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A build up misfolded proteins causes an exoskeleton (in blue) to form around blood vessels (in gold) in the brain

Core Courses

Structure of the nervous system, membrane properties, and electrical properties of neuronal cells. Neurotransmitter systems, synapse structure and function. Overview of neural development, sensory and motor systems, memory, emotion, decision making, and behavior. Theories to study neurological structures and functions. Assessment of scientific literature.

Fundamentals of molecular signaling in the nervous system. Underlying neuronal signaling that includes the channels, transporters and pumps. Methods to study synaptic plasticity, structure and function of nervous system cells. Current understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of nervous system disorders. Assessment of scientific literature.

Anatomy and function of the human central and peripheral nervous system, including gross and microscopic structure of major neural circuits that govern motor and sensory systems, autonomic function, memory, emotion, motivation and attention. Diseases and disorders associated with brain region malfunction.

Discussion of emergent topics, theory and techniques in contemporary neuroscience research. Current research literature review of select topic. Scientific communication, ethics, and research integrity.

This course is intended to provide students with the basic statistical tools including basic probability, estimation, and test of hypothesis, point and interval estimation and inferences; categorical data analysis; simple linear regression; and one-way analysis of variance. 

In the first semester, students will undertake two laboratory rotations in addition to their coursework. Laboratory rotations are intended to expose students to multiple research experiences. Hypothesis testing, experimental design, research methods, accurate record keeping, data analysis, scientific literature evaluation, problem solving and scientific communication skills. May be repeated for a maximum of four credits. The goal of these laboratory rotations is to provide students with the opportunity to experience and contribute to different research topics and environments in a supervised setting. The laboratory rotations serve two purposes: 1) to aid students in their selection of a research advisor, and 2) provide students with the opportunity to gain conceptual and technical skills in the laboratory. Students will learn about and demonstrate the basics of experimental design and hypothesis testing in a laboratory setting. Students are expected to gain competence in one or more technical research approaches and the appropriate data analysis and relevant literature searches for that approach. Students will also be trained in regulatory policies regarding human research subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices. 

Restricted Electives

Common brain and Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders ranging from trauma to autism. Genetic, molecules and cellular changes in disease. Therapeutic implications and development of novel drugs. Challenges in drug discovery and implementation of personalized medicine. Ethical issues regarding genetic findings.

Molecular and cellular processes underlying neural circuit formation, including neural induction, cell differentiation, cell fate determination, axon guidance, neuronal migration, synapse formation, sex differentiation, the role of neurotrophic factors, and cell death in vertebrate and invertebrate animal models. Gene regulation during critical periods of neural development that define neurogenesis and gliogenesis. Clinical problems in developmental neuroscience.

Concepts and methods in cognitive neuroscience. Neural bases of various mental functions including sensation, memory, attention, motivation and reward, emotion, decision making, sleep, language and social cognition. Treatment of neurological and mental disorders.

Concepts of classical, modern genetics and epigenetics as they relate to neuroscience. Practical applications including genome-wide association (GWAS), next-generation sequencing, epigenetics, genome editing and screening methods. Use of model organisms in neurogenetic disorders research. Relationship of genetics and its influences on theoretical and practical issues in neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders. Personalized medicine in neurodevelopmental and neurogenetic disorders.

Concepts of language as distinctive human behavior and central to social life. Neural underpinnings of humans’ ability to speak and understand language. Neurologic processing of language comprehension and production in healthy and language-impaired individuals. Auditory and visual word recognition, reading, understanding speech, representation of word meaning, language production, and bilingualism. Neuroethology of communication and neurological disorders of communication: dyslexia, stuttering, and aphasia. Theoretical issues in language processing and converging evidence from different techniques and animal models addressing these issues.

Immune system and assorted roles in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Details of cell type, functions and signaling of the peripheral and central immune system, and sympathetic nervous system. Cross-talk between the brain and immune system across the blood brain barrier and circumventricular organs. Treatment options for autoimmune diseases and psychopathy.

Concepts in nutritional aspects of neuroscience. Energy metabolism n central nervous system and brain regulating ingestive behavior. Communication with peripheral organs, regulation of whole-body energy homeostasis, brain physiology and pathology on molecular and cellular level. Role of appetite neurocircuitry in formulation of practical solutions to societal problems such as nutrition, eating disorders, and obesity.

Current approaches and pitfalls for developing therapeutics for treating disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). Theoretical issues and practical applications targeting identification, high-throughput screening, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, preclinical testing, clinical trials, and the FDA approval process. Ethical implications for drug development and testing.

Concepts of cell biology and physiology of glial cells during synaptogenesis, myelination, blood-brain barrier formation and maintenance. Interactions of glia with neurons, the vasculature and immune system. The role of glia in the clearance of waste products and in the development and progression of neurological diseases.

The institution’s catalog does not provide a description for this course.