Intro. to Neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroscience (2017-2018)

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

Time: The 2nd semester of 2017-2018.  Meetings take place on Thursdays, from 9:15 - 12:00, at Wolfson Auditorium (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.   (15/3/2018)    [PDF-Intro]    [PDF-lecture]
2. Hormones, genes and behavior: Mechanisms underlying social and reproductive behaviors.   (22/3/2018)    [PDF]
3. Neurobiology of social behaviors.   (29/3/2018)     [PDF]
Part B:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuroethological approach  (Ulanovsky)
4. Sensory ecology: evolutionary adaptations of animal sensory systems to their environment.   (26/4/2018)     [PDF]   [Movies]
5. Example system #1: Echolocation in bats: Sensory ecology, echolocation behavior, principles of biosonar signal design, neural processing.   (10/5/2018)     [PDF]    [Movies]
6. Example system #2: Multisensory integration in the brain of the barn owl.  (Guest lecture by Prof. Yoram Gutfreund, Technion)    (17/5/2018)     [PDF]
7. Example system #3: The bird song system: behavior, neuroanatomy, physiology, models.  (Guest lecture by Dr. Liora Las, Weizmann Institute)   (24/5/2018)     [PDF]
8. Example system #4: Neurobiology of spatial cognition.  Introduction to spatial memory 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.   (29/5/2018)   [NOTE: special date.  Tuesday 9:15-12:00.  Location: Ebner auditorium]     [PDF]    [Movies]
9. Summary of the neuroethological approach.  Choosing the right behavior and the right animal model.  Natural Neuroscience.  Comparative Neuroscience.   (31/5/2018)     [PDF]
Part C:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuropsychological approach  (Paz)
10. Introduction: Basic concepts, standard behavioral tasks.  Example system #5: Reward-based learning and its neural basis.   (Guest lecture by Dr. Genela Morris, Haifa University)    (7/6/2018)     [PDF]
11. Example system #6: Fear learning and its neural circuits.   (19/6/2018)   [NOTE: special date.  Tuesday 9:15-12:00.  Location: Candiotti auditorium]     [PDF]
12. Example system #7: Decision-making in the brain.   (28/6/2018)    [NOTE: Special  Location: Botner Auditorium (Belfer bldg.).  The usual time (9:15-12:00).]     [PDF]
13. Psychophysics: (i) Basic concepts, how to measure JND’s, signal detection theory and ROC.  (ii) Visual psychophysics.   (Guest lecture by: Prof. Dubi Sagi, Weizmann Institute)   [5/7/2018]

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).