Required and Elective Coursework for NGG Students

NGG Required Courses

BIOM 600 NGG CORE I: Cell Biology

BIOM 600 NGG Core I: Cell Biology. This course is required for all BGS students. It covers basic biochemistry and surveys topics of cell biology including: cell structure, compartmentalization and trafficking, signal transduction, cytoskeleton, membranes and membrane transport. Offered Fall semester. Course Director:  Richard Assoian


NGG 572 CORE II: Electrical Language of Cells

NGG 572 CORE II: Electrical Language of CellsThis course introduces students to the high-speed electro-chemical signaling mechanisms that occur in nerve and other excitable cells during normal activity. Topics considered in substantial detail include: a) a basic description of the passive and active membrane electrical properties; b) the molecular architecture and functional role of ion channels in cell signaling; c) the role of the calcium ion as an ubiquitous chemical messenger, with applications to neuro-secretion; d) excitatory and inhibitory transmission in the central nervous system; e) sensory transduction, as illustrated by the visual, olfactory and auditory pathways. The course assumes a standard background in cell biology, as well as basic concepts from college physics and college calculus. Offered Fall semester. Course DirectorsDoug Coulter and Toshi Hoshi


NGG 573 CORE III: Systems Neuroscience

NGG 573 CORE III: Systems and Integrative Neuroscience. This course provides an introduction to what is known about how neuronal circuits solve problems for the organism and to current research approaches to this question. Topics include: vision, audition, olfaction, motor systems, plasticity, and oscillations. In addition, the course aims to provide an overview of the structure of the central nervous system. A number of fundamental concepts are also discussed across topics, such as: lateral inhibition, integration, filtering, frames of reference, error signals, adaptation. The course format consists of lectures, discussions, readings of primary literature, supplemented by textbook chapters and review articles. Offered Spring semester. Course DirectorsFranz Weber and Maria Geffen.


NGG CORE IV: Seminar-Related Journal Club

NGG CORE IV: Seminar-Related Journal Club. The goals of this weekly course are to learn how to read and critique research papers; to learn how to present a polished, professional summary of a recent paper, and to acquire some background information and context to more fully appreciate research seminars in the Wednesday MINS seminar series. Each Monday session will consist of two 25-minute presentations of a research paper related to that week’s Wednesday seminar. Each presentation will be followed by a student-led discussion (~15 minutes).   Each Wednesday session consists of attending the one-hour formal MINS seminar by faculty invited from other institutions to speak about their work, published and unpublished.  Attendance at both the Monday and Wednesday sessions is required. Papers are posted on the web at the Neuroscience Journal Club site. Each student who is not presenting is required to read and be prepared to discuss each of the two papers assigned weekly. Following the first class, subsequent presentations will be by first year students. You will sign up for presentations and lunch with the seminar speakers at the first Journal Club session. A faculty mentor will help presenters read and understand the assigned papers and prepare a power point presentation.  Presenters should meet with their mentors at least twice to discuss the papers and polish the presentations. The schedule of Journal Club presenters is posted on the Neuroscience Journal Club website. Course Directors (Fall 2019)Sandra Maday and Gregory Corder.

Note: A seminar schedule and papers are posted at the following link: Journal Club Papers


NGG STAT Course - Quantitative Neuroscience Core

All BGS students are required to complete a statistics course.  

NGG STAT Course This course is designed to be an overview of quantitative approaches used for rigorous and reproducible neuroscience research. This course does not cover statistics in a traditional way, in the sense that we will not provide a comprehensive survey of statistical tests, nor will we dive very deeply into formal mathematical derivations of those tests (information about such things can be found in textbooks and all over the web). Instead, we will focus on teaching you to apply quantitative approaches to your thinking about neuroscience research from beginning to end, including defining clear hypotheses; designing experiments to test those hypotheses; then collecting, visualizing, analyzing, and interpreting data in reference to those hypotheses. There are two main components to the course. The first component consists of a series of four modules, each of which is designed to use a specific example from neuroscience to illustrate a set of quantitative approaches and tools. The second component consists of group projects that focus on designing and implementing quantitative analyses for existing data sets (e.g., from your rotation project).

All BGS students are required to complete a statistics course.  NGG is in the process of developing a course specific to NGG students that will be offered spring semester of the first year.  More info to come.


NGG 695-301: Scientific Writing

NGG 695-301: Scientific Writing. This course is designed to help students through the process of preparing the written portion of the Candidacy Exam, which is a reseach proposal written as an Individual Predoctoral NRSA Fellowship application. Eligible students are required to submit the proposal as an NRSA applicaiton upon successful completion of the Exam. The course includes: i) a mock study section, to familiarize students with the peer-review process; ii) overviews and peer critiques of Specific Aims, Significance, and Research Strategy sections of the document; and iii) discussions of how to make effective figures. Course Directors: Joshua Gold and Harry Ischiropoulos.


