, sink and counters for preparing animals for surgery.
Histology: houses standard hooded sink and a vented work station, as well as a radioisotope hood for assays, fully equipped with standard stirrers, shakers, balances, vibratome, microtome, cryostat.
Image analysis: Features 2 Nikon microscopes with video image analysis capability as well as stereology software (Stereologer, Microbrightfield, Inc.) attached to a motorized stage and high resolution video camera. An Olympus epifluorescence microscope is also available.
Electrophysiology suites: equipped with a Plexon recording system for sleep analysis, single or ensemble recording studies,
Molecular biology suite: used for analysis of RNA, DNA (both PCR and fluorescence in situ).

Thirteen animal housing rooms provide ample caging for mice, rats, pigeons and fish for all researchers. All caging (Allentown) is individually ventilated and both bottle water and automatic watering systems are available. A cage wash facility, storage for food and bedding, and general equipment are shared by all researchers on the floor.

The main offices of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience are located on West campus in one of the original Duke University buildings, The building contains the chair and staff offices, as well as the laboratories for many P&N faculty. The department also has facilities and resources for cognitive neuroscience research in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience (housed in the Levine Science Research Center-LSRC) and in the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center (BIAC), housed in the Medical Center. Facilities and laboratories for our Systems and Integrative Neuroscience faculty are located in the Genome Sciences Research Building II (GSRBII) located on Research Drive.

The Center for Cognitive Neuroscience houses the office and laboratory of Dr. Groh along with other researchers in the Center. Dr. Groh's behavioral and electrophysiology testing suite for monkeys is located in the University Vivarium which is a building connected to GSRB-II. Faculty at the CCN do their imaging work in the associated Brain Imaging and Analysis Center.

Other Research Facilities relevant to SINS Faculty and Students

Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) - A Duke Institute that seeks to seed innovation and collaboration in the Brain Sciences that transcends the boundaries of traditional disciplines and integrates brain sciences with the biomedical sciences, social sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, humanities, law, business, mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering.

Department of Neurobiology is located entirely within the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Research Building, occupying approximately 32,000 sq. ft. of laboratory, office and administrative space. It is a one-minute walk from CCN, BIAC, GSRBII. The Department has fully equipped laboratories for work ranging from visual psychophysics to single neuron recording in awake, behaving monkeys, to molecular analysis of synaptic function.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is actively involved in three major areas of research: 1) the understanding of the biological, social and behavioral mechanisms of psychiatric disorders 2) the role of behavior and the central nervous system in somatic disease, 3) clinical trials aimed at the design and implementation of new Major topics currently being addressed by Departmental investigators include mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit disorders, memory disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and obesity.

Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology  is Duke University's response to the array oof advances in the Genome Sciences over the last decade. It offers, via it's many centers, a comprehensive approach to the study of life. The Institute, via its training programs, talk series, and integrative outreach brings together scientists, engineers, physicians, lawyers, policy makers, business leaders, economists, ethicists, and humanists to explore the genome.Genome Sciences over the last decade. It offers, via it's many centers, a comprehensive approach to the study of life. The Institute, via its training programs, talk series, and integrative outreach brings together scientists, engineers, physicians, lawyers, policy makers, business leaders, economists, ethicists, and humanists to explore the genome.

Faculty from other areas of P&N or other departments may be involved in some way in graduate student training.  However, only the following faculty have the ability to admit Ph.D. students directly to this training program:

Please contact individuals for more information about admissions plans for the upcoming year - they may or may not be admitting!

If you wish to be in the SINs area but your desired mentor does not appear on this list, please contact the area head Tina Williams to discuss your application.