Neuroscience is a relatively new and rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that encompasses the study of the nervous system and its role in regulating behavior. Among those studying some aspect of neuroscience are biologists, psychologists, chemists, physicists, computer scientists, and philosophers. Neuroscientists study how we learn, process and remember information from the molecular to the philosophical level. They examine subjects ranging from the molecular pharmacology of brain function to the mind-body problem.
In 1989, President Bush signed into law a resolution designating the 1990’s as the “Decade of the Brain”. This recognition reflected the impressive growth, maturity, and importance the field of neuroscience had achieved in a relatively short period of time. The 1994 directory of neuroscience programs compiled by the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs lists over 240 graduate neuroscience programs and over 50 undergraduate neuroscience programs, including Davidson and Duke in North Carolina. These numbers are likely to be even higher today. Our own Wake Forest University Medical School has a successful and internationally recognized Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience that was established in 1990 and includes over 70 faculty members from across the University. In addition, an entire department at the Medical School is devoted to Neuroscience (Neurobiology and Anatomy) as well as multiple clinical departments (e.g., Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, etc.)
The interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience makes it increasingly difficult for undergraduates majoring in one discipline to prepare for careers in this field. The intent of a minor in neuroscience is to provide students with a structured program based on contributions from several different departments so that students will be better prepared to pursue careers in neuroscience.