A314
Course Coordinator: 
Jeff Wickens
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Description: 

The aim of this course is to engage students in thinking about and discussing fundamental issues in research on neural mechanisms of learning and memory. Topics include the neural mechanisms of learning, memory, emotion, and addictive behavior. Students will be expected to read original reports including classical papers as well as recent advances. The course includes an experimental requirement in which students must design and conduct an experiment related to learning and memory mechanisms of the brain.

 

Aim: 
The aim of this course is to engage students in thinking about and discussing fundamental issues in research on neural mechanisms of learning and memory.
Course Content: 
  1. Historical perspectives on learning and memory. Classification of learning and memory functions. Theories of memory and learning.  

  1. Experimental models of memory. Developmental plasticity. Anatomical plasticity. Conditioned reflexes. Imprinting. Extinction. Forgetting. 

  2. Synaptic plasticity: Homosynaptic and heterosynaptic plasticity, long-term potentiation, long-term depression. Spike-timing dependent plasticity. 

  1. Cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity. Intracellular messages, retrograde messages, receptor phosphorylation, protein synthesis, gene expression, synaptic tagging. Amino acid receptors. AMPA, NMDA, mGluR, nitric oxide. 

  2. Invertebrate modelsAplysia, honey bees, drosophila. Sensitization of reflexes. 

  3. Neural circuits for reinforcement learning. Substrates of reward and punishment.  

  1. Neuromodulation and memoryDopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, other neuromodulators. Volume transmission. 

  2. Cellular mechanisms of reinforcement. Neurochemical basis. Habits, action-outcome learning, behavioral flexibility. 

  1. Memory and aging. Amnesia. Memory enhancers.  

  2. Neurochemistry of emotion. Drugs and mood. Addictive behavior. 

Course Type: 
Elective
Credits: 
2
Assessment: 
Students will be required to: (i) prepare and present a lecture on the neural basis of a higher integrative function (40%); (ii) design and conduct an experiment on learning and memory (40%); (iii) participate in class discussions (20%).
Text Book: 
Selected original papers. Selected chapters from the online course, https://nba.uth.tmc.edu/neuroscience/s1/iend.html
Prior Knowledge: 

Students should have previously taken at least two basic courses in neuroscience: B26 Introduction to Neuroscience, and at least one other basic neuroscience course; or have completed the equivalent by documented self-directed study or skill-pill participation.