What is the molecular biology behind memory? Which genetic alterations make you more vulnerable to stress and depression? And which cellular targets can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease? If these questions intrigue you, the specialisation Fundamental Neuroscience might be what you are looking for. You’ll study the mechanisms that underlie psychological processes, as well as psychiatric and neurological disorders. The courses are organised along the mechanisms and disorders, and include practical training sessions in which you will acquire laboratory skills you’ll need to study them. You will also take several courses that focus on improving your academic skills, such as writing papers and research proposals. After you’ve completed the programme, you will have obtained all the knowledge and skills you need to embark on an academic career in fundamental neuroscience.
Why this programme?
The specialisation in Fundamental Neuroscience provides you with both a theoretical background and practical experience in research at the interface between psychology and biology. This specialisation takes brain cells as a starting point and uses knowledge from different neuroscience disciplines, such as molecular biology and behavioral testing, to study how the brain functions. The programme will give you an overview of the mechanisms that underlie psychological processes, as well as psychiatric and neurological disorders, and will provide you with the laboratory skills needed to conduct preclinical research into these disorders and mechanisms.
The specialisation provides an in-depth study of physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying psychological, psychiatric and neurological disorders, including affective, cognitive, and motor disorders. Within this context, you also study the role of the emerging field of pain and neuroinflammation. Core courses are organised along these mechanisms/disorders including practical trainings to acquire the necessary laboratory skills. Specific workshops provide additional technical knowledge.
You will be part of a multidisciplinary team of neuroscientists including biological psychologists, molecular biologists, neuropsychologists, neurobiologists, neuroanatomists, psychopharmacologists, psychiatrists and neuroimmunologists. These professionals participate in world-wide international networks of research in relevant fields at academia and industry. This offers excellent opportunities for internships at some of the world’s most prestigious institutes.
Teaching staff and research environment
The majority of the staff of Fundamental Neuroscience is connected to the division Neuroscience of the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNS) at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML). The main research topics include cell signalling, brain plasticity, neurodegeneration, regeneration, genetics, and epigenetics in a translational (i.e. involving both animal and human) setting. Brain cell anatomy and biochemistry can be studied in detail with the latest innovative techniques available. In addition, the latest genomic techniques are available to find (epi)genetic markers. The electrophysiology laboratory allows for electrical brain stimulation of rats, for example, and EEG recordings in freely moving animals. The behavioural lab meets up-to-date standards for the automated assessment of animal behaviour.
Courses & curriculum
The curriculum of the Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience is divided in two parts.
The first part focuses on a set of modules offering theoretical and practical research training, and covers the first year as well as the first eight weeks of the second year (for detailed module descriptions please scroll down). In each specialisation, you will participate in domain-specific intensive core courses covering important theories, models, and analytic approaches. Depending on the specialisation you choose, the courses will cover genetic, environmental, affective, cognitive and neurobiological processes underlying the human mind and behaviour, in health or disease. In addition, you will take advanced statistics courses and practical workshops that will allow you to develop your proficiency in general skills like data analysis, scientific writing, and data acquisition with methods and techniques specific for your chosen field.
The second part of the curriculum, occupying most of the second year, focuses on an internship in which data are collected that form the basis for your research master thesis. In the specialisations Psychopathology and Neuropsychology, you have the option to do an additional clinical internship, which also entails a smaller research project and minor thesis. Once enrolled in the Research Master, you will receive timely and detailed information on how to choose a thesis topic, how to approach potential supervisors, and how to choose a good host for the local or (inter)national internship. The curriculum as a whole corresponds to 120 European credit points.
You will be able to tailor some aspects of the curriculum to your specific interests, for example by choosing an elective outside the required curriculum of your specialisation. There are three types of electives: attending regular modules of another specialisation, writing a review paper, or assisting in an ongoing research project. In addition, to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the rich interdisciplinary connections linking cognitive and clinical neuroscience, the curriculum also includes a colloquium series, with interactive lectures by UM faculty as well as visiting national and international speakers. The research grant writing component of the curriculum entails a workshop at the end of year one and a core module at the beginning of year two, during which small groups of students from different specialisations work together to formulate an interdisciplinary research proposal. This primes you to think concretely about all aspects of doing research, which is an excellent preparation for the internship and thesis that follow.
See website www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/fpn/researchmaster
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