Center For Neuroscience


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Cellular & Molecular Neurobiology I

This course is the first component of the introductory graduate sequence designed to provide an overview of cellular and molecular aspects of neuroscience. Nerve cell biology, protein chemistry, regulation of gene expression, receptor function, and second messenger signaling will be covered in a lecture format. A background in basic biology or permission of the instructor is required.
Instructor: L. Lillien
Offerings: Fall term

Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 2

This course is the second component of the introductory graduate sequence designed to provide an overview of cellular and molecular aspects of neuroscience. This course covers the electrical properties of neurons, synaptic transmission, and neural development. A background in basic biology or permission of the instructor is required.
Instructor: L. Lillien
Offerings: Fall term

This course is a component of the introductory graduate sequence designed to provide an overview of neuroscience. The course provides an introduction to the structure of the mammalian nervous system and to the functional organization of sensory systems, motor systems, regulatory systems, and systems involved in higher brain functions. It is taught primarily in a lecture format with some laboratory work. Prerequisite: MSNBIO OR NROSCI 2100 and 2101 (Cellular & Molecular Neurobiology 1 and 2), or INTBP 2000 (Foundations in Biomedical Science), or permission of the instructor.
Instructor: R. Turner
Offerings: Spring term


Grant Writing

The course will cover the fundamentals of grant writing with a focus on NIH style pre-doctoral grants. Through a combination of lectures and student led critiques and discussions, students will work their way through the essential components of a fundable proposal starting with specific aims and ending with an introduction to a revised application. Students will generate each component of a grant application that will be critiqued by faculty and the other members of the class.
Instructor: B. Davis, M. Gold
Offerings: Fall term

Journal Club

Students present their research, or a recent research article from a range of topics selected by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor. Emphasis is placed on careful analysis and critical evaluation of the manuscript as well as the development of teaching and speaking skills needed for scientific presentation. The student is expected to elucidate issues relevant to the topic and to answer questions from other graduate students and faculty during this course, which meets weekly.
Offerings: Fall & Spring terms

Pro Seminar

Members of the training faculty present an overview of the topic in which he or she works.
Instructor: A. Sved
Offerings: Fall term

Scientific Ethics

The course is an introduction to basic ethical issues that arise in the course of conducting scientific research. It is intended for graduate students in the Center for Neuroscience who have completed at least one year of graduate work. The course will be composed of informal lecture presentations followed by class discussion of issues.
Instructor: A. Sved
Offerings: Spring term

Seminar Series

Nationally and internationally recognized neuroscience researchers present scientific findings. Students meet with speakers to discuss seminar topics.
Offerings: Fall & Spring terms

Statistics Course

See electives for course offerings.

Directed Study

Students doing laboratory research with a Neuroscience faculty member who have not yet passed their Reprint Examination should register for this course.
Offerings: Fall, Spring, & Summer terms

Independent Study

Students doing laboratory research with a Neuroscience faculty member should register for this course. Students must have passed their Reprint Examination before registration.
Offerings: Fall, Spring, & Summer terms

Research and Dissertation PhD

Students doing laboratory research with a Neuroscience faculty member should register for this course. Students must have passed their Comprehensive Examination before registration.
Offerings: Fall, Spring, & Summer terms




Advanced Cell Biology (CMU 03-741)

This course covers fourteen topics in which significant recent advances or controversies have been reported. For each topic there is a background lecture by the instructor, student presentations of the relevant primary research articles and a general class discussion. Example topics are: extracellular matrix control of normal and cancer cell cycles, force generating mechanisms in trans-membrane protein translocation, signal transduction control of cell motility, and a molecular mechanism for membrane fusion.

Biological Imaging and Fluorescence Spectroscopy- 3 cr (CMU 03-534)

Fluorescence detection is a powerful technology that is the basis of most biomedical imaging, high speed flow cytometry, cell sorting, DNA sequencing, gene expression arrays, diagnostics and drug discovery. It is not surprising, then, that it is the basis of many commercial technology organizations with billions of dollars in sales. It is almost impossible to turn the page of a biomedical journal without seeing multicolor images acquired with powerful microscopes and fluorescent probes of cell structure and function. The sensitivity of fluorescence detection is so high that single biological molecules can be monitored as they function in living cells. This course covers principles and applications of optical methods in the study of structure and function in biological systems. Topics to be covered include: absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy; interaction of light with biological molecules, cells, and systems; design of fluorescent probes and optical biosensor molecules; genetically expressible optical probes; photochemistry; optics and image formation; transmitted-light and fluorescence microscope systems; laser-based systems; scanning microscopes; electronic detectors and cameras: image processing; multi-mode imaging systems; microscopy of living cells; and the optical detection of membrane potential, molecular assembly, transcription, enzyme activity, and the action of molecular motors. This course is particularly aimed at students in science and engineering interested in gaining in-depth knowledge of modern light microscopy.

