CENTENNIAL, Colo. — James Holmes spent a year in a small neuroscience doctoral program, surrounded by scientists and roughly three dozen classmates delving into the inner workings of the brain.

The University of Colorado, Denver, isn't saying if they had any warning signs.

Experts say, however, the intimacy of the program and its focus on the brain may not have been enough for staff and students to detect that Holmes was on a course that police say ended with a deadly rampage at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

Supported by a prestigious federal grant, Holmes, 24, was in the first year of a program at the Anschutz Medical Campus dedicated to neuroscience, studying such topics as how the brain works or malfunctions or helping develop drugs to treat epilepsy and other disorders.

But it is not behavioral science or psychology, experts say.

David Eagleman, who runs the Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law at Baylor University, said some neuroscientists are experts in mental illnesses and aberrant behavior, but others spend most of their time studying molecular chemistry.

"It's really only a fraction of professors" who could identify a simmering mental disorder, Eagleman said. "Many people in neuroscience are not specialized in the issue of picking up mental illness ... There are plenty of people who just study mice and cats and stuff like that."

Holmes is accused of methodically stockpiling weapons and explosives at work and at home that police say he used to kill 12 people and wound 58 more at a movie theater Friday in nearby Aurora. Police say he also booby-trapped his apartment with the intent to kill police officers.

Holmes' arraignment hearing is on Monday.

Attention continued to focus on victims of the attack and their grieving families, many of whom turned on Tuesday to the grim task of preparing for funerals. Batman star Christian Bale visited survivors of the shooting and stopped by a makeshift memorial to victims near the movie theater where they were shot.

Authorities say Holmes began shopping for firearms while studying neuroscience. He joined the program in June 2011 after receiving a National Institutes of Health grant to cover his tuition and provide a $26,000 annual living allowance.

The school refuses to say what specifically Holmes studied. But an online syllabus listed him as making a presentation in May during a class called "Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders."

In early June, Holmes took a standard oral exam that ends a graduate student's first year. The school will not say whether he passed, but Holmes filed paperwork to withdraw from the program just days later. He never provided a written explanation for his departure.

"He had, as is now common knowledge, excellent academic credentials," said Barry Shur, dean of the university's graduate program.

Shur said the graduate program is "like a family" in which faculty carefully monitor students' progress.

"It would be a logical step to assume there were people in that program who worked closely with him and would have the expertise to assess his behavior," said Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former FBI profiler and the author of the book "Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us."

"But being able to recognize concerning, troubling behavior does not mean you can prevent a mass homicide," O'Toole said. "There are many people at a university level who act quirky and strange and don't go out and commit mass murder."

Academics studying the human brain may not have the same ability to size up threats as someone who makes his living spending time with people firing guns, O'Toole said.

Glenn Rotkovich, owner of a private Colorado gun range outside Denver, quickly concluded there was something wrong with Holmes.

Holmes applied to join the range in late June. But Rotkovich said that after calling Holmes back and hearing a "bizarre" voice mail message – spoken in a strange, low-pitched voice with heavy breathing – he concluded he didn't want Holmes as a member.

"I flagged him to people and said, if he shows up, I don't trust him," Rotkovich said.

Holmes apparently never went to the range.

The university's silence on the year Holmes spent there contributed to the mystery surrounding his motivations. Administrators refuse to say whether faculty or students saw signs of dangerous behavior in Holmes. Campus police said they had no information on Holmes before the attack.

Holmes remained in solitary confinement Tuesday in Arapahoe County jail, a day after appearing bleary-eyed and disoriented in his initial court appearance. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Working to build their case, a team of lawyers from the district attorney's office spent about 90 minutes inside the movie multiplex where the shooting occurred. Crews were starting to encircle the building with a chain link fence while people continued to flock to a memorial nearby for the victims.

Relatives of those who died were bracing for a string of funeral services, the first of which – for Gordon Cowden, the oldest of those killed – was planned for Wednesday. Meanwhile, a woman whose husband remains in a coma after being shot in the head gave birth to a healthy baby boy in the same hospital Tuesday.

