Minor in Neural Computation


Neural computation is a scientific enterprise to understand the neural basis of intelligent behaviors from a computational perspective. Study of neural computation includes, among others, decoding neural activities using statistical and machine learning techniques, and developing computational theories and neural models of perception, cognition, motor control, decision-making and learning. The neural computation minor allows students to learn about the brain from multiple perspectives, and to acquire the necessary background for graduate study in neural computation. Students enrolled in the minor will be exposed to, and hopefully participate in, the research effort in neural computation and computational neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Minor in Neural Computation is an intercollege minor jointly sponsored by the School of Computer Science, the Mellon College of Science, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and is coordinated by the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).



Goal and Eligibility

The Neural computation minor is open to students in any major of any college at Carnegie Mellon. It seeks to attract undergraduate students from computer science, psychology, engineering, biology, statistics, physics, and mathematics from SCS, CIT, H&SS and MCS. The primary objective of the minor is to encourage students in biology and psychology to take computer science, engineering and mathematics courses on the one hand, and to encourage students in computer science, engineering, statistics and physics to take courses in neuroscience and psychology on the other, and to bring students from different disciplines together to form a community. The curriculum and course requirements are designed to maximize the participation of students from diverse academic disciplines. The program seeks to produce students with both basic computational skills and knowledge in cognitive science and neuroscience that are central to computational neuroscience.


Application

Students must apply for admission no later than November 30 of their senior years; an admission decision will usually be made within one month. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible in their undergraduate careers so that the director of the Neural Computation minor can provide advice on their curriculum, but should contact the program director any time even after the deadline.


To apply, send email to the director of the Neural Computation minor (Dr. Tai Sing Lee) tai@cnbc.cmu.edu and cc mstupka@cnbc.cmu.edu (Melissa Stupka). Include in your email:

  • Full name
  • Andrew ID
  • Preferred email address (if different)
  • Your class and College/School at Carnegie Mellon
  • Semester you intend to graduate
  • All (currently) declared majors and minors
  • Statement of purpose (maximum 1 page) - Describes why you want to take this minor and how it fits into your career goals
  • Proposed schedule of required courses for the Minor (this is your plan, NOT a commitment)
  • Research projects you might be interested in

Curriculum

The Minor in Neural Computation will require a total of five courses: four courses drawn from the four core areas (A: neural computation, B: neuroscience, C: cognitive psychology, D: intelligent system analysis), one from each area, and one additional depth elective chosen from one of the core areas that is outside the student's major. The depth elective can be replaced by a one-year research project in computational neuroscience. No more than two courses can be double counted toward the student's major or other minors. However, courses taken for general education requirements of the student's degree are not considered to be double counted. A course taken to satisfy one core area cannot be used to satisfy the course requirement for another core area. The following listing presents a set of current possible courses in each area. Other computational neuroscience courses are being developed at Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh that will also satisfy core area A requirement and the requirements will be updated as they come on-line. Substitution is possible but requires approval.

A. Neural Computation: 15-386 Neural Computation [9 units]
15-883 Computational models of neural systems [12 units]
85-419 Introduction to parallel distributed processing [9 units]
86-375/15-387 Computational Perception [9 units]
Pitt-Mathematics-1800 Introduction to mathematical neuroscience [9 units]
     
B. Neuroscience 03-362 Cellular neuroscience [9 units, F/S]
03-363 Systems neuroscience [9 units]
03-761 Neural plasticity. [9 units]
85-765 Cognitive neuroscience [12 units]
Pitt-Neuroscience 1000 Introduction to neuroscience [9 units]
Pitt-Neuroscience 1012 Neurophysiology [9 units]
     
C. Cognitive Psychology 85-211 Cognitive psychology [9 units ]
85-213 Human information processing and artificial intelligence [9 units]
85-412 Cognitive modeling [9 units]
85-419 Introduction to parallel distributed processing [9 units]
85-426 Learning in humans and machines [9 units]
85-765 Cognitive neuroscience [12 units]
     