Molecular Mechanics Tissue Growth & Differn-3 cr (MSCMP 2730)

The course covers the anatomy, embryology, histology, function, and growth regulation (growth factors, receptors, and signaling pathways) of various differentiated tissues (central nervous system, lung, liver, pancreas, urinary and reproductive systems, breast, endocrine system, skin, bone, skeletal muscle, bone marrow). Multidisciplinary lectures are given by the members of the departments of pathology, cell biology and physiology, medicine, and surgery who have ongoing research in these areas.

Neuropharmacology- 3 cr (MSNBIO 2614)

This course will broadly review neuropharmacology and neurobiology, study monoamine, cholinergic, and GPCR biology, and explore the blood-brain barrier and its significance to neuropharmacology. The course will focus on the molecular mechanisms of a drug action for different classes of compounds including, but not limited to, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-epileptics, anesthetics, weight loss, stimulants, neuroprotective, addiction, pain, and migraine drugs. In addition to the formal lectures the course will emphasize critical reading of the primary literature through journal-club style discussions and cover the most recent treatment and therapeutic avenues being developed for a broad range of neurologic and psychiatric disorders. The course is ideally suited for Molecular Pharmacology and Neuroscience graduate students or any other graduate student with an interest in neurological diseases and their treatments. The course is also appropriate for pre-professional undergraduates who have completed 4 semesters of chemistry and 2 semesters of biology.

Stem Cells- 3 cr (MSCMP 3740)

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of stem cell biology - an intriguing & a most-debated research area. The course will focus on the biology of stem cells & their role in health & disease with emphasis on development & carcinogenesis. Trans-differentiation of stem cells for tissue engineering applications will also be discussed. Lectures & student presentations will cover: embryonic as well as fetal & adult stem cells in blood, liver, brain, muscle, kidney, pancreas & gut. Students will also be educated on bioethical issues & existing laws governing stem cell research.

Molecular Pharmacology- 2 cr (MSMPHL 3360)

This course examines molecular mechanisms of drug interactions with an emphasis on drugs that modulate cell signaling, cellular responses to drugs, and drug discovery. The course will include student participation through presentations and discussion of relevant contemporary scientific literature. Topics include: cell cycle checkpoints and anti-cancer drugs, therapeutic control of ion channels, and blood glucose, anti-inflammatory agents and nuclear receptor signaling, and molecular mechanisms of drugs used for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Principles of Pharmacology- 3 cr (MSMPHL 2310)

This course consists of a series of lectures and tutorial sessions that focus on the general principles of pharmacology. Major topics are principles of pharmacokinetics (including drug absorption, distribution, and metabolism), pharmacodynamics (quantitation of drug-receptor interactions) and mechanisms of action of cardiovascular and autonomic drugs. In addition, this course will include both animal laboratory and human simulator demonstrations that illustrate important pharmacological principles discussed in class.

Advanced Developmental Biology- 2 cr (MSNBIO 2612)

This course will examine selected topics in developmental biology at an advanced level. Topics may include pattern formation in insects, cell lineage analysis, cell-cell interactions and the specification of cell fates, cell adhesion molecules, genetic approaches to mammalian embryo genesis and the extracellular matrix in development. Emphasis will be placed on the critical reading of papers and classroom discussion.

Developmental Neuroscience- 3 cr (NROSCI 2041)

This course is designed to provide an overview of principles that govern the developmental assembly of a complex nervous system. Topics covered include formation of neural tube and neural crest, birth and proliferation of neurons, cell migration, neuronal differentiation, synapse formation, synaptic plasticity, development of CNS circuits, and behavior. These topics will be discussed in the context of experimental results obtained by anatomical, biochemical and electrophysiological techniques using vertebrate and invertebrate animals.


Molecular Pathobiology- 3 cr (MSCMP 2740)

Some representative of major disease categories (autoimmune, inflammatory, toxic, degenerative, infectious, genetic, and neoplastic) will be examined in terms of patient demographics (who), gross and microscopic morphology (what), and etiology/molecular mechanisms (why).


Perception- 3 cr (CMU 85-770)

Perception, broadly defined, is the construction of a representation of the external world, for purposes of thinking about it and acting in it. Although we often think of perception as the processing of inputs to the sense organs, the world conveyed by the senses is ambiguous, and cognitive and sensory systems interact to interpret it. In this course, we will examine the sensory-level mechanisms involved in perception by various sensory modalities, including vision, audition, and touch. We will learn how sensory coding interacts with top-down processing based on context and prior knowledge and how perception changes with learning and development. The goals include not only imparting basic knowledge about perception, but fostering an appreciation for the beauty of perceptual systems and providing some new insights into everyday experiences.

Cognitive Neuroscience- 3 cr (NROSCI 2005)

This course will cover fundamental findings & approaches in cognitive neuroscience, with the goal of providing an over view of the field at an advanced level. Topics will include high-level vision, spatial cognition, working memory, long term memory, learning, language, executive control, and emotion. Each topic will be approached from a variety of methodological directions, i.e. Computational modeling, cognitive assessment in brain-damaged humans, non-invasive brain monitoring in humans and single-neuron recording in animals. Lectures will alternate with sessions in seminar format.

