Course Descriptions

FRESHMAN SEMINARS

BIBB 050/NRSC 0050. Forensic Neuroscience and Brain Imaging. (C) Langleben. Freshman Seminar. Living World Sector.
Legal systems have attempted to evaluate and measure human behavior long before psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience were scientific disciplines. Current legal systems rely on behavioral science in both criminal and civil litigation.  For example, intent is a prerequisite of criminal responsibility, motive is used to identify likely suspects, and mental illness or cognitive ability can be a defense to crime or a mitigating factor in a death penalty determination as well as a reason to deny a parent custody of a child. In the last decade, there has been substantial progress in behavioral neuroscience; a development not lost on the court system.  Brain imaging techniques--such as functional and structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography--have become part of all phases of legal proceedings and have forced  courts to reconsider the use of behavioral science and the role of juries in courtroom decision-making. The goal of this course is to enable students to understand the present and the potential future role of behavioral neuroscience evidence in the justice system. Through this course, students will learn the basic concepts in behavioral neuroscience, medical imaging and scientific legal evidence, and will develop the ability to critically evaluate neuroscience data in forensic and legal settings. This course is open to all undergraduate students and will be of particular interest to students with interest in law, neuroscience, criminology and psychology. Background in science or biology is helpful but is not required.

BIBB 060/NRSC 0060 Music and the Brain. (A)  Kaplan.  Freshman Seminar.  Living World Sector.  Course Syllabus
Every human culture that has ever been described makes some form of music. The musics of different cultures cover a wide range of styles, but also display fascinating similarities, and a number of features are shared by even the most disparate musical traditions. Within our own culture, music is inescapable - there are very few individuals who do not listen to music every day, and far more who listen to music virtually all day long. Appreciation of music comes very early - mothers all over the world sing to their babies in a similar style. And yet, despite this seeming ubiquity, the real origin and purpose of music remains unknown. Music is obviously related to language, but how? Why do so many cultures make music in such fundamentally similar ways? What goes into the formation of music "taste" and preferences? Does music have survival value, or is it merely "auditory cheesecake", a superfluous byproduct of evolution as some critics have maintained? What is the nature of musical ability and how do musicians differ from non-musicians? In this course, we will look for answers by looking at the brain. Although the sciences and the arts are often seen as entirely separate or even in opposition, studying the brain is actually telling us a lot about music, and studying music is telling us just as much about the brain.

BIBB 090/NRSC 0090. Your Brain on Food. (C) Alhadeff. Freshman Seminar.
What motivates us to eat? Why do many of us eat even in the absence of hunger? How do our food preferences and habits form? And how can eating transition from regulated to dysregulated? This seminar class investigates these questions and many others, with a focus on how our brains regulate food intake. We will explore the neuroscience behind eating, as well as the genetic, psychological, social, cultural, and societal influences that shape our behavior. Through readings, assignments, and class discussions, we will navigate the biological forces behind normal eating, as well as how eating becomes disordered in diseases like obesity and eating disorders. Through this course, students will learn about behavioral neuroscience research from human and animal studies and will develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. There are no prerequisites except for a love of food.

 

100-Level Courses

BIBB 109/NRSC 1110. Introduction to Brain and Behavior. (C) Kane, Rust. Living World Sector (All Classes). Course Syllabus
Introduction to the structure and function of the vertebrate nervous system. We begin with the cellular basis of neuronal activities, then discuss the physiological bases of motor control, sensory systems, motivated behaviors, and higher mental processes. This course is intended for students interested in the neurobiology of behavior, ranging from animal behaviors to clinical disorders. 

BIBB 159/NRSC 1159. Memory. (C) Schapiro.
This course presents an integrative treatment of the cognitive and neural processes involved in learning and memory, primarily in humans. We will survey the major findings and theories on how the brain gives rise to different kinds of memory, considering evidence from behavioral experiments, neuroscientific experiments, and computational models. 

BIBB 160/NRSC 1160. ABCS of Everyday Neuroscience. (C) Flanagan-Cato. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109
This course is an opportunity for undergraduates to share their interest and enthusiasm for neuroscience with students in grades 9-12 attending urban public schools in West Philadelphia. The course will allow Penn students to develop their science communication and teaching skills. Students will prepare neuroscience demonstrations, hands-on activities, and assessment tools. In parallel, the course aims to engage local high school students, increasing their interest and knowledge in science, and ultimately promoting lifelong science literacy. 

