NSCI 327, Cellular, Neurophysiological and Pharmacological Neuroscience, SPRING 2008
Prerequistes: NSCI 210, PSYC 375.
INSTRUCTOR: M Cloud, K Blackwell,
Contact Information: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 993-4381
Office Hours: Thurs, 4:15 - 5:15 pm, or by appointment
Office Location: Krasnow Institute, Room 105, and adjacent lounge.
Course Objectives: This is a core neuroscience course that presents basic concepts of cellular and
molecular level neuroscience. It is an in depth survey of neuronal functions, including cellular
anatomy and membrane functions, electrical properties of neurons, intercellular and intracellular
signaling, brain metabolism, the molecular biology of sensory processing, and cellular basis of
plasticity. By the end of the course the students will have a comprehensive understanding of the
molecular functioning of neurons.
Text: Neuroscience 4/e, Purves et al
Jan 19: Course overview, organization of the nervous system, amino acids and proteins Lecture
Jan 21: Neuron anatomy and structure, cytoskeleton Lecture
Jan 26 Chapter 2: 25-36; Resting potential, Nernst Equation; Measurement Techniques Lecture
Jan 28 Chapter 4: 74-83; Membrane transporters Lecture
Feb 2 Chapter 2: 36-37; Chapter 3: 41-49: Action Potential and Voltage Clamp Lecture
Feb 4 Chapter 4: 61-74; Ion Channel Structure and Function Lecture
Feb 9 Snow Day!
Feb 11 Snow Day!
Feb 16 Tutorials: Action Potential Firing Patterns; Calcium Channels Lecture
Feb 18 Chapter 3: 49-59; Passive and Active Propagation of Potential Lecture
Feb 23 Potassium Channels Lecture
Feb 25 Review, Commercials Commercial Results
Week 7 Homework due Mar 18
Mar 4 Chapter 5: 85-106; Synaptic transmission, pre-synaptic release Lecture
Week 8 Spring Break
Week 9 Homework due Mar 25
Mar 16 Chapter 5: 106-117; Synaptic transmission, Post-synaptic receptors and potentials Lecture
Mar 18 Chapter 6: 119-151; Synaptic transmission, neurotransmitters and synthesis Lecture
Week 10 Homework due April 1
Mar 23 Chapter 6: 119-151; Synaptic transmission, neurotransmitters and synthesis
Mar 25 Chapter 7: 153-163; Molecular signaling, indirect synaptic transmission Lecture
Mar 30 Chapter 7: 164-176; Molecular signaling, indirect synaptic transmission Lecture
Week 12 Homework due April 15
Apr 8 Chapter 8: 177-203; Synaptic plasticity, Learning and Memory Lecture
Week 13 Homework due April 22
Apr 13 Chapter 8: 177-203; Synaptic plasticity, Learning and Memory Lecture
Apr 15 Chapter 9: 207-217; Mechanotransduction (somatosensory) Lecture
Week 14 Homework due April 29
Apr 20 Chapter 11: 253-286; Phototransduction (vision) Lecture
Apr 22 Chapter 11: 253-286; Phototransduction (vision) Lecture
Week 15 Homework due May 6
Apr 27 Chapter 13: 313-332; Mechanotransduction (Hearing) Lecture
Apr 29 Chapter 15: 353-378, 384-389; Chemotransduction (taste and smell) Lecture
May 4 Chapter 15: 353-378, 384-389; Chemotransduction (taste and smell)
May 6 Review Lecture
Comprehensive Final Exam: Mon May 10 2:15 - 4:15
Last day to add: February 2
Last day to drop: February 19
Mid-term Exams, 25% each
Final Exam 30%
Exams will be short answer, or fill in the blank.
Commercials are brief presentations (e.g. 5 minutes) by teams of one to four students. The
commercial should “sell” the neuron on a particular ion channel or transporter (commercial 1),
synaptic receptor or receptor channel (commercial 2), or sensory cell (commercial 3). Content
counts for 33%, verbal creativity counts for 33% and visual creativity counts for 33%. Larger
teams are expected to have more entertaining commercials, but content is graded the same for all
teams. Students form their own teams and each student in the team receives the same grade. If
students are not happy with all members of their team, the team composition can change for the
subsequent commercial. Teams of two to three students are recommended, but students who are
unable to join a team, for example due to time or distance constraints, may create their own
commercials. In this case, content will count for 50% and creativity for 50%.
Homework will consist of take home questions.
Policy regarding missed assignments: Homework is due by the end of class Thursday. If an absence from class is anticipated, homework may be emailed, or sent in on-time with another student. Make-up exams are not allowed, unless the student has written medical documentation for absence from an exam.
Grading policy: A score of 90 or above generally results in a grade of A- or above, 80 or above
corresponds to a B- or above, and 70 or above results in C- or above. The numerical score is only a guideline, and is not absolute. The final grades may be determined on a curve if this is to the students favor and justified in the opinion of the instructor.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES SHOULD PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION FROM THE
DISABILITIES OFFICE AND APPROPRIATE ARRANGEMENTS WILL BE MADE.
All exams and reports must follow the guidelines of the GMU Honor Code as described in the GMU catalog. Students may use books, notes, and other sources in preparing for exams and reports. Other students may be consulted. However, when taking exams, no books, notes, or student interaction will be allowed. Students may work together on homework, but each student must contribute and copying is not allowed.