Neural Systems & Behavior

Course Information

Course Date: June 1 – July 28, 2019 Apply Here

Deadline: February 1, 2019

Course Website

2018 Lecture Schedule

Directors: Robert Froemke, NYU School of Medicine; Stephanie White, UCLA; and Jade Zee, Northeastern University

Financial Information: Tuition: $6,650.00; Room & Board: $4,275.00. The admissions process at the Marine Biological Laboratory is need-blind, meaning that we evaluate students on their merits alone, without weighing their financial situations. Financial assistance will be considered for those admitted students who are in need. Upon acceptance, students will be asked to complete a financial aid request form if they need assistance.

In 2018, 100% of those students in the Neural Systems & Behavior course who requested financial aid received some support. The amount of financial aid available from the MBL varies by course based on funding from grants and scholarships, but typically covers 80-100% of student need.

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. Research conducted by students and faculty during the course are sometimes sufficiently novel to merit publication in peer-reviewed journals. Examples from recent summers include:

Multisensory and Motor Representations in Rat Oral Somatosensory Cortex (2018)
Sexually Monomorphic Maps and Dimorphic Responses in Rat Genital Cortex (2016)
Structure, Function, and Cortical Representation of the Rat Submandibular Whisker Trident (2013)

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.

2018 Course Faculty & Lecturers

Albrecht, Dirk, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Alkema, Mark, UMass Medical
Angstadt, James, Siena College
Baltzley, Michael, Western Oregon University
Beenhakker, Mark, University of Virginia
Blitz, Dawn, Miami University
Brecht, Michael, Humboldt Univ Berlin
Calabrese, Ron, Emory University
Carlson, Bruce, Washington University
Chacron, Maurice, McGill University
Clemens, Ann, Humboldt Univ Berlin
Colon Ramos, Daniel, Yale University
Daur, Nelly, NJIT/Rutgers University Newark
Deister, Chris, Brown University
Dulac, Catherine, Harvard University
Dzirasa, Kafui, Duke University
Fenk, Lisa, Rockefeller University
Fenton, Andre, New York University
Fisher, Yvette, Harvard Medical School
Fortune, Eric, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Froemke, Robert, NYU
Gothard, Katalin, University of Arizona
Han, Shuting, Columbia University
Hawk, Josh, Yale University
Hofmann, Hans, The University of Texas at Austin
Hofmann, Volker, McGill University
Kao, Mimi, Tufts University
Maimon, Gaby, Rockefeller University
Markham, Michael, University of Oklahoma
Maruska, Karen, Lousiana State University
Metzen, Michael, McGill University
Norris, Brian, Cal State San Marco
Steele, Rob, UC Irvine
Todd, Krista, Westminister College
Tritsch, Nicolas, NYU Medical Center
Tuthill, John, University of Washington
van der Meer, Matthijs, Dartmouth University
Wagenaar, Daniel, Caltech
Weisblat, David, U.C. Berkeley
Wellmann, Carmen, University of Cologne
Wright, Michael, California State University, Sacramento
Yuste, Rafael, Columbia University
Zhen, Mei, University of Toronto

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