Intro. to Neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroscience (2019-2020)


Times of Lectures below are correct -- and will be delivered as scheduled, either remotally via Zoom (if the coronavirus lockdown continues) or frontally (if the coronavirus situations will be over).


Lecturers: Prof. Nachum Ulanovsky, Dr. Saikat Ray, Prof. Rony Paz.

Time: The 2'nd semester of 2019-2020.  Meetings take place on Thursdays, from 11:15 - 14:00, 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  (Ray)
1. Introduction to Behavior.   (20/4/2020)   [NOTE: special date.  Monday 11:15-14:00.  Location: Wolfson auditorium (the usual location)]     [Intro to the course]    [Lecture - PDF]    [Lecture - Powerpoint with Movies]
2. Neurobiology of social behaviors.     (23/4/2020)     [Lecture - PDF]    [Lecture - Powerpoint with Movies]
Part B:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuroethological approach  (Ulanovsky)
3. Sensory ecology: evolutionary adaptations of animal sensory systems to their environment.   (27/4/2020)      [NOTE: special date.  Monday 11:15-14:00.  Location: Wolfson auditorium (the usual location)]      [Lecture PDF]    [Movies]
4. Example system #1: Echolocation in bats: Sensory ecology, echolocation behavior, principles of biosonar signal design, neural processing.   (30/4/2020)     [Lecture PDF]    [Movies]
5. Example system #2: Multisensory integration in the brain of the barn owl.  (Guest lecture by Prof. Yoram Gutfreund, Technion)    (7/5/2020)     [Lecture PDF]
6. Example system #3: The bird song system: behavior, neuroanatomy, physiology, models.  (Guest lecture by Dr. Liora Las, Weizmann Institute)   (14/5/2020)     [Lecture PDF]
7. 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, etc.   (21/5/2020)     [Lecture PDF]    [Movies]
8. Summary of the neuroethological approach.  Choosing the right behavior and the right animal model.  Natural Neuroscience.  Comparative Neuroscience.   (4/6/2020)     [Lecture PDF]  
Part C:  Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuropsychological approach  (Paz)
9. Introduction: Basic concepts, standard behavioral tasks.  Example system #5: Reinforcement learning.     (Guest lecture by Dr. Genela Morris)    (11/6/2020)     [Lecture PDF]
10. Example system #6: Fear learning and its neural circuits.   (18/6/2020)     [Lecture PDF]
11. Example system #7: Decision-making in the brain.   (25/6/2020)     [Lecture PDF]
12. Visual psychophysics, visual perception.  (Guest lecture by Prof. Dubi Sagi, Weizmann Institute)    (2/7/2020)

Course requirements: Final exam.


We will use three main textbooks in this course:

  • Behavioral Neurobiology, An integrative approach, 3'rd ed., Zupanc G. (Oxford, 2018)
  • 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, 4'th 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).