Courses

NSCI 201(F)Neuroscience

A study of the relationship between brain, mind, and behavior. Topics include a survey of the structure and function of the nervous system, basic neurophysiology, development, learning and memory, sensory and motor systems, consciousness and clinical disorders such as schizophrenia, spinal cord inury, Parkinson's disease, and addiction. The laboratory focuses on current topics in neuroscience. [ more ]

Taught by: Heather Williams, Lauren Williamson

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NSCI 204(S)Animal Behavior

Making sense of what we see while watching animals closely is both an enthralling pastime and a discipline that draws on many aspects of biology. Explanations can be found on many levels: evolutionary theory tells us why certain patterns have come to exist, molecular biology can help us understand how those patterns are implemented, neuroscience gives insights as to how the world appears to the behaving animal, endocrinology provides information on how suites of behaviors are regulated. The first part of the course focuses upon how descriptive studies provide the basis for formulating questions about behavior as well as the statistical methods used to evaluate the answers to these questions. We then consider the behavior of individuals, both as it is mediated by biological mechanisms and as it appears from an evolutionary perspective. The second half of the course is primarily concerned with the behaviors of groups of animals from a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species, concentrating upon the stimuli, responses, and internal mechanisms that maintain social systems and on the selection pressures that drive animals toward a particular social system. [ more ]

NSCI 209 TAnimal Communication

Not offered this year

Animal communication systems come in as many varieties as the species that use them. What they have in common are a sender that encodes information into a physical signal and a receiver that senses the signal, extracts the information, and adjusts its subsequent behavior accordingly. This tutorial will consider all aspects of communication, using different animal systems to explore different aspects of the biology of signaling. Topics will include the use of syntax to carry meaning in chickadee calls, the "piracy" of signaling system by fireflies, statements of identity and affiliation in the form of toothed whales' signature whistles, long-distance chemical attractants that allow male moths to find the object of their desire, and cultural evolution within learned signaling systems. [ more ]

NSCI 304Neurobiology

Not offered this year

This course is concerned with understanding the biology of the nervous system, focusing primarily on the cellular bases of neuronal function. Lectures will cover such topics as nerve resting and action potentials, ion channels, neurotransmitters and synapses, and the neural correlates of behavior in organisms with simple nervous systems. Reading original research papers and discussing them constitutes an important part of the course. Some of the topics that may be covered include: transmitter release mechanisms, ion permeation through channels, plasticity in the nervous system, and various clinical disorders. Laboratories are designed to introduce the students to modern techniques in neurobiology including extracellular and intracellular recording, histochemistry, and immunohistochemistry. [ more ]

NSCI 310Neural Development and Plasticity

Not offered this year

Development can be seen as a tradeoff between genetically-determined processes and environmental stimuli. The tension between these two inputs is particularly apparent in the developing nervous system, where many events must be predetermined, and where plasticity, or altered outcomes in response to environmental conditions, is also essential. Plasticity is reduced as development and differentiation proceed, and the potential for regeneration after injury or disease in adults is limited; however some exceptions to this rule exist, and recent data suggest that the nervous system is not hard-wired as previously thought. In this course we will discuss the mechanisms governing nervous system development, from relatively simple nervous systems such as that of the fruitfly, to the more complicated nervous systems of humans, examining the roles played by genetically specified programs and non-genetic influences. [ more ]

NSCI 311(F)Neural Systems and Circuits

This course will examine the functional organization of the vertebrate brain, emphasizing both neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. How do specific populations of neurons and their connections analyze sensory information, form perceptions of the external and internal environment, make cognitive decisions, and execute movements? How does the brain produce feelings of reward/motivation and aversion/pain? How does the brain regulate homeostatic functions such as sleep, food intake, and thirst? We will explore these questions using a holistic, integrative approach, considering molecular/cellular mechanisms, physiological characterizations of neurons, and connectivity among brain systems. Laboratory sessions will provide experience in examining macroscopic and microscopic neural structures, as well as performing experiments to elucidate the structure and function of neural systems using classical and cutting-edge techniques. [ more ]

NSCI 312(S)Brain, Behavior, and the Immune System

In all animals, the immune system is the body's defense against the outside world. Immune function is strongly influenced by environmental and behavioral experiences, and the immune system has a dynamic relationship with the brain. We will study the interactions among the brain, behavior, and the immune system in models of health and disease. Specific topics to be examined include: immune cells and their signaling molecules, immune cells within the brain, sickness behaviors, learning and memory, nervous system development, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and nervous system injury and repair. Students will critically review data from both human and animal studies. All students will design and conduct an empirical research project as part of a small research team. [ more ]

Taught by: Lauren Williamson

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NSCI 315Hormones and Behavior

