NSC 335

Neuronal Networks and Systems

Spring 2019

Course Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Barry K. Rhoades

106 Munroe Science Center                                                                     

Office Phone: 757-5238                                                                    

Home Phone: 755-1630

Office  hours:             Monday           9:00 - 10:00 AM

                                    Tuesday           1:00 - 2:00 PM

                                    Wednesday      9:00 - 10:00 AM

                                    Thursday          1:00 - 2:00 PM

                                    Friday              9:00 -10:00 AM     

                                    or by appointment

(I will be in my office during these times.  Feel free to drop in to my office any other time from 9:00 to 5:00 weekdays.  When I am not in my office, I am often in my lab space in Munroe 101/103.  If I can meet with you at that time I will, otherwise I will make an appointment for a future time.)




Class meetings:   TBD


Textbooks:  REQUIRED:

                         Greenspan, R.J. (2007)  An Introduction to Nervous Systems  Cold Spring Harbor

                               Laboratory Press.  ISBN #9870879698218

                          Matthews, G.G. (1999) 11th Hour: Introduction to Neuroscience.  Wiley-Blackwell.

                                ISBN #9780632044146

                          Simmons, P. and Young, D. (2010) Nerve Cells and Animal Behavior (2nd Ed.) 

                                Cambridge University Press.  ISBN #9780521728485


On-line Course Materials:

       homepage:    http://pierce.wesleyancollege.edu/faculty/brhoades/courses/Nsc335manual

           syllabus:    http://pierce.wesleyancollege.edu/faculty/brhoades/courses/Nsc335manual/syllabus.html


Prerequisites:   PSY 101; BIO 103 or BIO 110; PSY/NSC 207 or consent of instructor


Course  Content:  This is a seminar-style course which explores the range of sensory, motor, and associational neuronal networks and systems in invertebrate and vertebrate animals and the experimental and analytical approaches used to understand them.  Discussions will be both instructor- and student-led.  Readings will come from three primary texts, as well as a set of journal articles, representing both classical and modern experimental work and reviews. 


The course will start with an overview of how and why neuronal networks are studied in the context of animal behavior and a rationale for our focus on "model systems".  We will review the basic cellular and intercellular anatomy and physiology to provide a background for more in-depth investigation of specific systems.  Broad topics will include sensory detection and discrimination, sensory topographical maps, motor systems for escape and rhythmic behaviors, sensorimotor integration, neuroplasticity, and broadly integrated adaptive behaviors.  We will finish with a look beyond network descriptions to advanced analytical approaches, small- and large-scale network simulations, and the application of neural networks beyond biology.


This is one of three courses which serve as the core of the neuroscience major and minor programs at Wesleyan.


Class Preparation and Participation:  The assigned readings from the required textbooks and articles on the portal represent the absolute minimal preparation necessary for each class period.  It is very important that you come to class each day having read through the assigned readings at least once.   Because well-directed discussions are more productive and enjoyable than are traditional lectures, I will try to make our class sessions as interactive as possible.  The more preparation you bring into class, the more we will have to discuss.  Your preparation also supports your fellow classmates who are leading the article discussions.


Attendance:   You are expected to attend classes regularly and any absence is potentially problematic.  Excessive unexcused absences (more than 4) from lecture will be reported to the Dean in accordance with college policy and may result in a grade reduction of one full grade.


Late Work:   Partial credit will be deducted from work that is turned in late, at the instructor's discretion.


Grading:    The semester grade will be computed on the following basis:


                                                                                        %     pts.

            Class Exam I                                                      15% =    75

            Class Exam II                                                     15% =    75

            Class Final Exam (cumulative)                             20% =  100

            Matthews Take Home Quizzes                               5% =   25

            Article Presentations (2)                                       10% =   50

            Article Summaries (2)                                          10% =   50

            NEST Simulation Poster                                      15% =   75

            Class Discussion Participation                              10% =   50

            Total                                                               100% =  500


            Grades will be based on the following scale:

            90% = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D, <60% = F.


