Neural Systems & Behavior


Course Date: June 4 – July 31, 2016

Deadline: February 1, 2016 | Apply here

Course Website

Lecture Schedule

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

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.

This course is supported with funds provided by:
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
The Grass Foundation
International Brain Research Organization
Genentech, Inc.

2016 Course Lecturers

Michael Long, New York University
Sarah London, The University of Chicago
Villu Maricq, University of Washington
Adrienne Fairhall, University of Washington
Carol Barnes, University of Arizona
Todd Sacktor, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Gilles Laurent, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research