An Interdisciplinary Major

The Biological Basis of Behavior Program (BBB) is an interdisciplinary major in which students explore biological, psychological, computational and clinical approaches to understand the nervous system as the biological basis of behavior, as well as perception, memory, motivation, and  emotion.  The BBB program, created in 1978 as one of the first neuroscience undergraduate programs in the country, allows students to explore a broad range of topics in the neural sciences through courses taught by faculty and staff in several departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine


Cutting Edge Neuroscience Research

A distinguishing feature of the major is the emphasis placed on encouraging students to become actively involved in research. Each year more than eighty BBB majors are engaged in cutting edge research throughout campus seeking to push forward our knowledge of how neural circuits give rise to complex behaviors and how these circuits go awry in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Many students in the BBB Program are actively involved in community outreach, participating in the annual Kids Judge Neuroscience Fair for elementary school students from West Philadelphia.

Undergraduates interested in majoring in BBB should take BIBB 109, Introduction to Brain and Behavior, as early as possible in their undergraduate career. This course provides an overview of neuroscience and is required for all upper-level BIBB courses.


Student Research

Effect of respiratory feedback on song production in zebra finches

Arielle Spellun '12
Dr. Marc Schmidt
Arts and Sciences

Growth of regenerating axons through the site of spinal cord injury

Connor O'Brien '07
Dr. Rita Balice-Gordon

Investigating the neural mechanisms of volatile anesthetics using transgenic mice lacking norepinephrine

Frances Yifan Hu '12
Dr. Max Kelz

Brain mechanisms that underlie economic decision making in humans

Khoi Vo '12
Dr. Joe Kable
Arts and Sciences

Genetic basis of climatic droplet keratopathy (CDK) in a population of Mapuche Indians in Argentina

Rachel Gittelman '11
Dr. Ted Schuur
Arts and Sciences

Effect of oxidative stress on the expression of NRF2 in neurons of Alzheimer patients

Charles Glass '08
Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto
Dental Medicine

New neurons in the adult mammalian hippocampus

Allison Rao '09
Dr. Ted Abel
Arts and Sciences

Computational modeling of neuronal place fields in hippocampus

Josh Merel '11
Dr. Vijay Balasubramanian
Arts and Sciences

Auditory receptive field properties of forebrain vocal-motor neurons in a songbird

Sarah Smith '12 (CN Minor)
Dr. Marc Schmidt
Arts and Sciences

BBB In the News

May, 2014
For years, we have been telling our students that the cerebellum is important for error correction of movement, and that the climbing fiber pathway from the brainstem provides a kind of error...