Neuronal Networks and Behavior

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

This course is designed for life sciences students who want to learn
more about how networks of brain cells control behaviour. To this end,
we will discuss different aspects of brain function covering sensory
information processing, control of movement, learning and memory,
spatial navigation, cognition, emotions. We will focus on how neuronal
networks in different brain areas give rise to these functions.
After completen this course the students will be able to:

1. Explain the biological basis of perception (vision, auditory
processing, smell and taste), motor and behavioural control, and
cognitive and emotional processes. In addition, you will get an
understanding of the neurobiological basis of a number of neurological
and psychiatric disorders.
2. Explain the general plan of human sensory and movement systems.
3. Apply this general plan to explain the differences and
similarities between different sensory systems.
4. Give examples of how and through which neurons and nuclei signal
transduction proceeds during interaction of the human brain with the
external environment.
5. Apply this knowledge in performing scientific research
6. Create new research ideas based on the learned practical and
theoretical knowledge.

The students will develop the following academic skills:
1. Search for and read scientific literature, extract important
2. Utilise the theoretical background from course lectures and
practicals to critically evaluate neuroscience research, formulate
critical questions and participate in discussion.
3. Acquire hands-on experience in recording from neuronal networks,
conducting experiments and analyzing own data. The students will learn
how to stimulate neurons and record synaptic communication within
neuronal networks, induce synaptic learning.
4. Design and conduct own experiment based on the learned technique
5. Develop practical experimentation skills on analysis of human
startle responses and its sensory and emotional modulation.
6. Summarise the experimental results in a lab report

Inhoud vak

In Neuronal Networks & Behaviour we will discuss different aspects of
brain function ranging from sensory information processing, control of
movement, learning and memory to cognition and emotions. We will study
how neuronal networks in different brain areas give rise to these
functions. To achieve this, we will use a combination of lectures,
written assignments and practicals. These will build on chapters from
the book ‘Neuroscience’ by Purves and colleagues (5th edition).

To actively engage you in exploring the exciting territory of neurons
that shape our behaviour, the first two weeks will be centred on working
on assignments. These assignments are designed to help you prepare for
the lectures. In this way the lectures will go deeper on the subjects
that you already worked on through the assignment and will resolve the
questions that may arise during this preparation. During the lecture we
will often work in smaller groups to discuss the material. In the second
week, a series of practicals will start. During the first practical you
will perform experiments on neuronal networks in brain slices and will
learn basic principles of neuronal network function. You will even have
an opportunity to design and perform your own experiment under
supervision. The second practical takes you to experimenting with
behaviour and modulation of sensory information processing. Here you can
be the subject of the experiment yourself.


1. Assignments
A system of short Turnitin Assignments was designed to help you with
mastering the course material and prepare for the lectures. You will
receive at each lecture during the first 2 weeks a short list of
questions that you will complete and send using Turnitin Assignments on
BB before the next lecture. The questions will be discussed during the
subsequent lecture. If you submit all the assignments on time you will
get 0.5 extra points added to your exam grade. The primary goal of these
assignments is not to find the correct answers but for you to discover
difficult issues before the lecture, so that we can adequately address
your questions. Completion of all assignments is obligatory for all

2. Lectures (l) by dr. N. Goriounova and dr. O.Stiedl
The first day will start with an opening lecture during which the aims
of the course are highlighted. The first week will contain lectures on
sensory systems; during the second week we will discuss the motor
control of behavior memory and cognition. You are expected to complete
the assignments before the lectures so that we can discuss the topics
and address unclear issues in depth.
Hours per student: 24 hrs

3. Hippocampal brain slice practical (pra) by J. Timmerman
In the second week, the practicals on neuronal networks from the
hippocampus will expose you to the actual experimentation that is done
to understand functioning of neuronal networks. It will provide you with
an insight with what it takes to do research, and it will help you to
understand some of the concepts discussed in the course. During the
practicals, we will divide the class into multiple small teams of
maximum 12 students. You will work in groups of 3 on one experimental
Hours per student: 4
4. Startle eye-blink practical (pra) by dr. O. Stiedl
In the third week, experiments on human subjects are performed with an
emphasis on startle reflex modulation in humans. In addition, a number
of key primary research articles are discussed that facilitate the
understanding of which brain areas are involved in emotional learning
and central reflex modulation.
Hours per student: 5


The grading procedure will be as follows:
1. Assignments (A): pass/fail. All assignments are to be submitted
2. Practicals (P): pass/fail. Participation in practicals is obligatory
3. Written reports (R): from the practicals corrected after tutor’s
feedback. Report electrophysiology practical 10% of the final grade;
report startle reflex practical 10%.
4. Written exam (E) consisting of open questions 80%
5. Bonus points of 0.5 added to the exam grade in case all assignments
are well done and submitted before deadlines
Grades for the reports and exam should be at least 5.5 and can non
compensate each other
Written exam (E)

Vereiste voorkennis

Understanding of cell biology, neuronal communication and neuro-anatomy.
Purves et al (5th edition) "Neuroscience" Chapters 1-8


Neuroscience, Purves, Sinauer Associates Inc.,U.S., 5th Revised edition,
ISBN: 9780878936953

Up-to-date course materials are posted on the site to which all students
and lecturers have access. Background information for this course,
relevant literature and copies of all lecture PowerPoints will be
provided in the Course Documents folder on Canvas.


This course is part of the track ‘Neurosciences’ of the minor
‘Biomolecular Sciences and Neurosciences’.

Overige informatie

In addition to the lectures and practicals, we will pay attention to the
development of a number of important academic skills: presenting
scientific information in an oral presentation, reading and
understanding primary research articles, and designing experiments.
These skills will not only be crucial later in your scientific career,
but will also help you to learn to distinguish main topics and messages
from side issues when preparing for the lectures of your fellow
students, or even when preparing your exam.

The track ‘Neurosciences’ is an excellent preparation for the Master

This minor course requires a minimum of 25 participants to take place.

Aanbevolen voorkennis

Basic (first and second year level) courses in Cell Biology and

Algemene informatie

Vakcode AB_1051
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P3
Vakniveau 300
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Bètawetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. N.A. Goriounova
Examinator dr. N.A. Goriounova
Docenten dr. R.M. Meredith
dr. M. Meijer
dr. R. Min
ing. A.J. Timmerman
dr. T.S. Heistek
dr. N.A. Goriounova
dr. L. Witter

Praktische informatie

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Werkvormen Hoorcollege, Werkgroep, Practicum