Courses

  • NSC 5203
  • NSC 5461
  • NSC 5462
  • NSC 5551
  • NSC 5561
  • NSC 5661
  • NSC 5203

    Neuroscience of Vision

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors:
    Paulo Kofuji, PhD
    Linda Kirschen McLoon, PhD

    This neuroscience course is a comprehensive introduction to the visual system, focusing on the structure and function of the visual system both in health and disease. Anatomical, cellular, physiological and behavioral aspects of visual neuroscience will be discussed. Topics that will be covered include: anatomy of the eye and orbit, development of the visual system, cornea and lens, glaucoma and aqueous humor, phototransduction, neural circuitry of the retina, glial function in the retina, central mechanisms of vision, psychophysics of vision, retinopathies and neurodegeneration in the retina and the brain. The course is intended for graduate students in neuroscience, psychology and other biomedical disciplines, but is also appropriate for advanced undergraduate students in the biomedical sciences, particularly those bound for medical and graduate school.

  • NSC 5461

    Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors: 
    Eric A. Newman, PhD

    NSC 5461 uses contemporary cellular and molecular approaches to learn about the nervous system. The course includes both class sessions led by a team of faculty, where group discussions and exercises are held, and journal discussion sessions, where students present original research papers. Required for first-year students in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, the course is also appropriate for graduate students in other programs and advanced undergraduates with previous background in neuroscience.

  • NSC 5462

    Neuroscience Principles of Drug Abuse

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors: 
    Robert L. Meisel, PhD

    This course addresses current research on drugs of abuse, their mechanisms of action, characteristics shared by various agents, and neural systems affected by them. Course requirements include participation in discussions of current literature and writing a paper.

  • NSC 5551

    Itasca Cell And Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

    Semesters Offered:
    Summer

    Instructors:
    Paulo Kofuji, PhD

    The Neuroscience Graduate Program offers a 5-week laboratory course exploring basic neurobiology on the campus of the Lake Itasca Forestry and Biology Station in northern Minnesota. Each week covers a separate subject and is taught by a veteran team of faculty from the University of Minnesota and an occasional visiting faculty. Each part of the course provides didactic instruction in some area of fundamental neurobiology along with a number of experimental problems for students to solve using modern experimental techniques, equipment and facilities. The setting for the course, in a pine forest on the shore of Lake Itasca, provides an atmosphere for uninterrupted study and close interaction between faculty and students.

  • NSC 5561

    Systems Neuroscience

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors:
    Lucy Vulchanova, PhD

    NSC 5561 will provide a contemporary understanding of the structure and function of neural systems. These are the systems of neurons that form the bases for sensation and movement, as well as sensory-motor and neural-endocrine integration. Required for first-year students in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, the course is also appropriate for graduate students in other programs and advanced undergraduates with previous background in neuroscience.

  • NSC 5661

    Behavioral Neuroscience

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors:
    Mark Masimo, PhD

    Behavioral Neuroscience is a course that will explore the underlying cellular mechanisms that enable an animal to solve and respond to particular problems encountered in its natural environment. Many of the animal systems presented are those that not only exhibit interesting behaviors, but have been studied in enough detail that they illustrate important and conserved principles of neural organization. The course is comparative in nature and will highlight successful neural strategies and behavioral skills used by a diverse array of animals, from insects to humans.

  • NSC 6112
  • NSC 8211
  • NSC 8217
  • NSC 8221
  • NSC 8320
  • NSC 8321
  • NSC/PHM/MVB 8481
  • NSC 6112

    Medical Neuroscience

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors:
    Matthew Chafee, PhD

  • NSC 8211

    Developmental Neurobiology

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    During development of the nervous system, a diverse array of neuronal and glial cell types is generated. These neuronal types are defined by unique morphological, physiological and biochemical characteristics. Different neuronal types develop complex and precise patterns of interconnections. Normal function of the mature nervous system depends on normal development of these features. This course will examine our current knowledge of how these features develop. General cellular and molecular mechanisms along with the experimental data demonstrating the mechanisms will be emphasized rather than a detailed account of specific developmental events. This is a hands-on course that requires students to seek out information as well as to learn the assigned material. The course format allows flexibility in the topics students choose to study in detail.

  • NSC 8217

    Systems and Computational Neuroscience

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Spring

    This is an advanced seminar course for graduate students. Current topics in systems and computational neuroscience will be addressed.

  • NSC 8221

    Neurobiology of Pain and Analgesia

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors: 
    Christopher N. Honda, PhD
    George L. Wilcox, PhD

    This is a graduate level team-taught course addressing current concepts in the neurobiology and pharmacology of nociception, pain and analgesia. Topics will range from molecular to systemic mechanisms contributing to pain and its relief. The course also includes exploration of historical and contemporary issues in pain through student discussions of research literature and term papers.

