Introduction to Neuroscience: Systems Neuroscience - Concepts and Methods (2012-2013)

Lecturers: Dr. Nachum Ulanovsky (coordinator), Prof. Ehud Ahissar, Dr. Rony Paz, Dr. Elad Schneidman, Prof. Rafi Malach, Prof. Noam Sobel, Prof. Ilan Lampl, Prof. Yadin Dudai, Dr. Eyal Cohen

Time:  The 1st semester of 2012-2013.  Meetings take place on Wednesdays, between 9:00 – 12:00, at Schmidt Lecture Hall (unless otherwise written below).

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 is 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.  (Ulanovsky)     [7/11/2012]
[Reading – Kandel chs. 17, 18]     [Lecture]
2. Moving: Movement generation –  Peripheral and central processes.  (Paz)     [21/11/2012]   
[Reading – Kandel chs. 33, 34, 38 ; optional – ch. 43]     [Lecture]
3. Seeing: Peripheral visual processes.  (Schneidman)     [28/11/2012]    
[Reading – Kandel ch. 26]     [Lecture]     [Compulsory reading for exam - Schneidman]
4. Seeing: Central visual processes.  (Malach)     [5/12/2012]    
[Reading – Kandel chs. 27, 28]     [Lecture]
5. Hearing  (and balance): Peripheral and central processes.  (Ulanovsky)     [12/12/2012 – Reich seminar room, Yaglom]    
[Reading – Purves chs. 12, 13]     [Lecture]
6. Smelling and tasting: Peripheral and central processes.  (Sobel)     [19/12/2012]    
[Reading – Kandel ch. 32]     [Sobel prefers NOT to post his powerpoint presentation here, and instead he expects students to read the book chapter – Kandel ch. 32 – on which questions will be given in the exam.]
7. Touching: Peripheral and central processes.   (Ahissar)     [26/12/2012]    
[Reading – Purves ch. 8 + Kandel ch. 23]     [Lecture]
8. Active sensing: Closing motor-sensory loops.  (Ahissar)     [2/1/2013]    
[Reading – Purves chs. 15, 19]     [Lecture]
9. Mechanisms of stimulus feature selectivity in sensory systems.  (Lampl)    [3/1/2013 (Thursday) – special lecture, between 11:00 – 14:00, FGS room C.]     [Lecture]
10. The cerebellum in motor learning and cognition.  (Eyal Cohen)    [9/1/2013]    
[Reading – Kandel ch. 42]     [Lecture]
11. Remembering: Overview of memory systems.  (Dudai)    [16/1/2013]    
[Reading – Dudai]     [Lecture]
12. Learning: Basal ganglia and amygdala.  (Paz)    [23/1/2013]    
[Reading – Paz:  Kandel ch. 62 + Two review papers]     [Lecture]
13. The hippocampus in spatial navigation and memory consolidation.  (Ulanovsky)    [30/1/2013]    
[Reading – "The Hippocampus Book" ch. 11]     [Compulsory reading for exam - Ulanovsky]     [Lecture]
14. Methodologies used to study brain systems: Basic assumptions and approaches. Measuring neural activity (electrophysiology and imaging); shutting down neural activity (lesions, pharmacological inactivation, optogenetics); perturbing of neural activity (microstimulation and opto-stimulation); opening the loop at the behavioral and neural levels.  (Ahissar)     [31/1/2013 (Thursday) – special lecture, between 11:00 – 14:00,  Reich seminar room – Neurobiology dept.]     [Lecture]

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).