 

200-level courses

BIBB 217/NRSC 2217 Visual Neuroscience. (C) McLean. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109, PSYC 001, COGS 001 or VLST 101. Course Syllabus
An introduction to the scientific study of vision, with an emphasis on the biological substrate and its relation to behavior. Topics will typically include physiological optics, transduction of light, visual thresholds, anatomy and physiology of the visual pathways, retinal processing, properties of visual cortex, and color vision.

BIBB 227/NRSC 2227 Physiology of Motivated Behaviors. (C) Grill. Gen Req V: May be counted towards the General Requirement in Living World (Class of 2009 and prior). Course Syllabus
This course focuses on evaluating the experiments that have sought to establish links between brain structure (the activity of specific brain circuits) and behavioral function (the control of particular motivated and emotional behaviors). Students are exposed to concepts from regulatory physiology, systems neuroscience, pharmacology, and endocrinology and read textbooks as well as original source materials. The course focuses on the following behaviors: feeding, sex, fear, anxiety, the appetite for salt, and food aversion. The course also considers the neurochemical control of responses with an eye towards evaluating the development of drug treatments for: obesity, anorexia/cachexia, vomiting, sexual dysfunction, anxiety disorders, and depression.

BIBB 231/NRSC 2140. Evolution of Behavior: Animal Behavior. (C)  Schmidt. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 001 or BIOL 102 or 122.
The evolution of social behavior in animals, with special emphasis on group formation, cooperation among kin, mating systems, territoriality and communication. 

BIBB 233/NRSC 2233. Neuroethology. (C)  McLean. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109. Course Syllabus
An introduction to the experimental analysis of natural animal behavior, and its neurobiological basis. Behavior is examined in an evolutionary and ecological context, and questions are focused on the neural processes that allow animals to carry out critical activities such as locating prey and finding mates. The course is comparative and strives to identify common principles in sensory and motor processing and brain function. 

BIBB 240/NRSC 2240. Chronobiology and Sleep. (B) Raizen. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109. Students may not use both BBB 040 and 240 towards BBB major or minor. Course Syllabus
Topics to be covered include basic principles of chronobiology; neuroscience mechanisms of circadian rhythms and sleep; phylogeny and ontengeny of sleep; human sleep and sleep disorders; circadian dysfunction; circadian and sleep homeostatic influences in human health and safety.

BIBB 249/NRSC 2249 Cognitive Neuroscience. (C) Epstein. Sector V: May be counted towards the Sector Requirement in Living World (Class of 2010 and following). Prerequisite(s): PSYC 001 or BIBB 109. Course Syllabus
The study of the neuronal systems that underlie human perception, memory and language; and of the pathological syndromes that result from damage to these systems.

BIBB 251/NRSC 2110. Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology. (A) Kaplan/Schmidt. Prerequisite(s): BIOL 101 and 102 or 121. Course Syllabus
Cellular physiology of neurons and excitable cells; molecular neurobiology and development. Topics include: action potential generation; synaptic transmission; molecular and physiological studies of ion channels; second messengers; simple neural circuits; synaptic plasticity; learning and memory; and neural development.

BIBB 260/NRSC 2260. Neuroendocrinology. (C) Flanagan-Cato. Prerequisite(s): BBB 109, one year of Introductory Biology, or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus
This course is designed to examine the various roles played by the nervous and endocrine systems in controlling both physiological processes and behavior. First, the course will build a foundation in the concepts of neural and endocrine system function. Then we will discuss how these mechanisms form the biological underpinnings of various behaviors and their relevant physiological correlates. We will focus on sexual and parental behaviors, aggression and ingestion. The readings will include both textbook chapters and selected journal articles from primary scientific literature.

BIBB 269/NRSC 2269. Autonomic Physiology. (A) Heerding. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus
This course will introduce the student to the functioning of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is critically involved in the maintenance of body homeostasis through regulation of behavior and physiology. The course will begin with a review the basic anatomy and physiology of the ANS including the sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric divisions. The mechanisms by which the ANS regulates peripheral tissues will be discussed, including reflex and regulatory functions, as will the effect of drugs which modulate ANS activity. The role of the ANS in regulating behavior will be addressed in the context of thirst, salt appetite and food intake.