D. Intelligent System Analysis 10-601 Machine learning [9 units ]
15-381 Artificial intelligence [9 units]
15-386 Neural Computation [9 units]
15-486 Artificial neural networks [9 units]
15-494 Cognitive robotics [9 units]
16-299 Introduction to feedback control systems [9 units]
16-311 Introduction to Robotics [9 units]
16-385 Computer vision [9 units]
18-290 Signals and systems [9 units]
24-352 Dynamic systems and control [9 units]
36-225 Introduction to probability and statistics [9 units]
36-247 Statistics for laboratory sciences [9 units]
36-401 Regression [9 units]
36-410 Introduction to Probability Models [9 units]
36-746 Statistical methods for neuroscience [9 units]
42-632 Neural Signal Processing [12 units]
86-375/15-387 Computational Perception [9 units]
86-631/42-631 Neural Data Analysis [9 units]
     


Prerequisites

The required courses in the above four core areas require a number of basic prerequisites: basic programming skills at the level of 15-110 (introductory/intermediate programming), and basic mathematical skills at the level of 21-122 (Integration, differential equations and approximation) or their equivalents. Some courses in Area D require additional prerequisites. Area B Biology courses require, at minimum, 03-121 (Modern Biology). Students might skip the prerequisites if they have the permission of the instructor to take the required courses. Prerequisite courses are typically taken to satisfy the students' major or other requirements. In the event that these basic skill courses are not part of the prerequisite or required courses of a student's major, one of them can potentially count toward the five required courses (e.g. the depth elective), conditioned on approval.


Research Requirements (Optional)

The minor itself does not require a research project. The student however may replace the depth elective with a year-long research project. In special circumstances, a research project can also be used to replace one of the five courses, as long as (1) the project is not required by the student's major or other minor, (2) the student has taken a course in each of the four core areas (not necessarily for the purpose of satisfying this minor's requirements), and (3) has taken at least three courses in this curriculum not counted toward the student's major or other minors. Students interested in participating in the research project should contact any faculty engaged in computational neuroscience or neural computation research at Carnegie Mellon or in the University of Pittsburgh. A useful webpage that provides listing of faculty in neural computation and computational neuroscience is http://www.cnbc.cmu.edu/cnbc-directory/ . The director of the Minor program will be happy to discuss with students about their research interest and direct them to the appropriate faculty.


Fellowship Opportunities

The Program in Neural Computation (PNC) administered by the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition currently provides 3-4 competitive full-year fellowship ($11000) to Carnegie Mellon undergraduate students to carry out mentored research in neural computation. The fellowship has course requirements similar to the requirements of the minor. Students do not apply to the fellowship program directly. They have to be nominated by the faculty members who are willing to mentor them. Therefore, students interested in the full-year fellowship program should contact and discuss research opportunities with any CNBC faculty at Carnegie Mellon or University of Pittsburgh working in the area of neural computation or comptuational neuroscience and ask for their nomination by sending email to Dr. Tai Sing Lee, who also administers the undergraduate fellowship program at Carnegie Mellon. See the link below for details.

Information on the requirements for the year-long PNC Undergraduate Research Fellowships.

The Program in Neural Computation also offers a summer training program for undergraduate students from any U.S. undergraduate college. The students will engage in a 10-week intense mentored research and attend a series of lectures in neural computation. See the link below for application information.

Information on the application for the the Undergraduate Summer Research Experience Program.


Aministrative Contacts

  • Director: Dr. Tai Sing Lee (tai@cnbc.cmu.edu)
  • Administrative coordinator: Melissa Stupka (mstupka@cnbc.cmu.edu)
  • Administrative consult: Catharine Fichtner (cathyf@cs.cmu.edu)
  • Liaison and undergraduate advisers in the different colleges for additional advice:
  • SCS: Dr. Mark Stehlik (mjs@cs.cmu.edu)
  • MCS: Dr. Amy Burkert (ak11@andrew.cmu.edu)
  • CIT: Dr. Kurt Larsen (klarsen@cmu.edu)
  • DC: Dr. Ken Kotovsky (kotovsky@andrew.cmu.edu)
Back to Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).

Last modified: July 30, 2013. Maintained by Dr. Tai Sing Lee at /home/httpd/www/upnc/nc_minor .