Graduate Studies - General Information
Understanding how the brain works is probably the greatest unsolved scientific puzzle of the 21st century. The key issues relate to the ways in which we organize information provided by the senses into a coherent perception, how we respond with motor actions and function successfully in this world, how we learn and store information, the mechanisms that create and regulate our feelings and desires, and how we are able to understand and use language. A great deal is known about these subjects, but very little about the brain mechanisms involved.
Understanding of these mechanisms can only be acquired through research associating a broad range of fields including physiology, pharmacology, psychology, biology, linguistics, mathematics, theoretical physics and computer science. The Multidisciplinary Gonda Brain Research Center and its teaching program in brain sciences have been set up for fulfilling this purpose.
The aim of this program is to train the next generation of researchers in brain sciences to carry out multi-disciplinary research.
General information about the program and available tracks
The Gonda Center for Multidisciplinary Brain Research at Bar-Ilan University offers programs of study toward master of science and doctoral degree in brain sciences. The program is geared for a selected group of outstanding students. They receive education in all areas connected with brain research and then carry out research work culminating in an M.Sc. or a Ph.D. degree. Varied options allow the students to specialize in different areas. The program encourages multidisciplinary discussions and exchanges between the students and the teachers. A small number of candidates with B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees are accepted to the program annually. Students receive scholarships, enabling them to devote themselves full time to their studies and research. The students' thesis research will be conducted under the supervision of one (or more) of the Gonda faculty members.
The center offers three tracks of training towards degrees in brain sciences:
1. M.Sc. track
3. Combined M.Sc. and Ph.D. track
General structure of the training program:
The training program builds on six single-semester core courses that all Ph.D. students are required to take, a set of preparatory courses, and a variety of optional courses. Students have to complete 8 credits in advanced courses.
In addition, students participate in a number of multi-disciplinary activities including a weekly research seminar, intensive study days, and two hands-on short-term research projects working side-by-side with the senior faculty of the center. Several advanced optional courses are available, allowing students to specialize in one of the three sub-fields:
1. Computational Neuroscience
2. Neurobiology and Behavior
3. Language and Cognition
Core required courses:
1. Theory of neural networks and computational learning (4+2hrs/week)
2. Signal and Data Analysis (4+4 hrs/week)
3. The neurochemical basis of brain processes (4hrs/week)
4. Neurophysiology (4hrs/week)
5. Brain and language (4hrs/week)
6. Normal and pathological cognitive processes (4hrs/week)
The program is designed in such a way that a student arriving with the appropriate background can complete the core courses in the first and second semesters of the first year and can submit a research proposal at the end of the first semester of the second year. A student without the appropriate background will complete the background study requirements by taking existing university courses, preparatory courses that were specially designed in the brain center, and guided reading during the first semester of the first year. Students can complete the core courses during the second semester of the first year and the first semester of the second year. Such a student will submit a research proposal at the end of the second semester of the second year of his/her studies. Successful candidates of the program are awarded a master or a doctoral scholarship for a period not exceeding two years (for M.Sc.) or four years (for Ph.D.). The doctoral scholarship is re-evaluated at the beginning of each year to assess the progress made in the research. Research proposals with advisors from different disciplines are encouraged.
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