BIOLOGY 490 (1087147) SYLLABUS


  SPRING 2002 

  Tues & Thurs 
  10:20-11:35 am
   Foster Hall 201

  Instructor: Dr. Elba E. Serrano
  Associate Professor of Biology
  Ph.D., Stanford University

  Office & Office Hours:

 Foster Hall 337D
 Wed 11:30 am -1 pm 
 (&  by  appointment)
 Contact the Instructor:
 Course Assistant:
Michael Bullock
Foster Hall 336






Biology 490, Neurobiology, covers the fundamental principles that form the basis of our contemporary knowledge regarding the structure and function of the nervous system.  Neurobiology is an exciting discipline that aims to understand how the nervous system develops and functions normally, as well as the causes of neurological disorders. 

Neurobiologists are interested in the biological basis of human thought, behavior, and  emotion. The field is comprised of investigators using different approaches such as molecular biology, computer science, bioinformatics, engineering, anatomy, and psychology in attempts to understand how the brain works.  Neurobiology is a central area of modern biomedical research in part because one of five persons will experience a disorder of the nervous system at some point in their life. The course is designed to give the student a solid foundation in this complex and fascinating field. 

In the Spring of 2002, we will cover a broad spectrum of topics including molecular and developmental neurobiology, sensory systems, human neuroanatomy, mental health, and the neural basis of memory, language, and learning.  We will review the present status of research on diseases and disorders of the nervous system such as Alzheimers, schizophrenia, hearing loss, brain tumors, attention deficit disorder (ADD), epilepsy, and depression.  Recent advances in the Human Genome Project have raised important and controversial questions regarding the role of genes and the environment in behavior and disease that also will be explored in the course.

This course is particularly relevant for students seeking careers in biomedical fields such as medicine, neuroscience, pharmacology, and cancer research.  It also will be of interest to students interested in the biological basis of consciousness and with curiosity about how the mind works.

* Molecular Biology and Cell Organismal graduate students receive Tier II credit for the course.


Required: Completion of Organic Chemistry (Chem 211 or 313) and Genetics (Bio 305) prior to enrolling in the class. 
Recommended:  Biochemistry (395 or 341) and Physics (211 or 215).


Textbooks can be obtained at the bookstore or online from vendors such as Amazon and ecampus.   Students seeking graduate medical and research careers in Neuroscience  are encouraged to purchase Principles of Neural Science as well.
Required Text
Recommended Text
Recommended Text Recommended Text
Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain (2000)
Bear, Connors, and Paradiso
Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins 
ISBN : 0-683-30596-4
Principles of Neural Science (2000)
Kandel, Schwartz, Jessel
McGraw-Hill/Appleton & Lange
ISBN : 0838577016
An Anthropologist on Mars (1998)
Oliver Sacks
Vintage Books
ISBN: 0679756973
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1998)
Oliver Sacks     Touchstone Books     ISBN: 0684853949

Lectures will highlight key concepts from the textbook and readings on reserve in the Zuhl Library.  Students are responsible for mastering the concepts in the readings whether or not they are discussed in class by the instructor.  The instructor is available to discuss material from lectures and readings during scheduled office hours and by appointment. .

Earning Grade Points:  Grades will be calculated by adding the total points earned on the term exams, the cumulative Final Exam, the term paper, and other assignments.  A total of 1000 pts may be earned during the course. YOU MUST TAKE THE FINAL EXAM.  Any questions and concerns about grading or errors in grading should be discussed with the instructor within 2 weeks of the return date of the graded assignment.
Exams: (630 pts) There will be three in class term exams of varying length and one final exam. The final exam (255 points) includes a cumulative portion worth 170 points and new material covered after Exam 3 worth 85 points.
Term paper: (150 pts)  Topics should be selected in consultation with the instructor.  Examples of appropriate subjects for paper topics are included in the following list.  The term paper will consist of your critical summary of five original journal articles, only one of which may be a review.  Details of what should be included in the term paper and how to organize the term paper  are posted here:INSTRUCTIONS .  The term paper will be due Apr 23, 2002.
Aging and the Brain
Aging and Sensory Systems
Biomedical Engineering to the Nervous System
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Development of the Nervous System
Drugs and the Brain
Evolution of the Brain
Genetic Basis of  Behavior
Neural Basis of Attention Deficit Disorders
Neurotransmitters and Behavior
Neurodegenerative Diseases and their Genetic Basis
Sexual Dimorphism and the Brain
Signal Transduction in Sensory Cells
Stress and the Brain
Tumors, Cancer and the Nervous System
Viral Invasion of the Brain
Assignments (220 points) You will be required to complete several take home assignments.  Some of these will involve using the library and internet.  These assignments will be announced in class and some will be posted on this web site.
Grade Scale: The grade scale may be curved at the end of the semester at the discretion of the instructor.
A     900-1000 pts
B     800-899 pts
C     700-799 pts
D     600-699 pts
F     < 600 pts
S     (Satisfactory) requires a C-
S/U Option: Students must meet all requirements of the course.  A grade of C- is required  to receive an S in the course.
Attendance Students are responsible for all material covered in class as well as any previously unannounced assignments that are given out in class.  Therefore  students are expected to attend all classes.  Contact the instructor BEFOREHAND if you will be unable to attend class.

If you miss an exam...:

Late assignments. 10% of the total points will be deducted for each week the assignment is late. Assignments will not be accepted if handed in more than 2 weeks after the due date.

Neuroscience Scholarships and Financial Aid

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