Margaret Saha


8/26  Overview of Neurobiology in the "Decade of the Brain"
8/28  Cell Biology of Neurons and Glia: The Unique Properties of Neuronal    Cells  (Ch. 1: 1-5)
8/31  A Brief Tour of the Nervous System: (Ch. 1: 6-34; Ch. 20, selected pgs.)
9/2  A Brief Tour of the Nervous System (continued)


9/4  Electrical Signals of Nerve Cells: The Resting Membrane Potential  (Ch. 2)
9/7  Depolarization of the Cell Membrane: The Action Potential (Ch. 3)
9/9  The Molecular Players: Channels and Pumps (Ch. 4)
9/11  Channels and Pumps (continued)
9/14  Synaptic Transmission: Neuronal Signaling (Ch. 5; Ch. 7: 121-130)
9/16  Synaptic Transmission (continued)
9/18  Neurotransmitters and Their Receptors (Ch. 6; Ch. 7: 130-143)
9/21  Neurotransmitters and Their Receptors (continued)
9/23  Overview of Neural Communication
9/25  Midterm I


9/28  The Somatic Sensory System (Ch. 8)
9/30  Pain (Ch. 9)
10/2  More Pain
10/5  Vision:  Visual Processing in the Retina (Ch. 10)
10/7  Vision:  Construction of a Visual Image in the Brain (Ch. 11)
10/9  Hearing and Balance: From Hair Cells to Central Connections  (Chs. 12, 13)
10/14 The Chemical Senses: Smell (Ch. 14: 263-273)
10/16 The Chemical Senses: Taste (Ch. 14: 273-287)


10/19  Spinal Control of Movement (Ch. 15)
10/21  Descending Control of Movement  (Ch.  16)
10/23  Modulation of Movement by the Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum
   (Chs. 17, 18)
10/26  Sensory-Motor Integration  (Ch. 19)


10/28 An Overview of Pleasure Centers and Motivation
10/30 Midterm II
11/2  Motivation: Feeding and Thirst
11/4  Motivation: Mating, Courtship and Chemicals (Ch. 28)
11/6  Motivation: Sleep (Ch. 26)
11/9  The Neural Basis of Emotion (Ch. 27)
11/11 The Neural Basis of Emotion: Depression, Anxiety and Mania
11/13 More Depression, Anxiety and Mania
11/16 Cognition: Its Neural Basis (Ch. 24)
11/18 Cognition: The Neural Basis of Cognitive Disorders
11/20 Language and Lateralization (Ch. 25)
11/23 Learning and Memory: How to Wire a Brain -- Lessons from Development
    (Chs. 21, 22)
11/30 Learning and Memory: Memory Systems (Ch. 29)
12/2  Learning and Memory:  Cellular and Molecular Basis of Memory (Ch.  23)
12/4  The Nature of Consciousness???


     The goal of neuroscience is to understand the biological basis of the mind, that is, to comprehend on the cellular and molecular level how we move, perceive, think and remember. The primary objective of this course is to provide a basic yet thorough understanding of modern neuroscience in what has been termed "the decade of the brain."
   As reflected in the syllabus of lecture topics presented above, this will first entail an analysis of the components of the nervous system as well as the unique manner by which neuronal cells are able to communicate.
   We will then apply this information to an analysis of the fundamental neural "systems," that is, sensory systems, motor systems, and central systems.  This will involve an integrative approach to each system, examining it on the organismal, cellular and molecular levels, as well as discussing various pathologies associated with each system.
    The course will not only attempt to convey the current status of our knowledge in neurobiology, but equally importantly, how this knowledge was obtained.  This will involve understanding and critically analyzing the methods employed in modern neuroscience, ranging from molecular biological and recombinant DNA techniques to patch clamping to magnetic resonance imaging.
   Finally, in addition to gaining an understanding of specific neural systems, an equally important goal will be to discern the common or unifying themes which weave through much of neuroscience, namely, levels of neural organization, neuronal plasticity, parallel processing and redundancy.


     The textbook for the course is Neuroscience, edited by Dale Purves, published by Sinauer in 1997.  It is a very current and readable text and it is strongly recommended that you read the chapters listed next to each lecture topic.  A handout will be provided for each lecture and/or topic covered in the course.  The handout will specify the essential material for a given topic and will refer to essential figures in your text.  If the lecture material is covered in detail in the text, the handout will simply outline the content. However, the lectures will frequently cover material in more depth than presented in the text or currently published findings that are not yet incorporated into any textbook; in these cases, more detailed handouts will be provided. Accompanying your text  is a tutorial and computer disk entitled Electrophysiology of the Neuron by Huguenard and McCormick (Oxford University Press, 1994), which is an interactive program analyzing the different functional properties of neurons.  You will be strongly encouraged to make use of these programs which will be available on various computers within the department.  The tutorial and disk are also available (for Macs and PCs) in the bookstore.


     There will be two midterm examinations each worth 20% of the grade and a final examination worth 25% of the grade.  The first midterm will cover the material on the "basic components of the nervous system" and " mechanisms of neural communication;"  the second will cover sensory and motor systems. The final will focus on central systems and will be comprehensive in the sense that the information covered earlier in the course will pertain to central systems.  In general, you will be expected to know the material covered on the handouts as well as any additional reading material.  The remainder of the grade will be determined by performance on two take-home, open-book, open-discussion assignments:   a computer based problem set on electrophysiology (10%), and a critical molecular and neurophysiological analysis of  "the drug of your choice" (25%).  This assignment is described in detail on a separate "Drug of Your Choice" handout.


     Scheduled office hours are Mondays from 10-1 and Fridays from 10-12, and by appointment.  Review sessions will be held prior to each exam, and as necessary during the course.  My office is 314 Millington (please check the lab, room 301, if I am not in the office), and my phone numbers are  221-2407 (office) and 253-2472 (home).