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Amherst College Neuroscience for 2019-20

213 Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior

(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

214 Neurobiology

(Offered as BIOL 214 and NEUR 214) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course explores the basic functions of neurons and synapses as well as neural mechanisms of sensation at molecular, cellular, circuit and system levels. Basic topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology will be covered with emphasis on neuroscience history and understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191. Limited to 45 students. Fall semester. Professor Roche.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of 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 and 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 research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

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. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 161. Limited to 24 students. Spring semester. Professor Roche.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

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, PSYC/NEUR 226, or NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

350 Neurophysiology

(Offered as BIOL 350 and NEUR 350) 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 lecture hours, plus a fourth discussion hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to 12 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2019-20, Professor Trapani.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

351 Neurophysiology with Lab

(Offered as BIOL 351 and NEUR 351) This laboratory 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. Lecture meetings will be combined with BIOL 350 students for three classroom hours plus a fourth hour to be used for group work, paper presentations, and review sessions. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisites: BIOL 191 and CHEM 151; PHYS 117 or 124 is recommended. Limited to one lab section with 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Trapani.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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, addiction, 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. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Baird.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

361 Consciousness and the Brain

(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.

Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Cohen.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018

367 Human Neuroscience

(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.

Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Cohen.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

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.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

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 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Trapani.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019

498, 499D, 498D, 499 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.

Fall semester. The Committee.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018