Neuroscience and Behavior

At NIU, our Ph.D. program in neuroscience and behavior will prepare you to excel in research and teaching in academic, industry or other settings. You'll receive extensive training with respect to theory and research in neuroscience, the biological bases of behavior, and animal learning and motivation.

When you graduate, you'll be ready for a career in many sectors, including:

  • Academic research, teaching and administration.
  • Biomedical, pharmaceutical and other commercial industries.
  • Government 
  • Private industry consulting.


Our rigorous curriculum includes graduate coursework in biopsychology, learning/plasticity, neuroanatomy, neuropharmacology and research methodology. You'll be able to develop an individualized program that includes independent studies with faculty members. In addition to general graduate coursework, you can take courses such as:

  • PSYC 581: Drugs and Behavior
  • PSYC 603: Biopsychology
  • PSYC 670E: Studies in Experimental Psychology (seminars on topics such as motivation, learning, stress, neuropsychopharmacology and social neuroscience)

Research Opportunities

You'll have many opportunities to perform research. Our students regularly present at the following conferences:

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Experimental Biology
  • Midwestern Psychological Association
  • Chicago Society for Neuroscience
  • Animal Behavior Society
  • Animal Behavior Conference
  • Society for Social Neuroscience
  • International Society for Developmental Psychobiology

Areas of Interest

Our faculty members have a wide range of research interests, including:

  • Animal models of neurological, psychological and behavioral conditions (Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, ADHD, addiction, depression, anxiety, etc.).
  • Neural basis of cognition and spatial navigation.
  • Neural basis of reward and motivation.
  • Neural basis of stress and emotion.
  • Influence of stimulant drugs on behavior and the brain.
  • Social behavior and social stress.
  • Emotion-physiology interactions.

National Recognition

Our research has received national recognition and makes a valuable contribution to society. We've received grants for our research from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Both faculty members and students have won awards for their research, from NIU departments and the following organizations:

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Midwestern Psychological Association
  • International Society for Developmental Psychobiology
  • American Psychological Association

For more information please contact Doug Wallace, Ph.D. at 815-753-7071 or