Courses

Standard first-year courses

NSCI 501a Principles of Neuroscience
Marina Picciotto, Mark Yeckel
General neuroscience seminar: Lectures, readings and discussion of selected topics in neuroscience. Emphasis will be on how approaches at the molecular, cellular, physiological and organismal levels can lead to understanding of neuronal and brain function. Also NBIO 501a. Required for first-year INP students. Principles of Neuroscience Web Page

NSCI 720a Neurobiology
Haig Keshishian, Paul Forscher

Examination of the excitability of the nerve cell membrane provides a starting point for the study of molecular, cellular and intracellular mechanisms underlying the generation and control of behavior. Also MCDB 720a, NBIO 720a. Required for first-year INP students.

NSCI 510b Structural and Functional Organization of the Human Nervous System
Michael Schwartz, Pasko Rakic

An integrative overview of the structure and function of the human brain pertaining to major neurological and psychiatric disorders. Also NBIO 500b. Required for first-year INP students.

NSCI 580b Bioethics in Neuroscience
Charles Greer

This course is an introduction to ethics and ethical decision-making in the neurosciences. Format for the course is an informal discussion. Each week, we will be joined by members of the Yale faculty and community who can share their experiences and expertise as it relates to the topic of the week. Grading is pass/fail and is determined based on attendance/participation, weekly reaction papers and a final term paper. Required for first-year INP students.

Examples of courses that have been offered in the past

NSCI 585a Stem and Progenitor Cells in the Adult Nervous System
Eleni Markakis, Angelique Bordey

This seminar course will examine through original papers in the literature, our current knowledge of adult neurogenesis and neural stem/progenitor cells. We will study the advantages and disadvantages of transplantation techniques vs. recruitment of endogenous progenitors for repair of the damaged nervous system, in a variety of animal models. The focus will be on consensus work, but we will also delve into the controversies of neural stem cell research. The strengths and limitations of various techniques will be examined. The semester will end with a survey of progenitor cells used in clinical trials.

NSCI 504b Seminar in Brain Development and Plasticity
Elke Stein, Weimin Zhong
Weekly seminars (Monday) and discussion sessions (Wednesday) to explore recent advances in our understanding of brain development and plasticity, including neuronal determination, axon guidance, synaptogenesis and developmental plasticity. Also MCDB 735b.

NSCI 514b Neurodevelopment and Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Flora Vaccarino

This course is intended to discuss the development of the central nervous system as it applies to neuropsychiatric disorders. We will focus on the mechanisms that regulate progenitor cell proliferation, the acquisition of regional and cellular identity, neuronal migration and cell death. Information drawn from these basic developmental mechanisms will be used to discuss the newest emerging ideas about the pathogenesis of disorders such as autism, Tourette's syndrome, depression and other affective disorders.

NSCI 535b History of Modern Neuroscience
Gordon Shepherd
In this course we focus on the original breakthroughs that led to major lines of research being pursued today. Subjects include classic papers in the discoveries of DNA, action potential, synaptic transmission, growth factors, second messengers, neurotransmitters, Hebb synapse, dendrites, hippocampus and memory, cortical columns, REM sleep, neuroendocrine system, instrumental conditioning, reticular activating system, psychoactive drugs, computer modeling, and artificial intelligence. Also NBIO 535b.

NSCI 507b Celluar and Molecular Mechanisms of Neurological Disease
Dhasakumar Navaratnam, Stephen Strittmatter, Stephen Waxman
Focuses on those diseases (Alzheimers, Parkinsons, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases, Triplet Repeat induced diseases, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy etc) in which modern neuroscience has advanced mechanistic explanations for clinical conditions. The course will highlight recent molecular, electrophysiological and imaging experiments in parsing disease mechanisms. The application of pathophysiologic understanding to therapeutics will be considered.

NSCI 539b Synaptic Organization of the Nervous System
Gordon Shepherd, Ann Williamson, Michael Hines

An integrated introduction to the principles underlying the organization of neural circuits. The focus is on the best understood systems, including spinal cord, olfactory bulb, retina, cerebellum, thalamus, basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. Students integrate experimental findings from anatomy, electrophysiology and neuropharmacology with computational models at the cellular and circuit level.

