Neuroscience
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Amherst College Neuroscience for 2013-14

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226.) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Baird and Trapani.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

301 Molecular Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 301 and NEUR 301.)  An analysis of the molecules and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function, development, and disease.  We will explore the proteins that contribute to the unique structure and function of neurons, including an in-depth analysis of synaptic communication and the molecular processes that modify synapses.  We will also study the molecular mechanisms that control brain development, from neurogenesis, neurite growth and synaptogenesis to cell death and degeneration.  In addition to analyzing neural function, throughout the course we will also study nervous system dysfunction resulting when such molecular mechanisms fail, leading to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.  Readings from primary literature will emphasize current molecular techniques utilized in the study of the nervous system.  Three classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite:  BIOL 191 and CHEM 161.  Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2013-14.  Professor Graf.

2014-15: Not offered

325 Psychopharmacology

(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325.)  In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Turgeon.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

351 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351.)  This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. Laboratories will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. Three classroom hours and three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 24 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Fall semester.  Professor Trapani.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356.)  This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Baird.

2014-15: Not offered

359 Hormones and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 359 and NEUR 359.)  This course will examine the influence of hormones on brain and behavior. We will introduce basic endocrine (hormone) system physiology and discuss the different approaches that researchers take to address questions of hormone-behavior relationships.  We will consider evidence from both the human and the animal literature for the role of hormones in sexual differentiation (the process by which we become male or female), sexual behavior, parental behavior, stress, aggression, cognitive function, and affective disorders.    

Requisite: PSYC 212 or NEUR 226.  Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Turgeon.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2012

390, 490 Special Topics

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Committee.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

425 Proseminar: Research and Writing

The general topic for this proseminar may change from year to year. In 2012-13 the course will emphasize research and writing skills on topics related to behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of hormones and/or neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning in memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a 20-30 page review paper and a subsequent research proposal. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for a thesis research project and to provide a research-intensive experience for seniors who do not elect to conduct an honors thesis. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major. 

Limited to junior and senior Neuroscience majors or by permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2013

450 Seminar in Physiology: Classic Papers in Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 450 and NEUR 450.)  Concentrating on reading and interpreting primary research, this course will focus on classic and soon-to-be classic neurophysiology papers. We will discuss the seminal experiments performed in the 1950s that led to our understanding of action potentials; experiments in the 1960s and 1970s that unlocked how synapses function; and more recent research that combines electrophysiology with optical methods and genetic techniques to investigate the role of many of the molecular components predicted by the work from the earlier decades. Assignments will include written reviews of literature as well as oral presentations.

Requisite: PHYS 117 or PHYS 124 and one of NEUR 226, BIOL 260, BIOL 351, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Trapani.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double course spring semester.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

498D Departmental Honors Courses

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course fall semester. Double credit for fall semester (used by "E" seniors graduating after Fall semester).

Fall semester. The Committee.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

499 Departmental Honors Course.

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research. Full course spring semester. Used by "E" seniors graduating in the next Fall semester.

Spring semester. The Committee.

2014-15: Not offered
 

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