Intro. to Neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroscience (2015-2016)

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

Time: The 2nd semester of 2015-2016.  Meetings take place on Wednesdays, from 11:15 - 14:00, 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)
1. Introduction to Behavior.   (16/3/2016)
2. Hormonal mechanisms of behavior.  Sexual behaviors and their neural mechanisms.   (23/3/2016)
3. Animal models of social disorders.   (30/3/2016)
Part B:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuroethological approach  (Ulanovsky)
4. Sensory ecology: evolutionary adaptations of animal sensory systems to their environment.   (Thursday 14/4/2016 at 11:15 - 14:00, at Schmidt lecture hall -- Note unusual day & unusual location)     [PDF]
5. Basic concepts: neuroscience and neuroethology.  Choosing the right behavior and the right animal model.  Example system #1: Introduction to Electrolocation.   (20/4/2016)     [PDF]
6. Example system #2: Multisensory integration in the brain of the barn owl. (Guest lecture by Dr. Yoram Gutfreund, Technion)    (4/5/2016)     [PDF]
7. Example system #3: The bird song system: behavior, neuroanatomy, physiology, models. (Guest lecture by Dr. Liora Las, Weizmann Institute)   (18/5/2016)     [PDF]     [Songs]
8. Example system #4: Echolocation in bats: behavior, principles of biosonar signal design, neural processing.  (25/5/2016)     [PDF]     [Movies]
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.   (1/6/2016)     [PDF]     [Movies]
Part C:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuropsychological approach  (Paz)
10. Introduction: Basic concepts, standard behavioral tasks.  Example system #6: Fear and its representation in neural circuits.  (Guest lecture by Dr. Aryeh Taub, Weizmann Institute)   (8/6/2016)     [PDF]
11. Example system #7: Reinforcement Learning.  Reward and its representation in neural circuits.   (Guest lecture by Dr. Genela Morris, Haifa University)   (15/6/2016)     [PDF]
12. Psychophysics: (i) Basic concepts, how to measure JND’s, signal detection theory and ROC.  (ii) Visual psychophysics.  (iii) Other senses.   (Guest lecture by: Prof. Dubi Sagi, Weizmann Institute)   [22/6/2016]     [PDF]

Course requirements: Final exam.

We will use three main textbooks in this course:

  • Behavioral Neurobiology, An integrative approach, 2nd ed., Zupanc G. (Oxford, 2010)
  • Behavioral Neurobiology, Carew J. (Sinauer, 2000)
  • Learning and Behavior, Bouton M. (Sinauer, 2007)

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

  • Sensory Ecology, Dusenbery D. (Freeman, 1992)
  • An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology, 4th ed., Nelson R. (Sinauer, 2011) 
  • Neuroeconomics: Decision making and the Brain, 2nd ed., Glimcher P. and Fehr E. (Academic Press, 2013)
  • Neural nets in Electric Fish, Heiligenberg W. (MIT Press, 1991).