Synapses are the most important sites of information transfer in the nervous system. This course focuses on synaptic structure, function and development. Considerable emphasis will be placed on electrophysiological and molecular mechanisms. The first half of the course will begin with a brief review of the electrical properties of neurons and then focuses on postsynaptic signaling. The next section will focus on the presynaptic nerve terminal, and on electrical synapses. The final section will focus on synaptic development. The textbook does an excellent job of explaining current concepts. A major focus of the lectures and discussion sections will be to help you understand the experiments that led to the development of our current views.
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This course is designed to meet a requirement of the neuroscience major, and so it is anticipated that most of the students will be upper level neuroscience concentrators. However, all students who meet the prerequisites are welcome, and this course can serve as an upper level elective in several other life science concentrations.
Lectures are designed to help students develop an understanding of key concepts and consolidate their understanding via open-ended questions. The weekly GSI-led discussion section aims to reinforce understanding of lecture material, through discussion of problem sets and research papers focused on synapses.