BIBB 270/NRSC 2270. Drugs, Brain and Mind. (B) Kane. Prerequisite(s): Introductory Biology and Psychology, BIBB 109. Course Syllabus
The course will begin with a review of basic concepts in pharmacology including: routes of drug administration, drug metabolism, the dose response curve, tolerance and sensitization. Following a brief overview of cellular foundations of neuropharmacology (cell biology, synaptic and receptor function), the course will focus on various classes of drugs used to treat neuropsychiatric disorders including, among others, depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. We will additionally consider mechanisms mediating the mind-altering, addictive and neurotoxic effects of abused drugs.

BIBB 273/NRSC 2273. Neuroeconomics. (C) Kable. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109.
This course will introduce students to neuroeconomics, a field of research that combines economic, psychological, and neuroscientific approaches to study decision-making. The course will focus on our current understanding of how our brains give rise to decisions, and how this knowledge might be used to constrain or advance economic and psychological theories of decision-making. Topics covered will include how individuals make decisions under conditions of uncertainty, how groups of individuals decide to cooperate or compete, and how decisions are shaped by social context, memories, and past experience.

BIBB 350/NRSC 2350. Developmental Neurobiology. (C) Staff. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109.
This course will focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms of the organogenesis of the central nervous system. We will begin by examining how tissue in early development is induced to take a neuronal lineage. We will then build to understand how neural stem cells generate the different cells of the nervous system, how they migrate to their correct locations, how axons find their correct targets, and how functional synapses are established. In the last part of the course we will focus on ways in which basic neurodevelopmental research can inform our understanding of various disorders.

 

300-level laboratory courses

BIBB 310/NRSC 3310. Functional Neuroanatomy. (B) McLean. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus  
A laboratory course designed to familiarize the student with the fundamental gross and histological organization of the brain. The mammalian brain will be dissected and its microscopic anatomy examined using standard slide sets. Comparative brain material will be introduced, where appropriate, to demonstrate basic structural-functional correlations. 

BIBB 334/NRSC 3334. Computational Neuroscience Lab. (C) Rust. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 or Permission of Instructor.
This course will focus on computational neuroscience from the combined perspective of data collection, data analysis, and computational modeling. These issues will be explored through lectures as well as Matlab-based tutorials and exercises. The course requires no prior knowledge of computer programming and a limited math background, but familiarity with some basic statistical concepts will be assumed. The course is an ideal preparation for students interested in participating in a more independent research experience in one of the labs on campus.  

BIBB 375/NRSC 3375. Animal Behavior Laboratory. (C) Kane. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 and BIOL 101/102 or BIOL 123/124, or Permission of Instructor.  Course Syllabus
This course will allow students to understand the variety, function, and evolution of complex behaviors in simple animals and how the genes governing these behaviors can be used to provide insight into human behavior and brain  disease. The course is structured to allow students to experience what it is like to work in a neuroscience research laboratory.  We will use the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) as our model organism (with one class dedicated to song birds). Over the course of the semester, we will examine the underlying neurobiology, physiology, and genetics of a variety of fly behaviors to understand aggression, taste, learning and memory, courtship, neurodegenerative diseases, and circadian rhythms. We will review both current and historical research advances in detail by focusing on primary literature. Students will be expected to design, analyze and interpret the behavioral experiments that are employed. Students will learn how to conduct animal behavior research, enhance their ability to critically read scientific literature, and improve their written and oral communication skills through paper presentations and written reports.

BIBB 492/NRSC 3492. Experimental Methods in Synaptic Physiology. (C) Kaplan. Prerequisite: BIBB 251. Course Syllabus
In this seminar and lab course, a small number of students (12-20) meet once per week to discuss topics in synaptic physiology and to become proficient at sharp electrode techniques for intracellular recording, using isolated ganglia from the snail Heliosoma. The first part of each class will consist of discussion of weekly reading from the primary literature, with the remainder of the class devoted to hands-on experiments. After learning to record from and characterize single neurons, students will study synaptic transmission by stimulating incoming nerve trunks or by recording from pairs of interconnected neurons. As a midterm assignment, students will prepare and present a short research proposal using this model system, to be evaluated by the class. For the last half of the course, the class will work together on one or two of these proposals, meeting at the end of each class to pool our data, analyze the results and discuss their significance.

BIBB 399/NRSC 3999. Sponsored Research. (C) Standing Faculty. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 and permission of the BBB Director.
Individual research of an experimental nature with a member of the standing faculty leading to a written paper. The grade is based primary on a serious term paper describing original research carried out by the student. Students must submit a proposal prior to registering. During the semester, students must attend two seminars led by the BBB Director or Associate Director to discuss planning an independent research project, ethical concerns in research and writing a scientific paper. Attendance at the meetings is mandatory. Students wishing to do research in hospitals with investigators who are not standing faculty at Penn should inquire about College 99 at the College Advising Office. Students doing more than one credit of independent study will be required to present a poster at the annual BBB Symposium.

