The fundamental mission of the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience is to enhance systems neuroscience across Washington University. The Systems Center encourages interdisciplinary approaches to improve our understanding of integrative functions of the brain in health and disease. To achieve these goals, the Systems Center supports investigator-initiated pilot projects and contributes to shared resources and programs that enhance systems neuroscience.

We define systems neuroscience research as having the following characteristics:

· The smallest units of inquiry are neurons. Studies of sub-cellular entities are more appropriate for the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience.
· A focus on neuronal circuits. Brain functions operate through circuits of interacting neurons. Relevant scales include cortical layers, mini-columns, brain nuclei, cortical areas, and large-scale networks.
· A focus on the relation between neurons and behavior. Relevant behaviors include but are not limited to perception, learning, memory, decision making, executive functions, spatial navigation, sleep, emotion, social behaviors, and motor control and can be studied in the normal or pathological nervous system.