About the Neuroscience Teaching Lab
The Neuroscience major offers a wide range of courses designed to encourage exploration in the brain sciences at three levels of analysis: molecular and cellular, circuits and systems, and behavior (including human cognition). While our curriculum is designed to engage students and encourage faculty-mentored research, we have long recognized the critical need to inspire our students with early-career exposure to hands-on laboratory experiences and course-based research opportunities. In support of such curriculum development, we recently received generous funding from the Shannon family and two other donor families to provide state-of-the-science equipment and staff support for a Neuroscience Teaching Lab. We have now begun to implement the vision these gifts enable in two adjacent spaces located in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) “glass cube” at the Levine Science Research Center (pictured above).
Already, we are using these spaces to enable interactions with human brains specimens from the Duke University School of Medicine, including experiences in Neuroscience-themed FOCUS courses, the gateway course for the Neuroscience major (NEUROSCI 102 Biological Basis of Behavior), a core course (NEUROSCI 217D Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience), and a unique laboratory course that few of our peer institutions can offer (NEUROSCI 380L Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain). In addition, this space hosts a discovery science course using a Drosophila model (NEUROSCI 385L Integrative Neuroscience Laboratory). We will soon use this space to offer additional active learning experiences using the methods and approaches of cognitive neuroscience, including electroencephalography (EEG) (early trials pictured above).
With the benefit of additional philanthropy, we aim to expand these facilities to include conventional “wet lab” space for new course-based neurobiological research experiences aimed at the molecular, cellular, circuit, and systems levels of analyses. Such an expanded capacity would allow us to offer our Neuroscience majors and affiliated non-majors a truly world-class education and increase our student’s exposure to neuroscience innovation and discovery at all levels of analysis. We expect that these investments in our students will produce positive learning outcomes, increased scientific efficacy, and durable interest in research that will lead many to pursue advanced faculty-mentored research, senior theses, graduate education, and fulfilling careers in STEM.