Required and Elective Coursework

Required Courses

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 every Fall. Course Director: Kurt Engelka. Syllabus

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This 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 Directors: Doug Coulter and Toshi Hoshi. Syllabus

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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 Directors: Franz Weber and Maria Geffen. Syllabus

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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: Gregory Corder and Amber Alhadeff. Syllabus

Note: a seminar schedule and papers are posted here

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The quantitative neuroscience core 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 it does not provide a comprehensive survey of statistical tests, nor does it 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, the course focused on teaching students how to apply quantitative approaches to now they think about neuroscience research from beginning to end, including defining clear hypotheses; designing experiments to test those hypotheses; collecting, visualizing, analyzing, and interpreting data in reference to those hypotheses; and keeping effective and transparent records at each stage to ensure rigor and reproducibility. 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 rotation projects). Course director: Joshua Gold. Syllabus

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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. Syllabus

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Elective Courses | Fall 2020

This is a course intended to bring students up to date concerning our understanding of Neural Epigenetics. It is based on assigned topics and readings covering a variety of experimental systems and concepts in the field of Neuroepigenetics, formal presentations by individual students, critical evaluation of primary data, and in-depth discussion of potential issues and future directions,
with goals to:

  1. Review basic concepts of epigenetics in the context of neuroscience
  2. Learn to critically evaluate a topic (not a single paper) and rigor of prior research
  3. Improve experimental design and enhance rigor and reproducibility
  4. Catch up with the most recent development in neuroepigenetics
  5. Develop professional presentation skills - be a story teller

Course Directors: Zhaolan (Joe) Zhou, Elizabeth Heller, and Hao Wu. Syllabus

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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. Cross-listed as PSYC 573. Course Director: Joe Kable. Syllabus

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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 Director: David Raizen. Syllabus

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Elective Courses | Spring 2021

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. Cross-listed as BE 521. Offered annually every spring. Course Director: Brian Litt. Syllabus

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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. Offered annually every spring. Course Directors: Mariella De Biasi and Daniel Wolf. Syllabus

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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. Offered annually every spring. Cross-listed as PHYS 585. Course Director: Vijay Balasubramanian. Syllabus

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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. Offered Spring odd years. Course Directors: Akiva Cohen and D. Kacy Cullen. Syllabus

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Elective Courses | Summer

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: Wenqin Luo and Jonathan Raper. Syllabus

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Electives with Irregular Schedules

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 merged with NGG 576 Advanced Topics in Neuropsychopharmacology. Course Directors: Steve Thomas, Wade Berrettini and Liz Heller. Syllabus

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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 Director: Tom Jongens.

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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. Cross-listed as PSYC 421. Course Director: Hillary Gerstein. Syllabus

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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 .5 CUs. Course Director: Lori Flanagan-Cato.

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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.

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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. Syllabus

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Independent Study

See NGG's Canvas site for sample Independent Study Syllabi.

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