Independent Study

Independent Study as Elective

See NGG Canvas for sample Independent Study Syllabi


NGG Elective Courses - Fall 2019

NGG 597: Neural Development, Regeneration and Repair

Offered Fall Every Year

NGG 597 Neural Development, Regeneration and Repair The goals of this course are to examine the principles underlying nervous system development and to learn how understanding developmental mechanisms can inform strategies to promote regeneration and repair. This is not a survey course. Rather, the course will focus on selected topics, for which we will discuss the genetic, molecular and cellular strategies employed to study these problems in different model organisms. Emphasis is on how to interpret and critically evaluate experimental data.Each class is 1.5 hours in length. During the first hour, an assigned paper will be discussed in detail. During the last 20-30 minutes, faculty will introduce methods, concepts, and background information pertinent to the paper that will be discussed at the following meeting. Course Directors: Greg Bashaw and Yuanquan Song.


NGG 713: Neuroepigenetics

New Course for Fall 2019

Course description needed here.


NGG Elective Courses - Spring

NGG 521: Brain Computer Interface

NGG 521: Brain Computer Interface. This course will provide practical education in engineering technologies used to monitor and modulate the nervous system and their translation into clinical devices. Fundamental concepts in neurosignals, hardware and software will be reinforced by practical examples and in-depth study of three neurodevice platforms over the course of the semester: (1) localization of epileptic networks with intracranial electrodes, and modulation of these circuits with responsive brain stimulation (2) localization and stimulation of thalamic nuclei for treatment of movement disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease), (3) systems for evoked-potential driven computer-guided communication for quadraplegic patients. Basic background in neurosignals will be provided, spanning scales from single neurons to large-scale field potentials, and across modalities from electrophysiology to optical and chemical recording. Algorithms for extracting, classifying, and modulating neurosignals will be covered, along with strategies for reducing them to practice on implantable computational platforms. Finally, some appreciation for hardware implemented in clinical systems will be given, along with their limitations and major design considerations. By the end of the course students will be able to design and implement a scaled-down brain-computer interface device in computer software simulations, and understand basic concepts involved in its implementation and approval. Course DirectorBrian Litt 

Offered Spring Every Year


NGG 588: Topics in Translational Neuroscience

NGG 588 Topics in Translational Neuroscience. This course will introduce graduate students in neuroscience and related disciplines to basic mechanisms and clinical features of major categories of nervous system disease. Each two-hour class will consist of two parts; a formal lecture followed by a seminar on the same topic. The formal basic science lectures will discuss genetic, molecular, physiological and cellular mechanisms relevant to the disease examined while the seminar will illustrate how that information can be used in the clinical setting to promote further discovery and inform treatment. Some of the seminars will be associated with the Clinical Neuroscience Training Program (CNST) to provide the opportunity to interact with medical students and clinicians. The course will rely on assigned readings of primary research papers and discussions during class. Course Director: Mariella De Biasi

Offered Spring Every Year


NGG 594: Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

NGG 594:  Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience. This course will develop theoretical and computational approaches to structural and functional organization in the brain. The course will cover: (i) the basic biophysics of neural responses, (ii) neural coding and decoding with an emphasis on sensory systems, (iii) approaches to the study of networks of neurons, (iv) models of adaptation, learning and memory, (v) models of decision making, and (vi) ideas that address why the brain is organized the way that it is. The course will be appropriate for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students. A knowledge of multivariable calculus, linear algebra and differential equations is required (except by permission of the instructor). Prior exposure to neuroscience and/or Matlab programming will be helpful. Course Director: Vijay Balasubramanian

Offered Spring Every Year

This course surveys recent theoretical models of neural function. Students will be introduced to the basic techniques of modelling and computer simulation. Topics include models of synaptic plasticity, neuronal processing and oscillations, and models of various brain regions including cortex, thalamus, cerebellum, and hippocampus. Particular emphasis will be placed on models of the visual system from development to perceptual phenomena such as structure-from-motion, shape-from-shading, and stereopsis. Higher level processes including cortical integreation will be considered. Applied neural network models of Hopfield, Sejnowski, and parallel distributed processing will also be presented.. Course DirectorVijay Balasubramanian


NGG 510: Neurotransmitter Signaling & Neuropsychopharmacology

NGG 510 Neurotransmitter Signaling & Neuropsychopharmacology

The goals of this course are three-fold:

1) Provide an overview of major psychiatric disorders.

2) Provide in-depth information on neurotransmitters, emphasizing the wealth of new molecular information on how neurons function and communicate, as well as the basis for psychotherapeutics (one class per week).

3) Develop skills to appreciate, present and critically evaluate the current literature in neurotransmitter signaling and neuropsychopharmacology (one class per week).

Course DirectorsSteve ThomasWade Berrettini and Liz Heller

This class has merged with NGG 576/Advanced Topics in Neuropsychopharmacology

Offered Spring of Even Years

This class has merged with NGG 576/Advanced Topics in Neuropsychopharmacology with the first offering of the merged classes to occur Spring 2018.


