Science at the heart of medicine

7403 Systems Neuroscience


Scope: The course will explore how complex neural systems integrate afferent information and direct efferent outflow. The overall goal will be to explore higher order functions, such as the structure and function of neural systems underlying sensation and movement, learning and memory at the sensory and motor levels, as well as higher-level cognitive processes including object perception and attention. At every stage we will build on a firm understanding of the underlying physiology and anatomical structure. Principal areas of interest will be on hierarchical neural systems, the plasticity of neural networks, serial and parallel neural processing, cognition and computational modeling.

Format: The course will be divided into four modules: 1) Principles of neural systems, 2) Neural bases of sensation 3) Neural bases of behavior and 4) Higher order functions and cognition. Each module will contain an initial series of didactic lectures introducing key facts and concepts, as well as class participation sessions focused on pre-assigned questions and relevant research papers. Techniques will be illustrated by demonstration.


PREREQUISITES: Must have completed and passed the Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience course (special cases should contact course leaders).

STUDENT PREPARATION: Recommended Textbook/Background Reading: Principles of Neural Science (Kandel, Schwartz & Jessell, Eds.), The Cognitive Neurosciences III (Gazzaniga, Ed.), Theoretical Neuroscience (Dayan & Abbott, Eds.).


UNIQUE TRAINING OFFERED IN THIS COURSE: No significant overlap noted with other courses.

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: The grade will be based on class participation and a term paper in the form of a grant proposal. The midterm exam will involve critiquing classmates’ grant proposals.