What does it mean to be human? How does the brain make us who we are?
In Transylvania’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program, faculty from various disciplines—including psychology, biology, chemistry, philosophy, and computer science—help students explore these and other complex questions related to the functioning of the brain and how it affects behavior, personality, and one's sense of self. Research in these areas can have social and political implications, shaping how we as a society address criminal behavior, support victims of drug or alcohol abuse, or help those with brain injuries.
The study of brains and computers merges in the technical specialty of artificial intelligence, which is now essential in a number of fields, from video game development to medical robotics to military weaponry.
Experts in artificial intelligence seek to simulate a number of intrinsically human functions—such as reasoning, planning, learning, communication, perception, and the ability to move and manipulate objects—and thereby create highly effective machines. To master the human model, computer scientists study living neural networks. In some cases, machines are even being taught to make “moral” decisions, which may have far-reaching and controversial implications.
Success in this area raises philosophical issues about the nature of the mind and the ethics of creating artificial beings, issues that have been addressed by myth, fiction, and philosophy through the ages. After generations of debate, neuroscience has emerged as a unified field of study for addressing these complex questions.
At Transylvania, neuroscience majors can choose an emphasis in psychology, biology, or computer science. A student planning to enter a medical or health field, for example, can major in neuroscience with an emphasis in biology and still complete the coursework necessary to prepare for a specific health-related career. A student interested in research or diagnostics involving brain imagery may choose to focus on computer science. Or, a student interested in the behavioral manifestations of brain anomalies may choose the psychology track.
Available courses—such as Behavioral Pharmacology, Mental Organs, and Music Cognition—cover a wide range of topics to address students’ diverse interests.