Intro. to Neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroscience (2009-2010)

Lecturers: Dr. Nachum Ulanovsky, Dr. Tali Kimchi, Dr. Rony Paz

Time: The 1st semester of 2009-2010.  Meetings take place on Tuesdays, between 9–11 am, Belfer building, Botnar auditorium.

This course will introduce students to Behavioral Neuroscience, first by providing an in-depth introduction to behavior, and then focusing on two different approaches that are common in the field: One approach ("neuropsychological") is to study animals in artificial well-controlled tasks, the other ("neuroethological") approach utilizes the animal's natural behaviors.  We will introduce general aspects, and will also discuss these approaches by focusing on several well-studied example systems.

Part A:  Introduction to Brain and Behavior  (Kimchi, Ulanovsky)
1. Overview of the course (Ulanovsky)
Introduction to Animal Behavior (Kimchi).   (10/11/2009) 
2. Sensory ecology: evolutionary adaptations of animal sensory systems to their environment (Ulanovsky)   (17/11/2009)     [PDF]
3. No lecture – Israel Society for Neuroscience meeting   (24/11/2009)     
4. Hormonal mechanisms of behavior.  Sexual behaviors and their neural mechanisms (Kimchi).  (1/12/2009) 
Part B:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuroethological approach  (Ulanovsky)
5. Basic concepts: neuroscience and neuroethology.  Example system #1: Electrolocation in weakly-electric fish. (Ulanovsky)  (8/12/2009)     [PDF]
6. Example system #2: Multisensory integration in the brain of the barn owl. (Guest lecture by: Dr. Yoram Gutfreund, Technion)   (15/12/2009)     [PDF]
7. Example system #3: Echolocation in bats: behavior, principles of biosonar signal design, neural processing.   (22/12/2009)     [PDF]
8. Example system #4: Neurobiology of spatial cognition.  Introduction to spatial memory, orientation and navigation: (i) Navigational strategies in different animals. (ii) Sensory mechanisms of navigation: vision, magnetic navigation, etc.   (29/12/2009)     [PDF]
9. The navigation circuits in the mammalian brain: Place cells, grid cells, head-direction cells. Computational models of navigation.   (5/1/2010)    [PDF]
Part C:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuropsychological approach  (Paz)
10. Introduction: Basic concepts, standard behavioral tasks.  Example system #5: The representation and production of voluntary movement in the brain. Computational models of artificial and natural movements.   (12/1/2010)    [PDF]
11. Example system #6: A neuroscience approach to the study of learning.  Reward and its representation in neural circuits.   (Guest lecture by: Dr. Genela Morris, Haifa University)   (19/1/2010)   [PDF]
12. Fear and its representation in neural circuits.  (26/1/2010)    [PDF]
13. Example system #7: A neuroscience approach to the study of emotions.   (2/2/2010)   [PDF]

Course requirements: Final exam.
20% of the exam will be on research papers and book chapters on behavioral neuroscience, which will be distributed to the students as compulsory reading material.

Materials for the Exam

We will use three main textbooks in this course:

  • Behavioral Neurobiology, Carew J. (Sinauer, 2000)
  • Behavioral Neurobiology: An Integrative Approach, Zupanc G. (Oxford, 2004)
  • Learning and Behavior, Bouton M. (Sinauer, 2007)

Additional material for some of the lectures is covered in the following books:

  • The Computational Neurobiology of Reaching and Pointing, Shadmehr R. and Wise S. (MIT, 2005)
  • Sensory Ecology, Dusenbery D. (Freeman, 1992)
  • An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology, 3rd ed., Nelson R. (Sinauer, 2005) 
  • Neuroeconomics: Decision making and the Brain, Glimcher P. et al. (Academic Press, 2008)