  • NSC 8320

    Readings in Neurobiology

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Spring

    Instructors:
    Departmental Faculty

    This course includes several sections, each on topics in neurobiology and neurophysiology.

    Nsc 8320 is offered both fall and spring semesters, with varying selections available. The grade basis and the number of credits varies by section.

  • NSC 8321

    Career Skills and Understanding Responsibilities As a Neuroscientist

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Spring

    Instructors:
    Departmental Faculty

    This is a course open to graduate students and staff in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience.

    There are 3 required semesters of class for the graduate students: Fall and Spring of year one and Fall of the second year.

    There is also a workshop on "Giving Oral Presentations" that takes place in late Fall of the third year.

  • NSC/PHM/MVB 8481

    Advanced Neuropharmaceutics

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors:
    Carolyn Fairbanks, PhD

    This course is designed for advanced graduate students in neuroscience, pharmaceutics, and related fields of study. The course addresses delivery of compounds to the central nervous system (CNS) to activate proteins in specific brain regions can provide therapeutic benefit, often with reduced side effects relative to systemic delivery. This course provides a detailed description of the pharmaceutical and pharmacological issues specific to direct drug delivery to the CNS.

  • NSCI 1001
  • NSCI 1100
  • NSCI 3001W
  • NSCI 3100
  • NSCI 3101
  • NSCI 3102W
  • NSCI 1001

    Fundamental Neuroscience

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors: 
    Paul G. Mermelstein, PhD
    Robert L. Meisel, PhD

    This course is designed for freshmen and sophomore students interested in a better understanding about how our brains function. There are no prerequisites for the course other than a strong sense of curiosity. The course begins with several lectures that provide a biological foundation to appreciate the intricacies of our brains. These lectures will be easily accessible to students of all backgrounds. Afterwards, using case studies as a basis for understanding general phenomena, students will learn about a variety of topics, including, how our brains observe the world, imagine, fall in love, feel pain, respond to injury, develop, and respond to drugs or psychotherapy. Brain-machine interface technologies and cutting edge findings will also be explored. By taking this course, students will gain an even greater appreciation for the human brain, the most complex machine in existence.

  • NSCI 1100

    Human Neuroanatomy

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors: 
    Steven C. McLoon, PhD

    The human nervous system is possibly the most complex, highly evolved biological system. The functional unit of the nervous system is the nerve cell or neuron, and the human nervous system has approximately 10,000 unique types of neurons. Most neurons have a wire-like process, the axon. Neurons carry information to other cells via their axons and communicate with those cells via a transfer of chemicals at synapses. The connections among neurons are organized into functional systems. Disease affecting a small number of cells can affect the function of many parts of the nervous system. This course will provide a broad introduction to the nervous system with an emphasis on the human nervous system. The course will introduce the structure and function of neurons, the major anatomical parts of the nervous system and the main functional systems. Functional systems will be approached through an understanding of the anatomical circuitry. The fundamental concepts of neurochemical communication studied in general terms in the first part of the course will be re-examined relative to specific functional systems later in the course. Although the major focus of the course will be on the normal nervous system, common diseases will be introduced for each main topic. Students will gain an understanding of the nature of many common neurological diseases, which will provide further insight into how the normal nervous system functions. The anatomical substrates of learning/memory, emotions and drug actions will be examined. Through the assigned readings, lectures, and laboratory exercises, students are expected to gain an understanding of the neural circuitry and information processing responsible for the diverse range of human behaviors. This course fulfills LE Biological Sciences Lab Core requirement. The course requires a 2-hour weekly lab as well as the three lectures per week.

  • NSCI 3001W

    Neuroscience and Society

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors:
    Janet Dubinsky, PhD

    What is the public’s perception of stem cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injury? Is it more informed by science or mass media? Does deep brain stimulation threaten personal identity? Does ADHD medication treat disease or childhood? As the field of neuroscience increases our depth of knowledge regarding how the brain generates and controls behaviors and ideas, questions are raised that challenge societal definitions of mind and body, free will, personal responsibility, and more. This “neuroethics” course aims to unravel the ethical implications of the intersection of neuroscience and society. These ideas will be examined through readings, personal reflections, class discussions, debates and formal writing. Beyond the content, the class will focus on the development of logical arguments, writing skills, oral presentation skills, and teamwork. Students will be expected to present and argue both their own personal views and those of others. Topics and exercises are designed to help students understand different points of view than their own and to gain an understanding of what it is like to have altered mentation, i.e. a brain disease or disability. Readings and multimedia reports will be drawn from the primary neuroscience literature as well as philosophy, policy, and law literature and popular media.