NGG 618: Recovery After Neural Injury

Offered Spring Odd Years

The human nervous system is subject to several types of injury, (traumatic, ischemic, epileptic, demyelinating, and/or inflammatory, etc.) that cause serious functional deficits. The mechanisms used by the central and peripheral nervous systems for functional recovery from these injuries will be described in this course. The molecular and cellular pathobiology of CNS injury will be reviewed and methods to enhance functional recovery will be discussed in detail. These include the limitation of secondary neuronal damage by pharmacological manipulation (neuroprotection), the promotion of regeneration and plasticity, the application of bioengineering strategies, and the use of behavioral rehabilitative approaches. The course format is a combination of lecture, journal club style student presentations and classroom discussion.Course Directors: Akiva Cohen and D. Kacy Cullen.


NGG Electives with Sporadic/Uncertain Schedules

NGG 615: Protein Conformational Diseases

This course may potentially be offered Fall 2019.  Please contact Yair Argon for more information.

NGG 615 Protein Conformational Diseases Protein misfolding and aggregation has been associated with over 40 human diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, prion diseases, alpha(1)-antitrypsin deficiency, inclusion body myopathy, and systemic amyloidoses. This course will include lectures, directed readings and student presentations to cover seminal and current papers on the cell biology of conformational diseases including topics such as protein folding and misfolding, protein degradation pathways, effects of protein aggregation on cell function, model systems to study protein aggregation and novel approaches to prevent protein aggregation. Course Director: Yair Argon


NGG 575: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

NGG 575 (BIOL 442) Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. This course focuses on the current state of our knowledge about the neurobiological basis of learning and memory. A combination of lectures and discussions will explore the molecular and cellular basis of learning in invertebrates and vertebrates from a behavioral and neural perspective. Course DirectorHillary Gerstein

Last Offered Fall 2014


NGG 706: Neuroeconomics

Last offered Fall 2018

NGG 706-401 Neuroeconomics This seminar will review recent research that combines psychological, economic, and neuroscientific approaches to study human and animal decision-making.  The course will focus on our current state of knowledge regarding the neuroscience of decision-making, and how evidence concerning the neural processes associated with choices might be used to constrain or advance economic and psychological theories of decision-making. Topics covered will include decisions involving risk and uncertainty, decisions that involve learning from experience, decisions in strategic interactions and games, and social preferences. Course Director: Joe Kable


NGG 584: Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms

Last Offered Fall 2018

NGG 584 Neurobiology of Sleep & Circadian Rhythms The objectives of this course are to discuss and evaluate mechanisms controlling sleep and circadian rhythms; to survey novel approaches to investigations in these areas; indicate the clinical relevance of these ideas where possible. About half the course consists of core lectures on basic rhythms, sleep, and their natural substrates. The rest of the lectures are devoted to special topics which change from year to year. Course Directors: David RaizenMax Kelz


NGG 592: Cognitive Neuroscience

Last Offered Spring 2016

This course will introduce you to cognitive neuroscience, which is the study of the neural mechanisms underlying intelligent behavior in humans and animals. Readings will include both seminal and cutting-edge papers within the field. Topics we will cover include: methods, perception, object recognition, and memory. Within each topic we will attempt to integrate the results of different neuroscience approaches, including neuropsychology (i.e. the study of brain-damaged human patients), functional neuroimaging, and neurophysiology (i.e. single unit recordings). Overview lectures will be interspersed with student-led discussions. Course Director: Russell Epstein.


NGG 534: Seminar in Current Genetics Research

Last offered Spring 2017

In this course we will focus on examples of human disease gene models and examine how these genetic model systems can be used to learn more about how and why a disease occurs and how it might be better diagnosed or treated. The course will meet once a week for 1.5-2.0 hours. Prior to each class, the student discussion leader for the week is expected to meet at least once with the assigned faculty preceptor to discuss their presentation. Course DirectorTom Jongens.


NGG 589: Neuroendocrinology

Last Offered Spring 2017

Goals: This course aims to familiarize students with recent discoveries in neuroendocrine research with a focus on puberty.  Students have an opportunity to consider how neuroendocrine hypotheses are generated and learn how to analyze data for themselves. Students will master an this emerging hot topic and develop writing and presenting skills as they develop their own research ideas. Format: We will spend three class meetings dissecting each of four journal articles froma single lab in chronological order.  These three meetings will involve fully understanding the key concepts, methods, results and future directions.  The professor will provide background information in short (20-30 min) lectures.  Students will be expected to participate in discussions and work collaboratively with other students.  At the end of the course, each student will present a proposal of “Future directions” based on the papers we have discussed. Student Evaluation:  Eighty percent of the final grade will be based on participation in these in-depth journal club discussions.  The final twenty percent of the grade will be   based on the presentation of Future Directions to the class.  This is a half-semester course for .5CU. Course DirectorLori Flanagan-Cato.