Neural Systems and Behavior summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory

The Neural Systems & Behavior (NS&B) course at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole (Mass.) has been co-directed by André Fenton and Hans Hofmann since 2012. This intensive eight-week lecture and laboratory course focusing on the neural basis of behavior is intended for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and independent investigators. Students investigate neural systems at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels using state-of-the-art techniques and several different experimental model systems. The list of experimental model systems is updated year-to-year but always includes a diverse array of vertebrate and invertebrate preparations, chosen to illustrate key concepts and novel techniques. These experimental techniques are taught by a team of leading experts on a wide range of topics including: sensory processing and feature detection, sensory-motor integration, the cellular basis of pattern generation, the development and neuromodulatory control of cell and circuit specificity, spatial memory, learning and plasticity, and social communication. The laboratory provides access to many complementary methods including intracellular recording, single-cell dye-injection, patch-clamp, whole-cell voltage and current clamp, analysis of synaptic transmission and plasticity, neural genetics, quantitative behavioral methods, and computational neurobiology.

After learning new techniques, students design, perform, and analyze the results of their own project. These projects offer an exceptional opportunity to combine newly learned skills in a creative manner. In addition to daily lectures given by course faculty, NS&B also sponsors the MBL Wednesday night seminar series, given by invited lecturers and distinguished visiting scholars.

BIO 206L Structure and Function of Organisms
This is an introductory biology lab course at UT Austin that focuses on the structure and function of organisms within an evolutionary framework. This lab seeks to establish a foundation for understanding how function can be intuited from structure, and structure can be seen to derive from function, within and across biological systems. Throughout the semester, students are exposed to a diversity of biological material and laboratory methods in an experimental environment. They conduct a series of exercises to illustrate structure-function relationships, and write lab reports to explain their observations as well as their biological significance.

BIO 384K / NEU 385L Biological Foundations of Decision Making

How do we make these decisions? Why do we make them the way we do? This graduate seminar on the biological underpinnings of how we make decisions was offered in the Fall of 2009 and 2013. The seminar explores the mechanisms biological organisms use to make decisions and how these mechanisms evolved. We first attempt to define a conceptual framework for decision-making that can be applied across levels of biological organization. Then, we survey current research on how animals make decisions using genetic, neurobiological and evolutionary approaches.

BIO 361T Comparative Animal Physiology
Comparative Animal Physiology is an exciting and broad field of biological science. Situated within an evolutionary framework, it integrates information across many levels of biological organization and has experienced dramatic growth in several areas including neurophysiology and molecular processes in recent years. This upper division course has been offered every spring semester from 2006 through 2011, and teaches students about molecular, cellular, endocrine and systems-level mechanisms that allow diverse animals to function in the face of environmental change and in interactions with other individuals. We discuss the important concepts that drive our understanding of organismic function and illustrate them with examples that in many cases will relate to our own life experiences.