BSCI 353 – Principles of Neuroscience – Fall 2013

Course Objectives:

1. Understand the cellular and molecular basis of nervous system function

2. Understand how signals are generated and processed in the nervous system

3. Understand how the nervous system develops and is modified by experience

4. Make the lecture periods into discussions which promote active learning.




Dr. Richard Payne, email:

Hours: Wed and Thurs 9:30 am - 10 am
Office – BPS 3220


Text: Neuroscience. 5th  Ed . Edited by Dale Purves, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, and Leonard E. White. Publisher: Sinauer Associates Inc. 2012


Dr. Elizabeth Quinlan, email:

Hours: By appointment, T/Th after class

Lecture syllabus


Times: Tues, Thurs 12:30 – 1:45pm HJP 0226


Unit 1. Introduction and Anatomy

9/3       Introduction to course and to neuroscience, Cellular anatomy of neurons (Chap 1)
9/5       Cellular anatomy of neurons and glia.
Neuronal Function (Chap. 1)

9/10     Neuronal circuits, electrical recording and imaging methods (Chap. 1 and Appendix)

9/12(i) Gross anatomy of the Nervous system. (Appendix)


Unit 2. The Biophysics of Isolated Neurons
9/12(ii) Electrical potential, current, capacitance and resistance (Chaps 1 and 2)

9/17     The cell membrane and cytoplasm. The resting membrane potential and the role of channels and ion pumps in determining the membrane potential. Permeability and action potentials. (Chaps 1 - 4)

9/19     The electrical model of the neuron. Propagation of the action potential. Voltage clamp (Chaps. 1- 4)

Release of review questions for response on Top Hat Monocle (15 points). Responses due on Top Hat before Lecture on 9/24


9/24     Patch Clamp recordings, isolation and cloning of channels (Chaps 3 and 4).


9/26     EXAM I 11/5 - Material from lectures on 9/3 to 9/24 (inclusive); 75 points.  


Unit 3. Signal Transmission and Neuronal Cell biology

10/1     Synaptic transmission and Neurotransmitter systems (Chaps. 5 and 6)

10/3     The coding of information in the nervous system, Simple neuronal circuits – excitation and inhibition (Chap 5. pp 97-106). Neuronal oscillators, Modeling neurons and neuronal circuits (no assigned text)

10/8     Intracellular signaling. Regulation of gene expression in neurons (Chaps. 7)


Unit 4. Sensory Neurobiology

10/10   Somatosensation and pain (Chaps. 9  and 10)

10/15   Photoreception and the vertebrate retina (Chap. 11)

10/17   Central visual pathways and visual illusions (Chap 12)
10/22   The ear and auditory transduction. Central auditory processing (Chap.13)

10/24   The chemical senses (Chap. 15)


Unit 5. Motor Neurobiology
10/29   Spinal control of movement (Chap. 16)

Release of review questions for response on Top Hat Monocle (15 points). Responses due on Top Hat before Lecture on 10/31

10/31   Brain control of movement, the basal ganglia and the cerebellum (Chaps. 17-19).


11/5     EXAM II - Material from lectures on 10/1 to 10/31 (inclusive); 75 points.  


The following lectures will be delivered by Dr. Quinlan:


Unit 6. Cortical Function

11/7     Elemental forms of learning (Chap. 8A)

11/19   Signaling pathways in memory formation (Chap. 8B)

11/21   Modification of Brain Circuits (Chap. 24)

11/26   Association Cortices (Chap. 26)


Thanksgiving Recess November 28 – December 1


12/3     Neurobiology of Speech (parts of Chap. 27) Nervous System Repair (parts of Chap 25)

12/5     Emotions (Chap. 29)

12/10   The Neurobiology of Addiction (No textbook chapter assigned)

Release of review questions for response on Top Hat Monocle (15 points). Responses due on Top Hat before Lecture on 12/12

12/12   Memory (Chap. 31).


Friday, Dec 20, 1:30pm-3:30pm, room HJP 0226. Final exam consisting of……


a)     Material from lectures on 11/7 –12/12 (inclusive); 50 points.

b)     Cumulative material delivered in all of the semester’s lectures; 75 points.  




Grading Policy

This course follows the University Policy on Academic Dishonesty

Course Requirements: Students will be required to complete two lecture exams and a comprehensive final (3 credits)

The required assignments have the following point values:

- Two written semester exams - 75 points each

- Final written examination (50 points from final lecture sections plus 75 points cumulative from all lectures) - 125 points total

- Three Top Hat Monocle review question set for semester and final exams – 45 points total

Therefore the point total for the course is 320 points

Minimum points required for Final Course Grades will be assigned as follows:

A+       300

A         283

A-        271

B+       261

B         249

B-        239

C+       230

C         217

C-        207

D+       197

D         185

D-        175     

F          <175               

There will be no further "curving". If everyone earns an "A", so much the better! You either have the points or you don't. Examinations will not be regraded except in cases of incorrect addition of points or mistakes on the part of the grader.

Make-up examinations will be given only for University approved reasons. Please refer to the most recent UMCP catalog for details.