 

400-level courses

BIBB 417/NRSC 4417. Visual Processing. (C) Rust. Prerequisite: BIBB 109, BIBB 249 or PSYC 217, or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus
This seminar will focus on how visual information is processed by the eye and the brain to produce visual perception. These issues will be explored through lectures and student presentations of journal articles, combined with Matlab-based tutorials and exercises. The course requires no prior knowledge of visual processing, math of computer programming.

BIBB 420/NRSC 4420. Smell and Taste. (C) Lewandowski. Prerequisite(s): Introductory Psychology and Biology, BIBB 109. PSYC 111 (Perception) preferred.
All organisms respond to chemicals in their environment.  This chemosensation guides diverse behaviors such as a feeding, avoiding predators, sex, and social interactions. This course will provide a broad survey of our current understanding of taste and smell, focusing on insect and rodent model systems as well as studies in humans.  The course will begin with a review of chemical signal transduction mechanisms, and build to an exploration of the cortical integration of chemical signals and chemical guided behaviors. Class time will emphasize primary literature, discussion, and student presentations. The goal is to reach an integrated understanding of the physiology and psychology of chemical sensory systems. In the process, students will learn to read and critically evaluate data from primary research articles.

BIBB 421/NRSC 4421. Functional Imaging of the Human Brain. (B) Newberg. Prerequisite: BIBB 109. Course Syllabus
The ability to utilize different imaging techniques in disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, neurology, and cognitive neurosciences is a growing field and presents many interesting problems and possibilities. This course is an upper level seminar course for individuals pursuing one of the above mentioned fields and/or premedical course work. The course would provide a detailed overview of functional brain imaging and its potential uses. Issues regarding advantages and disadvantages of different modalities, study design image analysis and interpretation, and how each of these relates to various neurological and psychological phenomena will be discussed. The classes will cover the following specific topics in this general time frame: Introduction to functional brain function, basics of nuclear medicine imaging (including instrumentation, image acquisition, and radiopharmaceuticals for positron emission tomography and single photon emission computed tomography), imaging of neurological disorders, imaging of psychological disorders, introduction to activation studies, image analysis and statistical problems, study design, literature review, journal article presentation, tour of Penn imaging facilities, interpretation of imaging studies, implications for clinical and research, and implications for understand the human mind and consciousness.

BIBB 425/NRSC 4425. Neurotechnology (C) Serruya. Prerequisites: Introductory Biology, BIBB 109. 
The nervous system, and in particular the brain, remains the least understood part of the human body and is also the site of devastating, irreversible injury and disease. This course reviews wearable and implantable medical devices and surgical techniques that have been developed to treat conditions of the nervous system. The course will begin with a review of human neuroanatomy and neurophysiology and proceed to establish benchmarks and context for evaluating device efficacy. Contrasts with pharmaceuticals and the emergence of “electroceuticals” will be discussed. An overview of the bench-to-bedside process will be provided and then we will cycle through a series of major neuro-related medical devices (cochlear implants, deep brain stimulators, epiretinal arrays, responsive neurostimulators, spinal cord stimulators, functional electrical stimulation), and surgical approaches (nerve grafts, tendon transfers). The course will conclude with a focus on brain-computer interfaces and autologous engineered neural constructs and explore the ethical and medical implications of implanting such devices in able-bodied people, bottlenecks in enhancement and critical evaluation of the idea of superintelligence. This course may be of interest to students interested in pursuing careers in medicine, artificial intelligence, and business. Offered through LPS.

BIBB 429/NRSC 4429. Sleep and Memory. (C) Schapiro. Prerequisites: BIBB 109.
Why do we sleep? This question has puzzled scientists for centuries, but one reason emerging from research in the area is that sleep is critical for forming, retaining, and transforming our memories. This seminar explores human and animal research in psychology and neuroscience that has shed light on how sleep carries out these functions. Topics will include the different stages of sleep and their roles in memory consolidation, the neural systems involved in representing memory at different timescales, and the role of dreams in processing memories.

