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The number of undergraduate concentrators in neuroscience has grown enormously in recent years, signaling increased interest in the subject.

In the class of 2009, 47 students concentrated in neuroscience, up from 18 concentrators in the class of 1989, according to the department's 2009 annual report.

The Department of Neuroscience teaches and conducts research on the various functions and diseases of the nervous system, according to its Web site. Because most concentrators intend to continue to medical school — and the concentration incorporates many of the prerequisites for medical school — the interest in the relatively new field has increased substantially, according to Professor of Medical Science Barry Connors.

"Neuroscience is a relatively new field. It's generally become popular at all levels of education," Connors said. As a result, the program remains extremely interdisciplinary, as concentrators study elements of neurobiology, psychology, cognitive science, physics and mathematics, he said.

"Everyone is fascinated with why we do the things we do, and why we think the things we think," he said.

"The interdisciplinary nature of the department is perhaps one of the elements that make it so appealing to undergraduate students of all areas of study, Connors said.

The first-rate research conducted by neuroscience faculty provides students with first-hand experience that likely acts as incentive as well, Connors said. Unlike at other universities, the Brown neuroscience faculty spend more time teaching and advising undergraduate programs, he said, balancing this with research that gives students opportunities to work hand-in-hand with professors.

"I think there has always been a great commitment to undergraduate students," said

Professor of Medical Science Edward Hawrot. In classes like NEUR 0010: "The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience," the number and variety of students showing an interest in the subject have become evident, he said.

"As a faculty member," Connors said, "it's really great to see that wide spectrum of students."



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