Biology 358: Neurobiology  

Spring 2010

Course Outline
Instructor: H. Itagaki  

Office: 107 Higley

Email: itagaki  

Office Phone: X5394

Tomsich 207- Period 3, MWF 10:10-11:00am  

Home Phone: 614-433-0165


Nicholls, J.G.; A.R. Martin; B.G. Wallace; and P.A. Fuchs. 2001. From Neuron to Brain, 4th Edition,Sinauer, Sunderland, MA. 580pp. (N)

Sacks, O. 1998. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Touchstone Books, New York, 243pp. (S)

Plus assorted readings on electronic reserve.

Class Website: I will be updating the readings and course contents weekly on the website, so please log in often.

Dates   Subject   Assigned Readings
  Introduction; Membranes and Ion Channels: Biophysics of Neuron Function  
1/14-1/18   Introduction, Ion Channels; Resting Potential   N - ch. 1-5,7,8; S
1/21-1/25   The Action Potential, Modelling the Hodgkin-Huxley Equations (Computer lab on 1/25)   N - ch. 6
1/28-2/1   Synaptic Transmission   N - ch. 9, 10, 14
2/4-2/8   Synaptic Modulation; Modelling the Synapse (Grant topic due 2/6; Computer lab on 2/8)   N - ch. 11-13
Sensory Systems
2/11-2/15   Vision in Vertebrates (First take-home exam handed out 2/11)   N - ch. 19-21; ERES; S
2/18-2/22   Hearing, Vestibular System, Olfaction (First take-home exam due 2/18)   N - ch. 17, 18; ERES
2/25-2/29   Taste, Magnetoreception, Mechanoreception (Grant outline and list of references due 2/27)   N - ch. 17, 18; ERES
3/1-3/16   Spring Break  
Effector Systems
3/17-3/21   Muscles and Reflex/Voluntary Action; Special Topic #1   N - ch. 15, 16, 22; ERES
3/24-3/28   Motor Pattern Generation, Neuroendocrine Systems (Second take-home exam handed out 3/28)   N - ch. 15, 16, 22; ERES
Learning and Memory Proceesses
3/31-4/4   Learning in Apysia, Drosophila; LTP (Second take-home exam due 4/4)   ERES
4/7-4/11   Neural Networks; Special Topic #2 (First draft of grant due 4/9)   ERES
4/14-4/18   Cell Migration; Neurogenesis; Synapse Formation (Grant review panels)   N - ch. 23-25; ERES
4/21-4/25   Growth Factors; Cell Death and Neurogenetics   N - ch. 23-25; ERES
Cognition, Emotion, and Language
4/28-5/2   Cognition, Emotion and Language; Special Topic #3 (Final draft of grant due 5/2; Third take-home exam handed out 5/2)   ERES; S
5/9   Third take-home exam due at 4:30pm  

About the Course: This course is designed to introduce you to the wide variety of questions that are being asked by researchers in this exciting field, and the approaches that they are taking to answer these questions. We will cover topics such as: membrane biophysics and ion channels; the behavior of individual neurons; different sensory systems and their special organizations; various effector systems; the biochemical and physiological bases of learning and memory; and the development of this complex system. We will also spend some time dealing with topics of special interest to the class, delving into the original literature on these topics. Aside from the main texts, the readings will be made up of excerpts from other books, original papers and reviews from the scientific literature.

Prerequisites: Biology 113 and 114. Experience in math and/or physics is recommended.

Grading: Your grade will be depend on your performance in the following:

3 Take-home exams (15% each) 45%
Grant proposal 30%
Grant proposal reviews 7.5%
Paper discussions and critiques 7.5%
Attendance / Class Participation 10%

There will be no final exam. A 1/3 grade point penalty will assessed for each day an assignment is late.

The Exams: The three take-home exams will be composed of essay questions. The exams will be handed out 2/11, 3/28, and 5/2, and are due in 1week.

The Grant Proposal: The grant proposal is to be on any topic in neurobiology that is of interest to you. The topic of the proposal has to be cleared with the instructor. The proposal will be composed of a critical summary of a field in neurobiology followed by a proposal of a series of experiments that would answer questions based on the materials in the summary. The entire text should be about 20 pages in length, with references and figures appended to the end. It must be written in the language of a biological scientific paper with proper citations and references in the standard format used in Biology 109. Copies of old grant proposals for reference will be placed on reserve in the Bio Reading Room. (More details here.)

Peer reviews of proposals will be conducted double blind, and will be done on a draft of the proposal during the week of 4/14. A final draft incorporating the referees' comments will be submitted after the review process.
Grant Proposal Schedule: Grant proposal topic due - Wednesday, 2/6

Grant proposal outline and references due - Wednesday, 2/27

Draft of grant proposal due - Wednesday, 4/9

Final draft of grant proposal due - Friday, 5/2

Primary Literature Readings: To cover a greater breadth and more recent material of interest to the students in the class than can be covered in the text, we will be have readings from the primary literature. These will be discussed in class, via break-out groups and written commentaries.

Neurobiology Video Series: As there is a wealth of videos from PBS and other sources, if there is interest, we have the option of having a video series to be held biweekly during common hour in Tomsich 207 right after class. The series will include a number of documentaries that feature Oliver Sacks

Lateness Penalty: In accordance with the departmental standards, I will assess a penalty of 1/3 grade point per day for late assignments. So, if an "A" paper/assignment is 1 day late, it will become an "A-." Two days late, it will become a "B+."

Academic Honesty: Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Please make sure that you have read carefully the Academic Honesty Guidelines in the 2007-2008 Course of Study, pp. 26-29. If you have any questions, please see the instructor!

Class Expectations: This is a 300-level class, and will be taught as such. My expectations are that you will have done the readings in time for each class (excepting the first week of classes). It will be a challenging class, but the people who have taken this class in the past have found it rewarding and very useful after they leave Kenyon. As in much of life, the amount you will get out of the class will depend on how much you put into it.

Disabilities: If you have a hidden or visible disability that may require classroom or test accommodations please see me as soon as possible during a scheduled office hour. If you have not already done so, you must register with the Coordinator of Disability Services (Erin Salva,, x5145), who is the individual responsible for coordinating accommodations and services for students with disabilities. All information and documentation of disability is strictly confidential. No accommodations will be granted in this course without notification from the Office of Disability Services.