    NSCI 3001Topics to be covered in this course are at the interface between experimental neuroscience and social issues. A deep understanding of these topics becomes necessary as society struggles with the policy implications of our changing understanding of mental abilities and responsibilities. By structuring the course so that students find appropriate resources and work in groups to discuss, present and reconcile issues, NSCI 3001W will build skill sets needed for life-long learning by engaging students in creating deep understanding of multiple points of view, problem-solving, and communication.

    Requirements satisfied
    This course satisfies the “Civic Life and Ethics” liberal education requirement, the group C (pre-fall 2010 admissions) or group B (admission fall 2010 and after) Neuroscience major requirement, and writing intensive course requirement. For the justification for this classification see the section at the end of this syllabus. A Liberal Education prepares students for future encounters with professional, civic or personal problems by developing skill sets needed for generating creative solutions. By focusing on development of ethical issues posed by emerging neuroscience, NSCI 3001W addresses the liberal education theme of Civic Life and Ethics.

    What this course is NOT
    NSCI 3001This is not a lecture course in neuroscience. During class, students will engage in daily discussions on topics chosen by the instructors and by the students with the aim of exploring the arguments on all sides of the issues. In preparation for these informed discussions, prior to every class, students will read and summarize in writing contemporary articles and media from neuroscience, policy and contemporary literature assigned on the topics. With the emphasis on construction of informed arguments, both oral and written, and teamwork, regular class attendance is extremely important. In order for instructors to read and provide feedback on the written work, assignment deadlines are not flexible. In the past, students who regularly do the reading, participate in the discussions, and turn in the written assignments on time do well. If you do not plan to attend regularly or to do the assigned readings and writings on time, this is not a course for you.

    Course prerequisites
    Students must have completed their Biological Science Liberal Education requirement by the beginning of the term. All students must be prepared to read and evaluate primary literature.NSCI 3001

    For a full description of course learning and developmental outcomes, other course policies, schedules and grading structure in past years, please see the example. Details will vary slightly from year to year.

    Materials
    Syllabus and Grading

  • NSCI 3100

    Mind and Brain

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors:
    David A. Redish, PhD

    This course is intended as a survey of the current thinking in the relationship between mind and brain. Over the last several decades, a new view of cognition and neural processing has been developed based on the concepts of al¬gorithm, representation, computation, and information processing. Within this theoretical frame¬work, psychological constructs are computational processes occur¬ring across physical neural systems. We will take a neuroscience and psychological perspective in which the physical neuroscience instantiates but does not diminish the psychological constructs. Although our conceptual framework will be computational, this course will not require or expect any mathematical or computer background.

    Goal
    At the completion of this class, you will understand the implications of the physical nature of the brain – how mentation is explicable from physical processes, and how decision-making arises from those same physical processes. Importantly, you will also understand the limitations of current knowledge and the methodologies being used to push those limitations. This class is not intended as a final step in this understanding, but as a first step into these issues. At the conclusion of the class, you should have sufficient understanding to continue more in-depth reading and study in these issues.

    Format
    The format of each class will be 10 minutes of review of the homework from the previous week, a one hour (interactive) lecture followed by a 20-minute break out session in which the students will address a discussion question in groups of 4-5, and a 5-minute reintegration whole-class discussion. The lectures will be Socratic, and students should expect to be ready to answer questions during the lecture.

  • NSCI 3101

    Introduction to Neuroscience I

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors:
    Lorene M. Lanier, PhD

    This course serves as an introduction to the basic principles of cellular and molecular neurobiology and nervous systems. The main topics include: Organization of simple networks, neural systems and behavior; how the brain develops and the physiology and communication of neurons and glia; the molecular and genetic basis of cell organization; ion channel structure and function; the molecular basis of synaptic receptors; transduction mechanisms and second messengers; intracellular regulation of calcium; neurotransmitter systems, including excitation and inhibition, neuromodulation, system regulation and the cellular basis of learning, memory and cognition. The course is intended for students majoring in neuroscience but is open to all students with the required prerequisites.

  • NSCI 3102W

    Intro to Neurobiology II: Perception and Behavior

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    This is the second of the introductory neuroscience courses. This course introduces concepts in Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience with emphasis on the organization of neural systems/subsystems underlying sensory/motor aspects of behavior. Topics include sensorimotor integration, vestibular system, visual and auditory systems. Students must learn to read scientific papers and to understand the main ideas well enough to synthesize them and communicate them both orally and in writing. The course is writing intensive and is required for students majoring in neuroscience but is open to all students with the required prerequisites. The course consists of two hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week A 10-15 page term paper, and a 4-6 page draft of this term paper are required.