Cognitive Neuropsychology- 3 cr (CMU 85-714)

This course will review what has been learned of the neural bases of cognition through studies of brain-damaged patients as well as newer techniques such as brain stimulation mapping, regional metabolic and blood flow imaging, and attempt to relate these clinical and physiological data to theories of the mind cast in information-processing terms. The course will be organized into units corresponding to the traditionally-defined subfields of cognitive psychology such as perception, memory and language. In each area, we will ask: To what extent do the neurological phenomena make contact with the available cognitive theories? When they do, what are their implications for these theories (i.e., Can we confirm or disconfirm particular cognitive theories using neurological data?)? When they do not, what does this tell us about the parses of the mind imposed by the theories and methodologies of cognitive psychology and neuropsychology?


Computer Vision- 3 cr (CMU 15-385)

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to computer vision. Major topics include image processing, detection and recognition, geometry-based and physics-based vision and video analysis. Students will learn basic concepts of computer vision as well as hands on experience to solve real-life vision problems.

Computational Neuroscience Methods- 3 cr (MATH 3375)

This course offers an introduction to modeling methods in neuroscience. Topics range from modeling the firing patterns of single neurons to using computational methods to understand neural coding. Some systems level modeling is also done.

Computational Perception and Scene Analysis- 4 cr (CMU 15-485/785)

The goal of this course is to teach how to reason scientifically about problems and issues in perceptual cognition, how to extract the essential computational properties of those abstract ideas, and finally how to convert these into explicit mathematical models and computational algorithms. The course teaches advanced aspects of perception, scene analysis, and recognition in both the visual and auditory modalities, concentrating on those aspects that allow us and animals to behave in natural, complex environments. Both the experimental approaches of scientific disciplines and the computational approaches of engineering disciplines are emphasized. Each topic in the course begins by studying the ethology of natural behaviors, analyzing and decomposing these to identify the essential components that are required for the total behavior in a natural environment. This aspect of the course follows the lines of scientific reasoning and key experimental results that lead to our current understanding of the important computational problems in perception and scene analysis. The course then surveys the most important solutions to these problems, focusing on the idealizations and simplifications that are sensory coding, perceptual invariance, spatial vision and sound localization, visual and auditory scene segmentation, many aspects of attention, and the basics of objects and speech recognition.

Prerequisites: 15-385 or 85-370

Computational Models of Neural Systems- 4 cr (CMU 15-883)

This course is an in-depth study of information processing in real neural systems from a computer science perspective. We will examine several brain areas, such as the hippocampus and cerebellum, where processing is sufficiently well understood that it can be discussed in terms of specific representations and algorithms. We will focus primarily on computer models of these systems after establishing the necessary anatomical, physiological, and psychophysical context. There will be some neuroscience tutorial lectures for those with no prior background in this area.
The prerequisite for this course is prior familiarity with either computer science or neuroscience. Computer science students should have a graduate level understanding of at least one of artificial intelligence, machine learning, or computer vision. Neuroscience students should have had at least some prior exposure to computation, such as an undergraduate programming class.

Intro to Parallel Distributed Processing- 3 cr (CMU 85-719)

The goal of the course is to introduce the basic principles of parallel distributed processing (also known as connectionist or neural network modeling) and to illustrate how these principles provide insight into human perceptual, linguistic, and cognitive behavior. In addition, the course will cover some issues in neural and cognitive development, cognitive impairments due to brain damage, and some basic computational issues. The course also attempts to introduce the general practice of studying cognition through computational modeling and analysis. There will be computer simulation exercises in addition to readings. Homework assignments will generally require you to report the results of simulations you have carried out, to analyze these results, and to think critically about some issues raised in the readings. There will also be a final project that will typically involve simulation modeling.


Human Physiology- 4 cr (NROSCI 2070)

Lectures and reading on the following: (1) functions of the cardiovascular system; (2) respiration; (3) digestion and absorption in the gut; (4) kidney function and the regulation of body fluids; (5) the regulation of metabolism; and (6) reproduction.

Functional Neuroanatomy- 3cr (NROSCI 2011)

This course deals with human neuroanatomy and covers the basic structure of the central nervous system from spinal cord to cerebral cortex. Emphasis is placed on major systems and subsystems within the brain, and on their function al significance. The basic structure and morphology of nerve cells will be covered.


Historical Perspectives in Neuroscience- 2 cr (MSNBIO 2135)

This seminar course explores the origins and evolution of modern neuroscientific concepts from the 17th and mid-20th centuries. Discussions of primary and secondary source material will focus on understanding the role of contemporary philosophical, scientific, social and technological factors in the development of neuroscientific thought. Another goal is to develop an appreciation of their contributions to current neuroscientific dogma.