NSCI 590a Sensory Neuroethology: Bats, Owls, Electric Fish and Beyond
James Mazer

In this course we will review the neurophysiology of sensory processing with particular attention to animal behavior (ethology) and computation. We will begin with the classic neuroethology literature and end with current work on neocortical circuits underlying sensory processing in higher vertebrates. This seminar course will meet once per week to read and discuss (mostly) primary research papers selected and presented by the students.

NSCI 600a Experimental Methods in Neuroscience
R. Todd Constable

This course will examine the experimental techniques currently available for the Neuroscientist. It will explore the kinds of information obtainable in studying phenomena ranging from electrophysiological recordings of individual neurons, to metabolic processes, ensembles of neurons, to behavioral output. Techniques to be covered include microscopic methods (light, electron), electrophysiology (extracellular/intracellular single cell recordings, multiple cell recording methods, brain slices), macroscopic methods (ERP, MEG, TMR), metabolic measures (microdialisis, biosensors, MR spectroscopy), imaging approaches (optical tomography, PET, SPECT, functional MRI), and interventional techniques (lesions, cortical stimulation, knockout genetics, surgery, drugs). The knowledge gained from each of these approaches, the limitations of the methods, and future developments will be considered.

NSCI 605b Pathways of Discovery in Neuroscience
Meenakshi Alreja, Patrick Allen, Sabrina Diano, Jane Taylor
This course will deal with how some of the very major scientific discoveries have been made in the neurosciences, the personalities associated with those discoveries along with the current status of that field. Topics to be discussed will include 'The Growth of Growth Factors', we will discuss how Rita Levi Montalcini, Stanley Cohen and Victor Hamburger discovered NGF, the controversy behind their Nobel prize and how that field has grown over the last few decades with growth factors now being considered for treatment of stress-related and neurodegenerative disorders. A second topic 'The Saga of GABA' will focus on the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, a profile of Eugene Roberts, the man who discovered GABA 50 years ago, the current status of GABA and GABA receptors and how GABA receptors are being targeted for treatment of neurological and mental disorders. Additional lectures will focus on other ground-breaking discoveries such as 'Neurogenesis in the Adult Brain', Hypocretins and narcolepsy, drugs of abuse.

NSCI 611a Stem Cells and Approaches to Repair in the Nervous System
Erin Lavik
A new course, a seminar in the isolation, differentiation, and therapeutic potential of neural stem cells will be offered. The seminar will begin by focusing on the isolation of neural stem cells using a variety of techniques including FACS sorting, preferential passaging, and cloning. It will then cover the development of techniques to control the differentiation of NSCs as well as identify their potential using gene and drug delivery approaches as well as novel high throughput assays. Comparisons will be made between the in vitro and in vivo data across stem cell lines and models. The ultimate therapeutic potential of NSCs will then be addressed and current results along these lines will be compared with other stem cell populations as well as fetal tissue. Weekly readings will be drawn from the current literature and will be used to guide discussion. Experts in the field will also be invited to lead sessions. Also ENAS 811a.

NSCI 612b Molecular Transport and Intervention in the Brain
Mark Saltzman

This new course is a graduate-level seminar on mechanisms and rates of movement of molecules in the brain and the design of novel drug delivery systems. Topics will include mathematical methods for modeling diffusion and flow processes, diffusion in the brain interstitium, fluid flows in the brain and spinal cord, the blood-brain barrier, microdialysis measurements, controlled release systems, microfluidic approaches for drug delivery. Weekly readings will be assigned from neuroscience and engineering texts; current papers from the literature will be used to guide discussion each week. Also ENAS 812b.

NSCI 614b Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Thomas Brown
This seminar integrates hypotheses and research methods used to elucidate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Levels of analysis range from molecular and cellular to systems and behavioral, with a primary focus on cellular and systems neurophysiology. Discussion includes the philosophy and rationale underlying some of the more successful and interesting methods. A goal is to evaluate critically how one might connect synaptic phenomena such a long-term potentiation and depression to behavioral changes such as acquisition and extinction. Focus is on combining in vitro and in vivo methods that offer the possibility for yielding quantitative theoretical or computational models. PSYC 572a/C&MP 675a.

NSCI 648b, Cellular Analysis of Learning and Memory: Vertebrate Model Systems
Glenn Schafe
Course examines behavioral, neuroanatomical, cellular, and molecular aspects of learning and memory in various vertebrate models. The learning phenomena considered range from nonassociative or nonrelational learning (a single stimulus learning) to associative or relational learning (the learning of a relation between two or more stimuli or between stimuli and behavior). Also Psyc 648b.