Current Topics in Neuroscience

Course Leader

Patricio Huerta, PhD

Academic Schedule

This is a one semester course held every 3 years in the late winter/spring semester (2013, 2016, etc); meets weekly for 2 hrs per week.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Overall purpose/objective

This course is intended for graduate students (physicians, physicians-in-training, scientists-in-training) to present current topics in neuroscience. These topics will be presented in four units: (1) neurons and glia as building blocks for brains; (2) neural communication and plasticity; (2) systems neuroscience; and (4) “sick” brains.

Conduct of the course

The course consists of a combination of didactic lectures by faculty using the textbook “Principles of Neural Science” (5th Edition) and team-based debates of current topics in the field of neuroscience (using recent publications in the field) by the students. In addition, the last unit will include invited speakers from the Elmezzi School of Molecular Medicine and the Feinstein Institute, who will discuss their research on various brain diseases.

After completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe neurophysiology (neural structure and function), neurotransmitters, and their functions (in the normal brain and affected brain)
  • Discuss the biological basis of learning and memory
  • Explain the key concepts of systems neuroscience and their link to organized behavior
  • Define how changes in neural processing impact brain health


Attendance of course lectures and debates is mandatory. Excused absences must be approved in advance.

Formative: Students will be assessed on their attendance, participation in debates and in-class discussions.

Summative: At the end of each of the 4 units, students will be assessed on tests/papers.

Final grades will be comprised of attendance (20%), participation (25%), debate presentations (30%), and final paper/exam (25%). A minimum score of 80% is required to pass the course.


The textbook for this course is “Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition (2012), Eric Kandel et al., eds. In addition, students will be required to read recent, relevant research and review papers in the field of neuroscience (as assigned) and be prepared to discuss.