Nobel Advancements in Neurophysiology (PSYC 263, Graduate seminar)
We will explore the scientific achievement and historical context for each time the Nobel Prize was awarded within the field of neurophysiology. Each week we will read and discuss the Nobel lectures and seminal research papers from Nobel recipients. From the neuron doctrine to action potentials to visual processing and beyond, we will discuss the technological and biological insights that made each of these scientific breakthroughs possible.
How does the spiking activity of cortical neurons relate to animal behavior and cognition? In this course, we will read a series of papers that analyze single unit neural recordings from behaving animals and attempt to understand the relationships between neural activity and task performance. We will read foundational papers in primates, and more recent papers in mouse utilizing novel genetic and physiological tools. Additionally, we will read cognitive psychology and computational modeling papers, to gain insights into how to analyze behavior and probe neural circuit organization. Student presentations of these papers will focus on three main topics: 1) understanding and critiquing the behavioral design, 2) understand the neural recording methods and analyses and 3) considering possible neural circuit organizations linking neurons to behavior. Lecturing will be embedded within the discussions and based on specific topics in the research papers. Grading will be based on student presentations of assigned papers, class participation, two take-home exams and a final project.
Computational Neuroscience Laboratory: Introduction to Brain Modeling Techniques is a computational lab course that explores the mechanism of neural excitability and synaptic transmission, based on materials and simulations in Electrophysiology of the Neuron and MyFirstNEURON. The course is designed to provide students with hands-on experience in: (1) conducting computational experiments using standard software tools, (2) data collection and analyses of the modeling results, (3) writing research reports, and (4) giving oral presentations. No previous computing/programming knowledge is required.
Topics in Cognitive Neuroscience (PSYC 136, Undergraduate seminar)
In 1985, neurologist and author Oliver Sacks published his collection of case studies, titled “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales.” This extraordinary collection introduced a lay audience to the bizarre, distressing and inspiring worlds of individuals with neurologic and psychiatric disease. In this course, we will use these case studies to learn about specific neurologic and psychiatric diseases, and what these conditions can teach us about the nature of perception, behavior, memory and identity. Additionally, the case studies will be supplemented by readings and lectures on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology underlying normal and abnormal brain function. Each class, two students will be assigned as ‘discussion leaders’ to develop and lead a class discussion on a topic related to the readings. As a final project, each student will interview an individual who has experienced neuropsychiatric disease and write-up/present a novel case study. Students interested in neuroscience, psychology and/or medicine are encouraged to enroll.
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