NEUR200: Introduction to Neuroscience
A major goal of NEUR 200 is to immerse students in the excitement of neuroscience by giving them the basic tools with which to appreciate our growing understanding of normal and abnormal nervous system function. The course is divided into thirds. The first third focuses on introducing “the basics” including the structure of the nervous system and how neurons communicate with one another. Close attention is given to understanding communication through synapses and neurotransmitters, and using the abnormalities in schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease to help us understand the normal mechanisms. The second third of the course explores how the nervous system gathers and interprets information from the external world. Examples are given through touch, pain, visual processing, and how the brain uses sensory information to control movement. The final third covers memory as a form of plasticity, how the nervous system develops and changes across the lifespan, compensating for damage along the way. The topic of sleep is utilized as a way to pull together many of the major principles of CNS function. Throughout the course, the impact of neuroscience on society as well as the effects of societal norms and policies on neuroscience research are also discussed.
Recommended Textbook: Behavioral Neuroscience, Ninth Edition (2019) by Breedlove and Watson, Oxford University Press
NEUR305: Neural Systems and Circuits
Understanding how our brains are able to execute complex behaviors and the range of experiences we deem as consciousness is one of the main challenges of modern neuroscience. NEUR 305 delves into the anatomical and functional circuits that give rise to perception, planned action, and thought, emphasizing the cortical mechanisms involved. Topics covered include, the visual system, through the ‘what’ and ‘where’ pathways, as well as object identification and attention, motor pathways, basal ganglia and cerebellar circuits, language, memory, spatial navigation and cognitive control. Throughout the course, experimental and analytical techniques are discussed, and students are asked to interpret and critique primary literature. Students are encouraged to relate course content to their own life, society and culture through four reflection assignments and a final project.
Recommended Textbook (supplemented with open source educational material):
Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind, Fifth Edition (2018) by Gazzaniga et al., W. W. Norton & Company
NEUR306: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
NEUR306 provides an in-depth overview of the nervous system organization and function at the molecular and cellular level, with an emphasis on classical experiments and their breakthroughs. Through the course, students are expected to be able to: (1) Describe elements that govern the electrical properties of neurons including resting membrane potential and action potentials. (2) Describe processes involved in synaptic transmission. (3) Describe components of signal transduction cascades and their various roles in synaptic transmission, intracellular signal amplification, and plasticity. (4) Apply knowledge of ion channels, synaptic transmission, and plasticity to explain how sensory stimuli are transduced and processed in the nervous system. (5) Describe and differentiate between techniques for studying cellular and molecular neuroscience (e.g. various neuro-staining and brain imaging techniques; sharp-electrode, voltage-clamp, and patch-clamp recordings; x-ray crystallography; optogenetics). Students are expected to read the assigned chapters before lecture, attend lecture, and finish an associated quiz each week. Companion worksheet activities with guiding questions that connect textbook concepts to real-world applications will be provided; students are expected to complete the worksheets and actively participate in group discussions.
Textbook: Neuroscience, Sixth Edition (2018) by Purves, et al., Oxford University Press
NEUR405: Neuroscience Laboratory
The goal of NEUR405 is to provide students with an extensive hands-on experience that will illuminate the marvelous nature of the nervous system, allow them to experience the research process, reinforce principles learned in previous coursework, and strengthen scientific communication skills. The course progresses through a series of five or six modules in all. For the final module students are given experimental protocols to follow in order to examine a neuroscience principle using both electrophysiological techniques and modeling; students use the information they have learned to propose, carry-out, and present an independent project that involves neurophysiology, modeling, and literature review. Upon completion of the course students will have: (1) Designed and carried-out a neurophysiological experiment. This includes hypothesis generation, proper use of controls, use of appropriate techniques, prediction of results, data analysis, data interpretation, and hypothesis evaluation. (2) Demonstrated proficiency in the neurophysiological techniques used in the lab, including intra- and extra-cellular recordings and troubleshooting techniques. (3) Used modeling to demonstrate the understanding of simple circuits and make hypotheses from these models. (4) Demonstrated proficiency in scientific writing and presentation skills, including formatting of report sections, graph selection and formatting, and incorporation of scientific literature into their writing. (5) Strengthen their teamwork skills.
Textbook: Crawdad: An Online Lab Manual for Neurophysiology (2011) by Wyttenbach, et al., Oxford University Press
A Short Guide for Writing About Biology, 7, 8, or 9th Edition by Pechenik, Pearson