BIBB 430/NRSC 4430. Neurobiological Basis of Autism. (C) Herrington. Prerequisites: Introductory Biology, BIBB 109. Course syllabus. 
This course examines the neurobiological processes underlying autism spectrum disorders. In this seminar style course, we will first examine the brain phenotypes associated with ASD, in addition to investigating the genetic and environmental contributions to the etiology and pathophysiology of Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD). After an initial examination of clinical literature and research, we will focus on animal models of ASD, including those of syndromic causes of autism (Rett syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, Fragile X) and investigate changes in neurotransmitter systems and synaptic dysfunctions in the brain in these models. Offered through LPS.

BIBB 440/NRSC 4440. The Neuroscience Behind the Addiction to Chocolate, Wine, Coffee and Tobacco. (C) DeBiasi. Prerequisites: BIBB 109.  
Both clinical observations and popular culture support the idea that food might have addictive properties. Similar to the narrative for addictive drugs, individuals and the media use terms like "food addict" and "chocoholic" and refer to cravings, symptoms of withdrawal, and escalating patterns of eating that might be viewed as evidence of tolerance. The class will discuss chocolate and coffee as examples of so-called "addictive" food and compare their effects and mechanisms with those of alcohol and nicotine, two substances with well-characterized addictive properties. Furthermore, we will discuss why some forms of overeating are thought to reflect an addictive behavior. Considering the social dimension of alcohol, coffee, and tobacco consumption and the fact that large numbers of the population consume them together, we will also discuss the possible interactive effects of combinations of these psychoactive substances on mood and disease state. At the end of the course, the student will become familiar with the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence, the anatomy and physiology of the brain circuits involved in reward processing and drug dependence, and the neurotransmitter systems involved.

BIBB 442/NRSC 4442. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. (C) Kelly. Prerequisite(s): BIOL 251/BIBB 251 and PSYC 001, or permission of instructor. Course Syllabus
This course focuses on the current state of our knowledge about the neurobiological basis of learning and memory. A combination of lectures and student seminars will explore the molecular and cellular basis of learning in invertebrates from a behavioral and neural perspective.

BIBB 449/NRSC 4233. Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience: Brain Development. (C) Arcaro. Prerequisite: NRSC 2249. Course Syllabus
This discussion-based seminar will focus on the neural bases of cognitive development. Each week the class will discuss a selection of papers that consider the roles of genes and environment on topics including the development of perceptual abilities, language, and cognition. The course will cover several aspects of pre- and postnatal brain and behavioral development with particular emphasis on animal models. This course is intended for students interested in neurobiology, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology and development.

BIBB 450/NRSC 4450. Seminar in Music. (C) Kaplan. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 and permission of instructor.  
There are very few things on which all humans agree that aren't strictly necessary for our survival, things like eating and breathing and staying out of the cold.  Except for maybe one thing: humans love music.  We don't die without it, but we act as if we might: most people listen to music every day, multiple times a day (for some people, all day). Every human culture that has ever been described makes music, and within cultures, people who don't "get" music are rare enough that there is a clinical term for the condition ("amusia").  Not only do all cultures make music, but they do so in fundamentally similar ways: all over the world, the same scales, intervals, and rhythmic structures appear with improbable frequency, especially given the literally infinite possible ways to divide up the pitch scale.  Many musical preferences that are definitely learned, not innate, at the individual level are nonetheless surprisingly universal, popping up again and again all over the world.  If these things are learned, then how did it come to pass that so many cultures are teaching the same things? Why does music affect us the way that it does? How do abstract sequences of tones affect our emotions so strongly? The premise of this course is that the best place to look for answers to these questions is by looking at the brain (and the ear, of course).  Readings are taken from the primary literature and from classic texts, supplemented by lab exercises and apps to continue these investigations at home.

BIBB 460/BIBB 4460. Neuroendocrinology Seminar. (B) Flanagan-Cato. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109, one year of Biology, or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus
This course is an upper-level seminar, designed to examine the various roles played by the nervous and endocrine systems in controlling both physiological processes and behavior.  We will focus on sexual and parental behaviors, stress, metabolism, neuroendocrine-immune interactions, and mental health.  The format will be a mixture of lectures and journal club discussions based on recent primary literature in the field of neuroendocrinology.  Students will also write several short papers based on the clinical neuroendocrinology.

