Neuronal Networks in Vivo


Course Objective

The aim of this exciting course is to provide insight into the most
intricate neuronal network of the brain – the cortical microcircuit. You
will learn the basic floor plan of the cortex and find out the function
of different layers and multiple cell types, framed in the context of
different cognitive behaviours. As the course title suggests, all topics
will be addressed from the in vivo perspective, combining cortical
function with (animal) behaviour. You will learn the most recent
technological breakthroughs in the fields of in vivo electrophysiology,
imaging, opto- and chemo-genetics.

Course Content

The course starts with plenary lectures on cortical circuitry and on
recent advances to study the properties of cortical networks. These
advances involve in vivo imaging and electrophysiological techniques
that are applied in anaesthetized and awake animals, and tools to probe
causality between neuronal activity and behaviour (optogenetics and
chemogenetics). The lectures will gradually merge into a master class
setting where you will work on two assignments: a poster and a
mini-thesis. On the methods poster (individual assignment) you will
highlight a recently developed (in vivo) technique and present the
advantages and disadvantages to your peer students. In the mini-thesis
(duo-setting, pdf and pptx) you will review two experimental papers
(from a pre-selected or self-chosen set) and write a critical
evaluation. In addition, the course features demonstrations of in vivo
electrophysiology experiments and involve a workshop where you learn how
to discriminate and recognize different cortical cell types using real
rat, mouse and human brain slices.

Teaching Methods

Lectures 27 hours 48% 2.9 ECTS
Demo’s in vivo experiments 8 hours 14% 0.8 ECTS
Poster session 8 hours 14% 0.8 ECTS
Cell identific. workshop 3 hours 6% 0.4 ECTS
Final presentations 10 hours 18% 1.1 ECTS

Total 56 hours 100% 6.0 ECTS

Method of Assessment

1) Written Examination

2) Poster presentation

3) Written thesis (Report, 5 pages) on an in vivo topic, accompanied by
a Topic Presentation. The topic can fall into three catagories: 1) a
"hot" current topic in the field. 2) the topic covers a set of papers
conflicting outcomes or 3) the topic covers similar outcomes with
different in vivo approaches.

Final grading depends on Examination (pass/fail), Poster Presentation
(33%), Report (33%), and Topic Presentation (33%). All components have
be passed.


Harris and Shepherd 2015 and
Markram et al 2015 or
Kasthuri et al 2015

Target Audience

Master of Neurosciences students of VU Amsterdam or students
from other universities participating in a comparable (Neuroscience)
master program. Students not in the target group should contact the
course coordinator prior to enrolment and discuss eligibility

Additional Information

Guest Lecturers:
Sarah Hunt, Dr.
Jean Pie, MSc.
Laurens Witter, Dr.

General Information

Course Code AM_1001
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. C.P.J. de Kock
Examiner dr. C.P.J. de Kock
Teaching Staff dr. C.P.J. de Kock

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Study Group, Practical