A profile for a man whose name and appearance matched Holmes has been removed from a dating website. Match.com spokesman Matthew Traub on Tuesday confirmed reports on TMZ.com and elsewhere that the profile was posted before the movie theater massacre. Traub would not comment on whether Match.com believes Holmes actually posted the profile.

The profile included the question, "Will you visit me in prison?" and said, "I spend a lot of time thinking about the future, mind (equals) blown."

The profile photo showed a man whose hair is reddish orange, similar to Holmes' hair when he appeared in court Monday.

New details emerged about the night of the shooting.

Clad in head-to-toe combat gear, Holmes allegedly burst into a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," tossed gas canisters into the crowd and opened fire. Friends Stephanie Davies and Allie Young, who attended, said the gunman moved around the room yelling and seemingly targeting people.

"He would shout, `What are you doing? I said stand up!' And he would pick people up. I saw him stand over someone. I just see hair and him holding the shirt and `boom,'" said Davies, 21.

Outside Colorado, men accused of making threats during or after other screenings of the Batman film have been arrested in separate incidents in Maine, Arizona and Southern California, underscoring moviegoers' anxieties about security.

In Colorado, the shooting has prompted a sudden surge in gun sales.

In three days, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm. That was 25 percent greater than the average Friday-to-Sunday period in 2012, and 43 percent greater than the same period the week prior.

In Arizona, Jeff Serdy, owner of A.J.I. Sporting Goods in Apache Junction, estimated he saw up to 40 percent more traffic than usual in the two days after the killings.

"I looked out on the floor and said to myself, `Whoa, look at all these people,'" Serdy said, noting many customers expressed concern that lawmakers may use the shooting to try to pass gun restrictions. Political analysts say there is little appetite in Congress for such laws.

GALLERY: JAMES EAGAN HOLMES
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  • James E. Holmes

    James E. Holmes, left, appears in Arapahoe County District Court, with defense attorney Tamara Brady, right, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting on Friday, July 20, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes, Tamara Brady

    People in the courtroom listen to the court hearing of James E. Holmes in Arapahoe County District Court Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 in a shooting rampage in a Colorado theater on Friday, July 20. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes

    James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting last Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • In this image taken from video provided by KUSA.com, James Holmes, left, the suspected gunman in Friday's Colorado theater massacre, makes his first appearance in court with his attorney Tamara Brady in Centennial, Colo. on Monday, July 23, 2012. (AP Photo/KUSA.com)

  • Carol Chambers

    Carol Chambers, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, speaks during a media availability after a court appearance by James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Courthouse, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured in a shooting attack early Friday at a packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have identified the suspected shooter as Holmes, 24. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • James E. Holmes, Tamara Brady

    James E. Holmes, center, appears in Arapahoe County District Court, with public defenders Tamara Brady, right, and Daniel King Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 in a shooting rampage in a movie theater on Friday, July 20 in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes

    James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting Friday, July 20, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • David Sanchez

    David Sanchez, whose son-in-law was critically wounded, speaks after a court appearance by shooting suspect James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Courthouse, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured in the shooting attack early Friday at an Aurora, Colo., theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Family members of a victim from last week's theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., link hands as they arrive for a court appearance by shooting suspect James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Courthouse, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured in the shooting attack early Friday at the packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • A woman, third from left, is led to the courtroom where James Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is the suspect in the mass shooting last Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Anggiat Situmeang,

    Anggiat Situmeang, center, who suffered an injury in last week's theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., is helped inside to see a court appearance by alleged shooter James Holmes, at the Arapahoe County Courthouse Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • James E. Holmes

    Assistant District attorney Karen Pearson speaks at a hearing for James E. Holmes in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting last Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes

    James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting last Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes

    James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting last Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes

    James E. Holmes, left, appears in Arapahoe County District Court, with defense attorney Tamara Brady, right, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting on Friday, July 20, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

  • James E. Holmes

    District Court Judge William Blair Sylvester speaks as James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting last Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)