Wesleyan College Department of Biology Policy on the Honor Code:    All students of Wesleyan College have agreed to abide by the Wesleyan College Honor Code and strict enforcement of the Honor Code will be practiced by all Biology faculty. Any violation of the Honor Code including plagiarism or cheating on exams, quizzes or any assignment will not be tolerated and will be reported to the Wesleyan College Honor Court. Cheating (giving or receiving any unauthorized information or supplying information from any source other than your memory) on any exam will result in a course semester grade of  F.  Plagiarism and/or improper citation on any assignment will be dealt with on a case by case basis, but also may result in an F grade for the assignment or the course. If a student is unclear about violation of the Honor Code for any assignment, she should contact the instructor before handing in the assignment.


Wesleyan College Statement on Disabilities: Wesleyan College is committed to equal education, full participation and access to facilities for all students. Any student who requires reasonable academic accommodations or the use of auxiliary aids in class must first identify herself  to the Director of the First Year Experience and Students in Transition who serves as the Student Disability Coordinator prior to the first day of class in the semester in which she desires to receive accommodations. Documentation by a qualified physician must be provided and will be reviewed to ensure the documentation meets the college requirements. If reasonable accommodations are established, the student is expected to collaborate with each of her professors within the first week of class to determine how the accommodations will be implemented. Accommodations will not be retroactively administered for the semester. Accommodations that decrease the integrity of a course will not be approved. Please contact Christy Henry in the Academic Center for additional information or to seek services.


If you have any disability, documented or otherwise, which might reasonably affect your ability to participate in any course activities, please consult privately with the instructor prior to the end on the drop/add period (2nd week of the course).


Civility in the Classroom: Rude, disruptive and/or disrespectful behaviors as determined by the faculty member interfere with other students’ rights and with the instructor’s ability to teach. Therefore, anyone exhibiting unacceptable behaviors during the class will be asked to leave and will be counted absent for that class period. Failure to cooperate with this process will result in disciplinary action that may include withdrawal from the class or dismissal from the College.


Cell Phones:  Please do your classmates the courtesy of turning off your cell phones during class and lab periods.  If you must answer your cell phone, please leave the room to do so.  If you leave the room, please do not come back.  If you feel that you must monitor your cell phone during class or lab, please get permission from the instructor.  Absolutely no cell phones will be allowed during examinations.


Recording Devices: All novel materials developed and presented in this course are the academic and intellectual property of the course instructor, course students, and/or Wesleyan College.  Unauthorized photography, recording, electronic monitoring, and/or web dissemination of any portions of class or laboratory sessions potentially violates the legitimate expectations of privacy of your classmates and the course instructor.  Please obtain the explicit permission of the instructor before making any video or audio recordings in this course.  Please do not, under any circumstances, post recordings from this class to electronic or social media.


Testing   Format:   Exams may include a few fill-in-the-blank, matching, identification, definition and/or multiple-choice questions.  Most questions will be of a short answer, describe/explain, compare/contrast, or diagram type.  There will also be a few synthesis questions, requiring you to apply learned concepts to some novel problem.  I will cover the exam format in greater detail in class as the first exam approaches.  I will make every effort to return graded exams to you within one week.


Articles Presentations and Summaries:  During the semester you will organize and lead the discussion of two journal articles.  For one article you will be the "leader" and will have the primary responsibility to lead the class discussion of the article.  For the other article you will be the "questioner" and will be responsible for helping the discussion along with at least two good questions.  You will also write a one-page summary or review for each of these two articles.  Written work must be typed (printed) and in hard-copy paper format.  Assignments will NOT be accepted via e-mail or ant other form of electronic submission.  You are welcome to use the printer in MSC to print materials for this class, but NOT for your other courses in other departments and programs.


Neural/Neuronal Network Modeling/Simulation Poster:  For this project, you will choose and research one application of computer modeling or simulation in the neuroscience or neural networks literature.  You will prepare and defend a poster on your research, describing the neuroscientific relevance, structure, functioning, and results of the model/simulation.  This poster must be completed, printed, and posted by the START of class on May 1 and the poster defenses will occur during our final two class periods of May 1st and May 3rd.  Be sure to allow ample time for the instructor to help you with printing your poster, and allow time to resolve printer and/or formatting issues during that process.