BIBB 466/NRSC 4266. Molecular Genetics of Neurological Disease. (C) Bonini. Prerequisite(s): BIOL 221 is required; BIBB 251 and BIOL 421 are recommended.
This course will focus on the molecular basis of neurological diseases, exploring in detail key papers that cover topics including defining the disease genes, development of animal models that provide mechanistic insight, and seminal findings that reveal molecular understanding. Diseases covered will include neurological diseases of great focus today such as Alzheimer's, Fragile-X and autism, dementia, motor neuron degeneration, and microsatellite repeat expansion disorders. The course will provide a perspective from initial molecular determination through current status. Students will gain an understanding of how the molecular basis of a disease is discovered (from classical genetics to modern genomics) and how such diseases can be modeled in simple genetic systems for mechanistic insight. The course will be comprised of lectures with detailed analysis of primary literature and in-class activities. Grading will be based on class participation, exams, and written papers.

BIBB 469/NRSC 4469. Stress Neuroscience. (C) Heerding. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109, one year of Biology, or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus
Stress can be caused by a variety of conditions, ranging from low-level noise in the workplace to life-threatening situations and these stressors can cause changes in the physiology and behavior of individuals. This course will examine the neural mechanisms underlying physiological and emotional responses to stress in a journal club format. Topics to be covered include anxiety disorders, depression and other mood disorders, the differential effects of stress on males and females, the physiological effects of stress on the immune system and feeding behavior, the effects of maternal stress on offspring as well as strategies to mitigate the effects of stress.

BIBB 470/NRSC 4470. Animal Models of Psychiatric Disorders. (C) Kane. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109, or Permission of Instructor. Course Syllabus  This seminar will focus on the significant role that animal models play in the investigation of the pathophysiology of a variety of human neuropsychiatric disorders as well as their use in the development of treatments for these disorders. The course will focus on the use of genetically modified mice in the investigation of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), anxiety and affective disorders, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There will be a specific emphasis on the limitations of such models. Class time will consist of short lectures, paper discussions via student-led presentations, and peer-review sessions. Emphasis will be placed on the critical analysis of primary literature. Students will be required to write several mini-reviews of the models under study as well as a formal research proposal on a model of their choice.

BIBB 475/NRSC 4475. Neurodegenerative Diseases. (B) Kelly. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109 or Permission of Instructor.
This course will familiarize students with advances in our understanding of the clinical features and pathogenesis of a wide rage of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, prion diseases, Parkinson's disease and atypical parkinsonisms, neurodegenerative ataxias, motor neuron diseases, degenerative diseases with chorea, iron and copper disorders, and mitochondrial diseases. Students will analyze original research reports on a range of proposed pathological cellular processes that may represent steps in cell death pathways leading to neuron loss seen in these diseases. Representative topics will include accumulation of aberrant proteins, inflammatory response and release of neurotoxic cytokines, protein misfolding, protofibril formation, ubiquitin-proteosome system dysfunction, synaptic failure, excitotoxic insult, oxidative and nitrosative stress, mitochondrial injury and dysfunction, axonal and dendritic transport failure. Significant emphasis will be placed on the fast-expanding field exploring genetic contributions to neurodegenerative disease, as identification of genetic mutations pathogenic for familial neurodegenerative diseases has been a major driving force in neurodegenerative research and pointed researchers towards essential molecular process that may underlie these disorders. Strategies for therapeutic intervention in the management, prevention, and cure of neurodegenerative disease will be addressed. 

BIBB 485/NRSC 4485. Signaling in Nerve and Muscle. (C) Hollingworth. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 251 or Permission of Instructor. 
This seminar course will expand and deepen knowledge gained in BIBB 251 about excitability in the nervous system and about how synapses function.  A new area of study will be skeletal and cardiac muscle which are both excitable tissues.  A particular focus of the course will be the roles which calcium ions play as second messengers in nerve, muscle and synapse.  We will learn about how calcium is handled in nerve and muscle and about the techniques used to study intra-cellular calcium.  The later part of the course will have a journal club format, based on the reading and presentation of original papers.  These will include papers on calcium related muscle diseases and on the integration of nerve and muscle signaling in animal motor behaviors.

BIBB 499/NRSC 4999. Senior Honors Thesis. (C) Standing Faculty. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 399, Permission of BIBB Director and a GPA of 3.5 or better.
Continuation of BIBB 399 research. Students are required to participate in the weekly honors seminar program run by the Director or Associate Director.  Students will discuss and present research findings, ethics concerns in research and careers in neuroscience. Selected faculty will also present research talks as part of the honors seminar program. Students will also be required to present their oral defense and a poster at the annual BBB Symposium.

BIBB 585/NRSC 5585. Theoretical Neuroscience. (C) Balasubramanian. Prerequisite(s): BIBB 109. A knowledge of multi-variable 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 Syllabus
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 complete description of all courses are listed in the Course Register.