Brain & Society

Interdisciplinary Themes

Bass Connections projects, courses and summer programs are aligned with the following themes:

Led by the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Many of the core problems of our time – climate change, financial crises, addiction, social inequality – arise from individuals and their choices. Brain research on cognition, emotions, expression and decision-making will be translated in this theme to address collective challenges and increase understanding of what makes us human. This is just one of several domains of research relating the exciting field of neuroscience to the contemporary challenges we face in the communities we inhabit and in the societies and culture we create.

Bass Connections in Brain & Society engages undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty from different programs and majors in an immersive curriculum that combines research and coursework into a common program of scholarship in multidisciplinary project teams.

Curricular and project elements build connections between basic research in neuroscience (and related biological sciences) and socially challenging questions in medicine, the humanities, public policy, economics, ethics and law, to understand issues such as physical and social responses to transformative events; the workings of the brain in rhetoric and the arts; memory in legal testimony; and the role of decision processes in shaping our institutions and public policies. Each Brain & Society team tackles a current issue relating to the brain and its link to society as a whole.

Brain & Society Project Teams

Sake wall.

This project team will develop and implement the Alcohol Use Behavioral Phenotyping Test (AUBPT) – a tool designed to understand differences among drinking behaviors – and assess its transcultural validity and feasibility in Tanzania.   Read more about Alcohol Use Behaviors across Countries and Cultures (2021-2022) »


This project team will examine brain structure and function in transgenic mice that develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, evaluate whether menopause accelerates cognitive decline and neuropathogenesis and assess whether chronic exercise can mitigate this risk. Read more about Alzheimer's Disease: Exercise Therapy and Brain Networks (2021-2022) »

fMRI Image of Preteen Brain.

This project team will explore a novel neural intervention method – neurofeedback – to investigate ingroup bias and alleviate racist tendency.   Read more about Decoded Neurofeedback Toward Bias and Racism Mitigation (2021-2022) »

DukeLine logo.

This project team will conduct a comprehensive review of existing peer mental health programs for graduate students across the U.S. in order to evaluate best practices for mental health service delivery and programming for graduate students. Read more about DukeLine: Peer Mental Health Support for Graduate Students (2021-2022) »

 Youth Football Poquoson Bulls Williamsburg Green Hornets PYFCO Mites Juniors Peninsula Virginia Va.

This project team will assess how head impact exposure may contribute to observable deficits in oculomotor response that can be tracked and used for diagnostic purposes.   Read more about Eye Tracking: Objective Assessment for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Youth Athletes (2021-2022) »

Diffusion tensor imaging of the brain.

Building on the work of previous teams, this project team will explore the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons who are involved in music and multilingualism in different communities and levels of interaction. Read more about Language, Music and Dementia (2021-2022) »

Durham County Justice Center in Durham, NC.

Building on previous work, this project team will analyze data to help Durham county stakeholders better understand mental health service utilization among the justice-involved population in Durham County.   Read more about Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County (2021-2022) »

Mulago National Referral Hospital Physiotherapy Department.

This project team will examine the role of physiotherapy in care transitions for Ugandan neurosurgical patients in order to improve patient outcomes and contribute to national rehabilitation sector strengthening. Read more about Role of Physiotherapy in Ugandan Neurosurgical Transitional Care (2021-2022) »

This eight-week summer program enables undergraduates to jumpstart their Graduation with Distinction senior theses by working one-on-one with faculty mentors. The full program is open only to rising juniors and seniors who are declared Neuroscience majors. Read more about Summer Neuroscience Program (2021) »

Mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

This project aims to advance research and development of the new gene therapy technologies that will be applicable to treating age-related brain diseases such as Late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and to examine their implications for society. Read more about Treating Alzheimer's with Gene Therapy and the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (2021-2022) »

Brain & Society Courses

Gateway Courses

NEUROSCI 102: Biological Bases of Behavior- Team-based Learning

Fall 2021
Instructor: Minna Ng

This course provides an introduction to the methods, models and reasoning that have led to discoveries about brain-behavior relations, and a critical evaluation of the current theories that guide our thinking about the neurobiology, the development and evolution of sensory and cognitive processes,... Read more about Biological Bases of Behavior- Team-based Learning »

NEUROSCI 153FS: Drugs and the Law

Fall 2021
Instructor: Nicole Schramm-Sapyta

This course will explore the relationship between addictive drugs and the law and examine mechanisms by which drugs of abuse affect the brain and decision-making on the individual level. The course will also investigate the consequences of those effects at the societal level and examine how society... Read more about Drugs and the Law »

WRITING 101-01, 101-02, 101-03: Collaborations in Neuroscience

Fall 2021
Instructor: Emily Parks

The genetic blueprint of a person can be sequenced in a single day thanks to the collaboration of thousands of scientists working on the Human Genome Project. Inspired by this success, the White House launched the BRAIN Initiative – another large collaboration tasked with uncovering the inner... Read more about Collaborations in Neuroscience »

Other Undergraduate Courses

PSY 340S-01: Educational Neuroscience

Spring 2021
Instructor: Minna Ng

This course offers an introduction to the emerging field of educational neuroscience. Read more about Educational Neuroscience »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

NEUROSCI 595: Language, Music and Dementia: Neuroscience Approaches

Spring 2021
Instructor: Edna Andrews

This course will explore the neuroscience data on cognitive processing of languages and music in healthy subjects and pathology. S Read more about Language, Music and Dementia: Neuroscience Approaches »