    Visit course website

  • NSCI 4100
  • NSCI 4105
  • NSCI 4167
  • NSCI 4793W
  • NSCI 4993
  • NSCI 4994
  • NSCI 6110
  • NSCI 4100

    Development Of The Nervous System

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall

    Instructors:
    Steven C. McLoon, PhD

    This course will extend students’ understanding of fundamental concepts of biology and neuroscience through study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie development of the nervous system. Neurodevelopment provides a context in which to study processes active in many biological functions and diseases. Students will learn about each of the major cellular processes involved in development of the nervous system such as cell division and cell migration, and will learn about the function of molecules and signaling pathways active in each process. Human developmental pathologies will be studied as a mean to better understand normal developmental processes. Some lectures will focus on current research, and students will be expected to read some scientific literature.

  • NSCI 4105

    Neurobiology Laboratory I

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Summer

    Instructors:
    Marija Cvetanovic, PhD
    Janet Dubinsky, PhD
    Dezhi Liao, PhD
    George L. Wilcox, PhD

    NSci 4105 is an integral part of the core curriculum in neuroscience. The course brings concepts from lecture courses to life through an intensive, experimental investigation of functional neuroanatomy. Groups of 3 students make precise injections of fluorescent tracer dyes into rat brain. The dyes are transported along pathways within the brain and the groups spend the the semester discovering and analyzing the pathways involved. Students learn to keep an experimental laboratory notebook, to organize and coordinate a group experiment, to collect and organize scientific data, and to construct a sound scientific presentation. Much guidance is provided but there are few rigid protocols. The class depends heavily on individual initiative and teamwork. Students are judged, in part, on the quality of presentations given before an audience. To do well, students must place experimental results in an appropriate functional context and answer questions about the data and its functional significance. Successful students typically spend significant time, outside of normal class hours, both collecting data and preparing presentations. (Previous students have suggested that scheduling a course immediately after this one may not be a good idea.) Students typically leave this course with a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. They also leave with a valuable set of technical and career skills. Many students find that the opportunities to interact closely with course faculty are invaluable and lasting bonds are often formed between class members.

  • NSCI 4167

    Neuroscience in the Community

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors: 
    Janet Dubinsky, PhD

    Students are paired with a middle school science teacher, and over the course of the semester will observe and assist in the implementation of already-developed neuroscience activities. Students will choose a basic concept in an area of neuroscience in which they will develop an expertise and make an oral presentation. Students will then design and implement a new classroom activity to teach concepts in that area of neuroscience to middle school learners. By partnering with a middle school teacher and assisting in his/her classroom, the student will participate in a service learning experience. Credit hours will be proportional to the number of hours spent in the middle school classroom, 1 credit for every 50 hr. Weekly meetings with the instructor, journaling, and readings are required for all credit levels.

  • NSCI 4793W

    Directed Studies - Writing Intensive

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Spring, Summer

    Instructors:
    Departmental Faculty

    Individual study of selected topics with emphasis on readings and use of scientific literature. This course is writing intensive. Students will write a review article on a topic in their discipline of interest. They will learn to survey current literature in a specific area of research, organize the data available relevant to the research topic, and effectively communicate this information in their paper. Also, students will draw conclusions from their investigation of the research topic and suggest directions for future research. Students are required to write a 10-15 page paper in the format of a scientific review article. An extensive survey of the literature will be required. This course is graded pass/fail, and the final grade is based on successful completion of the review article.

  • NSCI 4993

    Directed Studies

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Spring, Summer

    Instructors:
    Departmental Faculty

    Individual study of selected topics with emphasis on selected readings and use of scientific literature. The course objective is to permit students who desire to learn about a specialized topic not already presented in a regularly scheduled lecture course to explore that area through individualized independent reading, analysis, and writing of a term paper. Topics and the literature vary according to the needs of the student. This course is graded pass/fail, and the final grade is based on successful completion of a written review article.

  • NSCI 4994

    Directed Research

    Semesters Offered:
    Fall, Spring, Summer

    Instructors:
    Departmental Faculty

    Directed Research is an individualized research experience under the direction of a faculty mentor. The course objective is to provide opportunity for undergraduates (primarily undergraduate majors in neuroscience) to experience laboratory research. This is very important preparation for those who intend to apply for graduate study. Topics vary according to the subject matter of the research project chosen by the student, with assistance from the faculty mentor. Readings will include several papers from the primary research literature as well as some review articles and several papers about appropriate research methods. In addition, the student will spend time doing experiments, collecting data, organizing results, as well as reading pertinent literature and writing a summary report.

  • NSCI 6110

    Neuroscience for Dental Students

    Semesters Offered:
    Spring

    Instructors:
    Donald A. Simone, PhD
    William C. Engeland, PhD

    The course entails study of the structure and function of the human nervous system. Material is tailored to the interests of students in dentistry, but is appropriate for other graduate students who need a comprehensive introduction to neuroscience. The course includes lectures and reading assignments.