Teaching

Undergraduate

Biol 3421: Introduction to Neuroethology

The neural mechanisms of animal behavior from an evolutionary and ecological perspective. Topics include: contributions of model systems to understanding fundamental properties of nervous system structure and function; electrical signals of sensory cells, neurons, and muscle; neural processing of sensory input; neural control of behavioral output; anatomy and physiology of sensory and motor systems; learning and memory; evolution of neural circuits.

 

Biol 404: Neurophysiology Laboratory

Neurophysiology is the study of living neurons, their interactions and how they dictate behavior. Students learn about the instrumentation and concepts of the field using computer and electronic simulations in the first 2 weeks. In the remaining 13 weeks, students record the electric organ discharge of weakly electric fish, muscle and motor neuron potentials in the crayfish tail, optic nerve responses in the horseshoe crab eye, hair cell, auditory nerve and muscle potentials in the rat cochlea, compound action potentials in the sciatic nerve of the frog, and psychophysics and behavior from themselves.

 

Graduate

Biol 5651: Neural Systems

Lectures and discussions of the sensory, motor and integrative systems of the brain and spinal cord, together with a weekly lab. The lectures present aspects of most neural systems, and are given by faculty members who have specific expertise on each topic. The discussions include faculty led group discussions and papers presented and discussed by students. The labs include human brain dissections, examination of histological slides, physiological recordings, behavioral methods, computational modeling, and functional neural imaging.

 

Biol 5665: The Science of Behavior

The primary function of nervous systems is to control behavior. Understanding the links between brain and behavior requires an understanding of cognition—the computations performed by the brain, as well as the algorithms underlying those computations and the physical substrates that implement those algorithms. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the tools, concepts, and techniques for the experimental study of cognition and behavior in humans and nonhuman animals. We will focus on cognitive capacities that are well-developed in humans and can be compared with those of other species, to develop an understanding of how evolution shapes cognition and behavior. Students who complete this course will be able to ask questions and form hypotheses about the computations and algorithms underlying cognition and behavior, and to design experiments that test these hypotheses.