Not offered this year

In all animals, hormones are essential for the coordination of basic functions such as development and reproduction. This course studies the dynamic relationship between hormones and behavior. We will review the mechanisms by which hormones act in the nervous system. We will also investigate the complex interactions between hormones and behavior. Specific topics to be examined include: sexual differentiation; reproductive and parental behaviors; stress; aggression; and learning and memory. Students will critically review data from both human and animal studies. All students will design and conduct an empirical research project as part of a small research team. [ more ]

NSCI 316(F)Clinical Neuroscience

Diagnosing and treating neurological diseases is the final frontier of medicine. Recent advances in neuroscience have had a profound impact on the understanding of diseases that affect cognition, behavior, and emotion. This course provides an in-depth analysis of the relationship between brain dysfunction and disease state. We will focus on neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease. We will consider diagnosis of disease, treatment strategies, as well as social and ethical issues. The course provides students with the opportunity to present material based upon: (1) review of published literature, (2) analysis of case histories, and (3) observations of diagnosis and treatment of patients both live and on videotape. All students will design and conduct an empirical research project. [ more ]

NSCI 317 T(S)Nature via Nurture: Topics in Developmental Psychobiology

Do your genes determine who you are? This course examines the relative contributions of nature (genetics) and nurture (the environment) that lead to individual differences in behavior. Modern neuroscience techniques have discovered new relationships between genes and behavior. Conversely, recent studies on the effects of social factors suggest critical environmental influences on the expression of these genetic determinants. This tutorial will explore the theoretical and empirical issues in animal models of behavioral epigenetics. Topics include child neglect, antisocial behavior, addiction, anxiety, risk-taking, empathy, and depression. Each tutorial pair will design and conduct an empirical laboratory project that will explore their own experimental question about the interaction of genes and environment in determining behavioral phenotypes. [ more ]

NSCI 318Image, Imaging, and Imagining: The Brain and Visual Arts

Not offered this year

This course will study the intersections of neuroscience and art. The brain interprets the visual world and generates cognitive and emotional responses to what the eyes see. It is also responsible for creating mental images and then directing the artist's motor output. We will first examine the neural mechanisms of how we perceive what we see. We will investigate how visual artists have used or challenged perceptual cues in their work. Understanding how the brain perceives faces will be used to analyze portraiture. We will consider the influence of neurological and psychological disorders on artistic work. We will examine neuroimaging studies questioning whether the brains of visual artists are specialized differently from non-artists. Finally, we will explore how contemporary artists are using brain images in their artwork, and how "outsider" artists have portrayed brain syndromes and mental states. Students will create their own artwork in response to the course material, culminating in a class exhibit. The class will include field trips to local museums. [ more ]

NSCI 347Neurobiology of Emotion

Not offered this year

Emotion is influenced and governed by a number of neural circuits and substrates, and emotional states can be influenced by experience, memory, cognition, and many external stimuli. We will read and discuss articles about mammalian neuroanatomy associated with emotion as defined by classic lesion studies, pharmacology, electrophysiology, fMRI imaging, knockout mouse studies, as well as new opti-genetic methods for investigating neural circuit function in order to gain an understanding of the central circuits and neurotransmitter systems that are implicated in emotional processing and mood disorders. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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NSCI 401(S)Topics in Neuroscience

Neuroscientists explore issues inherent in the study of brain and behavior. The overall objective of this seminar is to create a culminating senior experience in which previous course work in specific areas in the Neuroscience Program can be brought to bear in a synthetic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding complex problems. The specific goals for students in this seminar are to evaluate original research and critically examine the experimental evidence for theoretical issues in the discipline. Topics and instructional formats will vary somewhat from year to year, but in all cases the course will emphasize an integrative approach in which students will be asked to consider topics from a range of perspectives including molecular, cellular, systems, behavioral and clinical neuroscience. Previous topics have included autism, depression, stress, neurogenesis, novel neuromodulators, retrograde messengers, synaptic plasticity, and learning and memory. [ more ]

Taught by: Lauren Williamson

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NSCI 493(F)Senior Thesis: Neuroscience

Neuroscience senior thesis. Independent research for two semesters and a winter study under the guidance of one or more neuroscience faculty. After reviewing the literature in a specialized field of neuroscience, students design and conduct an original research project, the results of which are reported in a thesis. Senior thesis work is supervised by the faculty participating in the program. [ more ]

NSCI 494(S)Senior Thesis: Neuroscience

Neuroscience senior thesis. Independent research for two semesters and a winter study under the guidance of one or more neuroscience faculty. After reviewing the literature in a specialized field of neuroscience, students design and conduct an original research project, the results of which are reported in a thesis. Senior thesis work is supervised by the faculty participating in the program. [ more ]