Double Major (B.Sc.) in Brain Sciences and Physics

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Double Major (B.Sc.) in Brain Sciences and Physics

The double major in brain sciences and physics is a unique program offered only at Bar-Ilan University. The main idea behind merging these two fields comes from information theory, which was developed by Claude Elwood Shannon in the 20th century.

The neuron or nerve cell can be seen as a channel that conveys data or information, whereas the brain is an enormous network of simple calculation units (bits) that transfer data one to another. This method of thinking enables us to use theories and concepts developed in information science and dynamic systems to gain insights into the brain, predict neurological activity, and measure models.

In recent decades, another bridge was built between theoretical physics and brain science in the form of network science. According to this theory, models of network connections, such as neural networks, are characterized by quantitative measurements that can be defined mathematically. Here  too, the exact formalization of physics facilitates a quantitative description of data transfer in the network and of the structural constraints involved in representing them. This leads to the creation of quantitative predictions and their study with numerical models in the biological neural system.

The purpose of the double B.Sc. major in brain science and physics is to develop theoretical and practical knowledge in these two interfacing realms, to mutually benefit each other and develop physical models inspired by neural calculations and vice versa.

Curriculum

The curriculum combines introductory and mandatory courses in brain science (biology, chemistry, cell neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, cognitive neuropsychology, to name a few), with core theoretical and practical courses in physics (statistical mechanics, electromagnetics, quantum physics, numerical analysis, and more).

The second and third years of the program have students already working in laboratories and in research groups investigating the brain and physics. The program combines hands-on work in laboratories with a practicum in brain sciences and in a physics laboratory.

Advanced courses in brain science (information theory, numerical approaches) and a seminar in physics complete the program, providing students with in-depth research knowledge and the ability to critique current research literature.

Students who successfully complete the undergraduate program can continue to the graduate program in brain sciences and physics at the Brain Research Center.