Intro. to Neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroscience (2011-2012)

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

Time: The 2nd semester of 2011-2012.  Meetings take place on Wednesdays, between 9–12 am, FGS room C (unless indicated otherwise).

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 contrast and compare these two approaches by focusing on several well-studied, classic example systems.

Part A:  Introduction to Brain and Behavior  (Kimchi, Ulanovsky) 
1. Introduction to Behavior (Kimchi).   (14/3/2012)  
2. Sensory ecology: evolutionary adaptations of animal sensory systems to their environment (Ulanovsky).   (21/3/2012)     [PDF]
3. Hormonal mechanisms of behavior.  Sexual behaviors and their neural mechanisms (Kimchi).   (28/3/2012) 
4. Animal models of social disorders (Kimchi).   (4/4/2012)
Part B:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuroethological approach  (Ulanovsky)
5. Basic concepts: neuroscience and neuroethology.  Example system #1: Electrolocation in weakly-electric fish.   (18/4/2012)     [PDF]
6. Example system #2: The bird song system: behavior, neuroanatomy, physiology, models.  (Guest lecture by: Dr. Liora Las)   (24/4/2012 – NOTE: Tuesday, 9-11, FGS Room C)     [PDF]
7. Example system #3: Multisensory integration in the brain of the barn owl. (Guest lecture by: Dr. Yoram Gutfreund, Technion)   (2/5/2012)     [PDF]
8. Example system #4: Echolocation in bats: behavior, principles of biosonar signal design, neural processing.   (9/5/2012)     [PDF]
9. Example system #5: 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.  The navigation circuits in the mammalian brain: Place cells, grid cells, head-direction cells.   (16/5/2012)     [PDF]
Part C:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuropsychological approach  (Paz)
10. Introduction: Basic concepts, standard behavioral tasks.  Example system #6: The representation and production of voluntary movement in the brain. Computational models of artificial and natural movements.   (30/5/2012)    [PDF]
11. Example system #7: Reinforcement Learning.  Reward and its representation in neural circuits.   (Guest lecture by: Dr. Genela Morris, Haifa University)   (6/6/2012)    [PDF]
12. Example system #8: Fear and its representation in neural circuits.   (13/6/2012)    [PDF]

Course requirements: Final 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)