 (G = Greenspan, M = Matthews,  SY = Simmons & Young)  

(**articles presented by students)


   WK:  DATE:  TOPIC:                                       Texts                      Articles                         


      1     1/7      Course Introduction

             1/9    Moths vs. Bats                                                          Roeder 1965, Roeder 1967

             1/11    Star-nosed Mole Tactile Sense      SY 1(9-11)              Catania 1999                   

      2     1/14    Fruitless Flies                                 SY 1(12-17)         Clyne & Miesenbck 2008                      

             1/16    Vertebrate Nervous System           M 1,2


             1/18    Vertebrate Nervous System           M 1, 2                                                            

      3     1/21    NO CLASS - MLK HOLIDAY     

             1/23    How Neurons Work                      M 3,4,5;  SY 2(21-33)   M Unit I quiz due 

             1/25    Channels and Potentials                  G 1(5-19)                                                        

      4     1/28    Methods and Diagrams                   SY 2(21-41)           


             1/30    Modalities, Anatomy, Pathways      M  6,7,8,9,10              

             2/1      Toad Retina                                     SY 3(44-53)            Muntz 1964;

                                                                                                              M Unit II quiz due         

      5     2/4      Roach and Cricket Cerci                SY 3(53-58)           **Miller et al 1991

             2/6      More On Crickets                                                        **Jacobs & Miller 1985

             2/8      Barnacle and Fly Vision                  SY 5(90-117); G 2                                        

      6     2/11    Catchup and REVIEW                                                      

             2/13    Midterm Exam 1


             2/15    More on Moles                              SY 1(9-11)          **Kaas & Catania 2002    

      7     2/18    Owl Auditory Localization              SY 6(126-140)    

             2/20               "                                                                        Knudsen & Konishi 1979               

             2/22               "                                                                          **Konishi 1993              

      8     2/25     Bat Echolocation                                                             Griffin 1958

             2/27              "                                         SY 6(140-157)

             3/1                "                                                                           **Neuweiler 2003 

                                                                                                             M Unit III Quiz due         

             3/4 - 3/8                 NO CLASS FALL BREAK                                                            


      9     3/11     Vertebrate Motor Anatomy            M 11,12,13,14,15      

             3/13     Crayfish Escapes                           SY 4(60-78)           **Herberholz et al 2002   

             3/15     Fish Escapes                                 SY 4(79-88)              **Liu & Fetcho 1999    

             3/18     Slug Swimming                              SY 7(169-172)          

             3/20     Lobster Gastic Mill                        SY 7(172-174)      **Marder & Bucher 2007  

             3/22     Leech Swimming                           G 3(52-58)                 **Taylor et al 2000       


     11    3/25     Fish Electroreception and JAR       SY 9(237-244)          Heiligenberg 1989;

                                                                                                   **Matsushita & Kawasaki 2005

             3/27     Locust Flight                                  SY 7(175-188)        Weis-Fogh 1956                    

             3/29                "                                                                  **Stevenson & Kutsch 1987  

     12    4/1       Catchup and REVIEW                                                    

             4/3       Midterm Exam 2                                                                                                       


             4/5       Aplysia Gill Withdrawal                  G 4(59-75)             **Hawkins et al 2006

                                                                                                              M Unit IV quiz due                

     13    4/8      Honeybee Learning                         SY 8(195-202)        **article TBD

             4/10    Fly Circadian Rhythms & Reproduction  G 5,7,8

             4/12    Birdsong                                         SY 8(245-257)      Nottebahm 199               


      14   4/15    Birdsong                                         SY 8(245-257)      **Brainard & Doupe 2000                  

             4/17             NO CLASS - STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP DAY            

             4/19             NO CLASS - GOOD FRIDAY  HOLIDAY                                                   


     15    4/22     Crayfish Informational Analysis                                    **Theunissen et al. 1991

             4/24     Simulating with SWIMMY   (download and practice with SWIMMY before class)

             4/26                      "                                                                                                             

     16    4/29      Student Poster Presentations  POSTERS DUE AT 12:30

             5/1        Student Poster Presentations

                          All written work due by 5:00 PM

             5/2        READING DAY                                                                                             

             TBD     FINAL EXAM