Neurobiology 204: Neurophysiology of Central Circuits
Spring 2011


Time
: Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Location: Goldenson Building, Rm. 229


Co-Directors: Rachel Wilson and Rick Born

rachel_wilson[at]hms.harvard.edu, 432-5571
rborn[at]hms.harvard.edu, 432-1307

Faculty: Rachel Wilson, Rick Born, John Assad, Michael Do, Gabriel Kreiman, Margaret Livingstone, John Maunsell


The mission of this course is to equip students with the knowledge they need to understand the fundamental concepts underlying current research in systems neuroscience.

 

PREREQUISITES

 

Neuro 200/HST-130 (“Introduction to Neuroscience”) is recommended but not strictly required. If you have not taken this course, please let the instructors know.

 

Schedule

 

Wednesday class will be a two-hour lecture. Monday class will be a group discussion of a paper.
The course schedule is available as a Google Calendar: search “NB204” under public calendars at www.google.com/calendar.

Unit

Theme

Faculty

Wednesday lecture

Monday discussion

assignment

(due Monday)

1

Receptive fields and neural codes

Born/Wilson

Jan. 26
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

Jan. 31
Thomson & Kristan 2006

Full summary

2

Adaptation and efficient coding

Wilson

Feb. 2 - CANCELLED due to snow
Mini-syllabus
required: Dunn & Rieke 2006
optional: Berry & Meister 1999
optional: Simoncelli & Olshausen 2001

Feb. 7
Dunn & Rieke 2008

Full summary

3

Sensing and expectation

Wilson

Feb. 9
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

Feb. 14
Sawtell & Williams 2008

Full summary

4

“Why have multiple cortical areas?”

Born

Feb. 16
Mini-syllabus
required: Barlow 1986

optional: O'Leary & Sahara 2008
optional: Chenn & Walsh 2002
Lecture slides

no class Feb. 21

(Presidents’ Day)

none

5

Plasticity and learning

Born

Feb. 23
Mini-syllabus
required: Raymond et al. 1996
Lecture slides

Feb. 28
De Zeeuw et al. 1998

Short summary & assessment

6

“Why is there domain-specific cortex?”

Livingstone

Mar. 2
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

Mar. 7
Freiwald & Tsao 2010

Short summary & assessment

7

Robustness and modularity

Born/Wilson

 

Mar. 9
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

no class Mar. 14

Short summary & assessment

no class Mar. 16

Mar. 21
Goaillard et al. 2009

8

Neural computation – a case study

Assad

Mar. 23
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

Mar. 28
Carr & Konishi 1990

Full summary

9

Attention

Maunsell

Mar. 30
Mini-syllabus

Apr. 4
Lovejoy & Krauzlis 2010

Short summary & assessment

10

Modeling neural circuits

Kreiman

Apr. 6
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

Apr. 11
Hopfield 1982
optional: Tank & Hopfield 1987

Short summary & assessment

11

Setting the limits of sensory detection

Do

Apr. 13
Mini-syllabus
Lecture slides

Apr. 18
Okawa et al. 2010
optional: Field et al. 2005
optional: Burns & Pugh 2010

Short summary & assessment

12

Neurons & perception

Maunsell

Apr. 20

Apr. 25

Short summary & assessment

HOMEWORK
 
Homework guidelines:
Each week, a research paper pertaining to that week’s theme will be posted on the course website. Your assignment will be to write about that paper. In the first part of the course, you will be asked to write a “Full summary”, where the goal is to describe the background, logic, major results, and major conclusions of the paper. In the second part of the course, you will be asked to write a “Short summary & assessment”, where the summary portion is shorter and you are also expected to assess the paper’s strengths and weaknesses. Please review the specific guidelines for these essays and the sample assignment.
 
Saving homework files:
Homeworks must be saved as Word doc or docx files (not as pdf files). Name your file surname_X, where X is the Unit of the course. For example, Jane Smith’s assignment for Unit 3 would be called Smith_3.doc.
 
Submitting homework:
Please e-mail homework to nb204homework@gmail.com by 10:00am Monday, before class begins. Homework not received by 10:00am sharp will be given zero credit. If your homework is received successfully, you will receive an automated email reply. If you don’t receive an automated reply, you should assume your email was not received on time. In this case, the only way you can be sure of receiving any credit is to hand-deliver a hard copy of your homework in class at 10:00am. Given this, you are urged to send your email and check for an automated reply before 9:45am.

Final exam

Your final exam will consist of a “Short summary & assessment” on one of the following papers. The guidelines for these essays are the same as for your homeworks.

Brand & Grothe 2002
Carafo & Rieke 2010
Yamane et al. 2008 (for a perspective, see this)
Li & DiCarlo 2008
London et al. 2010
Leingartner et al. 2007
Niell & Stryker 2010

Please e-mail your essay to nb204homework@gmail.com by Monday May 2 at 12:00 noon. If you do not receive an email bounceback from the inbox, it is your responsibility to make sure that a copy is in Rachel's hands by the time it is due.


TECHNICAL BACKGROUND MATERIAL

 
Additional background on some of the statistical and analytical methods we occasionally encounter in the course can be found here.


Grading

Final grades will be computed as follows:

homework - 60%

final exam - 20%

class participation - 20%

Grades will be lowered for repeated absenteeism or arriving late to class.  


PREVIOUS OFFERINGS

 
Syllabi from previous years are available from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.