Neural Systems & Behavior

Course Information

Course Date: June 3 – July 29, 2018

Deadline: February 1, 2018 | Apply here

Course Website

2018 Lecture Schedule

Directors: André Fenton, New York University; Hans A. Hofmann, University of Texas; and Jade Zee, Northeastern University

Course Description

This is an intensive eight-week laboratory and lecture course focusing on the neural basis of behavior. The course is intended for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and independent investigators. Limited to 20 participants.

This course provides broad training in modern approaches to the study of neural mechanisms underlying behavior, perception, and cognition. Through a combination of lectures, exercises, and projects, students investigate neural systems at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels using state-of-the-art techniques. The eight weeks are divided into two-week cycles, providing participants with an in-depth familiarity with several different experimental model systems. In the first cycle, students study a simple invertebrate model system to develop general experimental skills in electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, and quantitative analysis of physiological and behavioral data. In subsequent cycles, students work on a series of different preparations, providing them with a breadth of knowledge in the field. The list of experimental model systems is updated year-to-year, but always includes a diverse array of vertebrate and invertebrate preparations, chosen to illustrate key concepts and novel techniques in the field. The goal of the course is to expose students to diverse approaches to the investigation of the neural basis of behavior.

The students in this course learn by doing real science. For instance three students and two faculty in the 2012 version of NS&B published a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience based upon their course experiences. Likewise, four students and two faculty from the 2015 NS&B course published their findings about sexually dimorphic cortical maps in the rodent brain.

Each experimental preparation is taught by a team of leading experts, and topics include: the cellular basis of pattern generation, the development and neuromodulatory control of cell and circuit specificity, learning and plasticity, sensory processing and feature detection, sensory-motor integration, spatial memory, and social communication. The laboratory provides access to many complementary methods including intracellular recording; single-cell dye-injection; patch-clamp; whole-cell voltage and current clamp; analysis of synaptic transmission and plasticity; neural genetics; quantitative behavioral methods; and computational analysis. Although students will use and be exposed to many different techniques, this is not a course for learning particular techniques. Students spend a portion of each cycle designing, performing, and analyzing the results of their own project. These projects offer an exceptional opportunity to combine newly learned skills in a creative manner.

In addition to the daily course lecture, the course sponsors a weekly seminar, given by invited lecturers and distinguished Visiting Scholars.

2017 Course Faculty & Lecturers

Adesnik, Hillel, U.C. Berkeley
Albrecht, Dirk, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Alkema, Mark, UMass Medical
Angstadt, James, Siena College
Bautista, Diana, U.C. Berkeley
Blitz, Dawn, Miami University
Brecht, Michael, Humboldt University Berlin
Bucher, Dirk, NJIT/Rutgers University Newark
Chacron, Maurice, McGill University
Churchland, Anne, CSHL
Clemens, Ann, Humboldt University Berlin
Colon Ramos, Daniel, Yale University
Daur, Nelly, NJIT/Rutgers University Newark
Fenk, Lisa, Rockefeller University
Fischer, Eva, Harvard University
Fortune, Eric, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Gordon, Josh, NIMH
Hawk, Josh, Yale University
Jarvis, Erich, Rockefeller University
Kelley, Darcy, Columbia University
Kristan, Bill, U.C. San Diego
Langston, Rosamund, University of Dundee
Maimon, Gaby, Rockefeller University
Markham, Michael, University of Oklahoma
Metzen, Michael, McGill University
Moss, Cynthia, Johns Hopkins University
Murthy, Mala, Princeton University
Nadim, Farzan, NJIT/Rutgers University Newark
Norris, Brian, Cal State San Marco
Oliveira, Rui, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência
Puhl, Josh, Univ of Minnesota
Schulz, David, University of Missouri
Steele, Rob, U.C. Irvine
Szczupak, Lidia, University of Buenos Aires
Todd, Krista, Westminister College
Tuthill, John, University of Washington
van der Meer, Matthijs, Dartmouth University
Weisblat, David, U.C. Berkeley
Wellmann, Carmen, University of Cologne
Wood, Emma, University of Edinburgh
Wright, Michael, California State University, Sacramento
Yuste, Rafael, Columbia University

Course Support

This course is supported with funds and equipment provided by:

National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
The Grass Foundation
International Brain Research Organization
Genentech, Inc.
Sutter Instrument