NBB 361W - Neurophysiology Laboratory

Description from OPUS

Record intracellularly and extracellularly from invertebrates to examine sensory and motor circuits, synaptic plasticity, and ionic bases of potentials. Part of the semester is devoted to student-designed projects. Special attention is given to scientific writing and presentation of data.

Further Information

Do you want to put electrodes in neurons and record action potentials? Look at activity of sensory and motor neurons? Record postsynaptic potentials? Investigate synaptic plasticity? Test the effects of neuromodulators (on research animals)? Design your own projects? If any of these things interest you, take NBB 361W this spring. It also counts as a writing requirement and meets the upper-level lab course requirement for BIO majors. 

NBB 361W is a laboratory course in the theory and techniques of neurophysiology, using invertebrate model systems. Techniques include extracellular recording, intracellular recording, computer data acquisition, and analysis of laboratory results. Topics include sensory receptor properties, postural motor nerve activity, synaptic plasticity, motor pattern generation, neuromodulation, and ionic bases of resting and action potentials. Part of the semester is devoted to student-designed projects. This is a writing-intensive course, with lab and project reports written in the form of scientific papers. 

We meet for two lectures and one lab each week. 4 credits, taught every spring, limit of 16 students.

Prerequisite: NBB 301 (BIO 360).

See the 2016 Syllabus for a list of topics and descriptions of assignments.

Learning objectives

  • Understand experimental techniques in neurophysiology.
  • Become technically competent with extracellular and intracellular recording.
  • Become technically competent with dissection.
  • Deepen understanding of ionic mechanisms underlying neural excitability and intracellular communication.
  • Refine skills in communicating scientific results in written and oral form.
  • Refine skills analyzing data and presenting it clearly in graphical and written form.
  • Refine skills in critical reading of primary scientific literature.
  • Refine ability to develop and test hypotheses. 

Comments from Previous Students

"The most fun and rewarding course of my college career"
"Being able to actually demonstrate basic principles of neuroscience that we only read about in other courses was a fantastic opportunity"
"A unique lab experience"
"My writing improved substantially"
"I am better prepared for the challenge of doing my honors thesis next year."
"Now I can confidently construct a research paper!"
"Feedback helped me improve my scientific writing skills."
"This class really helps with scientific writing and experimental techniques."
"Working on the final project and finding good data was really exciting."
"Pre-meds take a lot of labs, but none teach the amount of skills I got in this class."
"Be prepared to put in a lot of time on the papers, but it's worth it."