Neuroscience club forms to create major, dispel myths

Olivia Exstrum, Assistant Campus Editor

A new student group focused on promoting a better understanding of neuroscience is working this year to make the discipline an undergraduate major at Northwestern.

Founded during Spring Quarter 2014, Northwestern University Neuro Club is currently in contact with administrators from the Weinberg School of Arts of Sciences to develop the new major for students in addition to furthering general neuroscience knowledge at NU.

President Nicholas Hug, a Communication sophomore, said the University has a neurobiology concentration, but that serves as only one part of neuroscience as a whole.

Neuroscience is not only the study of the brain but also a “merging point” for the fields of civics, chemistry, math and biology, McCormick junior Brendan Frick said.

Frick leads the club in reviewing scientific papers. He said the University offers programs in neurobiology, psychology and communication sciences and disorders, but a central neuroscience major would appeal to students who are unsure of what to study.

“It would be more attractive to students who don’t know what they want to do, but want to go into the field anyway,” Frick said. “(Neuroscience) is becoming the next frontier, because it’s very unexplored and it’s a place where all these sciences can be combined.”

The club, which is open to all students, began to take shape after Hug contacted neurobiology Prof. Catherine Woolley, he said.

“I was told (Woolley) was extremely passionate about undergraduate neuroscience research,” Hug said. “We found people who were passionate about the project and started sending out information.”

In addition to developing the new major, the club also works to dispel myths, such as the misconception that people only use 10 percent of their brains.

“(Some myths) get published frequently with a lot of conviction and trick people,” Hug said.

He said the club hopes to show people “how far we have to go to still understand our brains.”

In the spring, the club hosted a screening and a discussion of the neuroscience behind the 2010 film “Inception” and presented a lecture about perception as part of NU Splash!, a program for NU students to design and teach courses to Chicago-area high school students.

Vice President Tori Larsen, a Weinberg senior, said the club hopes to do more community outreach this year, including teaching neuroscience lessons at a local elementary school.

“Neuroscience is a very interdisciplinary field in itself and I want to make sure we make it so,” Larsen said. “It’s not just an engineering club or a science majors club. It’s for everybody.”

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