Introduction to Neuroscience: Systems Neuroscience (2020-2021)

Lecturers: Prof. Nachum Ulanovsky (coordinator), Prof. Ehud Ahissar, Prof. Rony Paz, Dr. Michal Rivlin, Prof. Rafi Malach, Prof. Noam Sobel, Prof. Ilan Lampl, Prof. Yadin Dudai, Prof. Shabtai Barash, Dr. Eyal Cohen. Dr. Takashi Kawashima, Prof. Ofer Yizhar.

Time:  The 1'st semester of 2020-2021.  Meetings take place on Wednesdays, between 9:15 – 12:00 (unless written otherwise below).  Location: ZOOM ; the Zoom links will be sent in advance to the registered students.

The brain underlies our ability to perceive, move, remember, think.  This course will introduce students to the major systems of the brain, which underlie these abilities – focusing on sensory, motor and memory systems.  The course will start with classical "textbook" concepts and methods in the field of Systems Neuroscience, but will then emphasize contemporary approaches, concepts and debates.

REMARKS: As is the case for most of the Neuroscience courses at Weizmann, the students in this course come from heterogeneous backgrounds, including biology, physics, computer science, psychology, and engineering.  Some of the course material may be familiar to students who took neuroscience courses during their undergraduate studies – but the more advanced material in this course will be well beyond the scope of typical undergraduate courses.  We will provide book chapters as background reading; these chapters will serve as a refresher reading for those students that did learn some neuroscience in the past, and are highly recommended for those students who have no background at all in neuroscience (see more below).    NOTE: several of the teachers did provide compulsory reading material for the exam (indicated near the relevant lectures).

Syllabus  (week by week):
1. Overview of brain systems and general principles of their functional organization: From cortical maps and subcortical loops to the micro-structure of brain circuits and their interconnections.  Brief overview of methodologies used to study brain systems.   (Ulanovsky)     [28/10/2020]     [PDF]
[Compulsory reading for the exam – Kandel chs. 17, 18]
2. Moving: Movement generation –  Peripheral and central processes.  (Paz)     [1/11/2020 (Sunday), 14:15-17:00 - SPECIAL DATE]      [PDF]
[Compulsory reading for the exam – Kandel chs. 33, 34, 38 ; optional – ch. 43]

Seeing: Peripheral visual processes.  (Rivlin)    [4/11/2020]      [PDF]
[Reading – Kandel ch. 26 ; Review papers]

4. Seeing: Central visual processes.  (Malach)     [11/11/2020]      [PDF]
[Reading – Kandel chs. 27, 28]
5. Smelling: Peripheral and central processes.  (Sobel)     [15/11/2020 (Sunday), 14:15-17:00 - SPECIAL DATE]  
[Reading – Kandel ch. 32 + review paper]     [Compulsory reading for the exam - This Review paper]    [Sobel prefers NOT to post his powerpoint presentation here, and instead he expects students to read the Review paper marked here as "compulsory reading material" – on which questions will be given in the exam.]
6. Hearing  (and balance): Peripheral and central processes.  (Ulanovsky)     [18/11/2020]      [PDF]
[Reading – Purves chs. 12, 13]
7. Mechanisms of stimulus feature selectivity in sensory systems.  (Lampl)    [25/11/2020]      [PPT]
8. Touching: Peripheral and central processes.   (Ahissar)     [2/12/2020]      [PDF]
[Reading – Purves ch. 8 + Kandel ch. 23]
9. Active sensing: Closing motor-sensory loops.  (Ahissar)     [9/12/2020]      [PDF]
[Reading – Purves chs. 15, 19]

Looking and seeing: mind-body interactions between periphery, brainstem and cortex.   (Barash)    [16/12/2020]       [PDF]
[Compulsory reading for the exam - Purves chs. 20, 29]

11. Remembering: Overview of memory systems.   (Dudai)    [23/12/2020]     [PDF]
[Reading – Dudai: papers to read -- The reading of all these papers is highly recommended ; the reading of (a) Dudai 2012 + (b) Josselyn & Tonegawa 2020 is REQUIRED for the exam]
12. The cerebellum in motor learning and cognition.  (Eyal Cohen)    [30/12/2020]     [PDF]   
[Reading – Kandel ch. 42]
13. Learning: Basal ganglia.  (Rivlin)    [6/1/2021]     [PDF]  
[Reading – Kandel ch. 43 + Two review papers]

Modulating: Neuromodulatory systems of the brain.  (Kawashima)    [13/1/2021]      [PDF

[Reading – Review Papers

15. Integrating: The prefrontal cortex.  (Yizhar)    [20/1/2021]     [PDF
16. Integrating: The hippocampus in spatial navigation and memory consolidation.  (Ulanovsky)    [27/1/2021]     [PDF]     
[Reading – "The Hippocampus Book" ch. 11]     [Compulsory reading for the exam - Two review papers]

Course requirements: Final exam.
Most lectures will be accompanied by 1-2 short textbook chapters that will be posted on the course website; they will be posted in advance, before each lecture.  These book chapters are not mandatory for the exam – i.e. we will NOT test about them in the exam.  However, we WILL expect students to read the posted book chapters before each lesson, so they can better follow the lesson. We expect this from students even if they did learn some neuroscience in the past (but may have forgotten some very basic material) - but we certainly expect this home-reading from those students who have no previous background in neuroscience.
NOTE: several of the teachers did provide compulsory reading material, which will be included in material for the exam (indicated near the relevant lectures).