Columbia University

Kavli Institute for Brain Science

W3005y/w4005 Neurobiology II: Neural circuits                                                              Spring 2012   

Syllabus 12/1/11


Lectures: Tu./Th. 4:10-5:25 Room: 207 Math

Auditors allowed after permission is granted.

Course website:

Instructor: Rafael Yuste,

Guest lecturers: Thomas Jessell, Scott Small & Eric Kandel

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4 pm, 906 NWC building or by appointment

Teaching Assistants:

            Scott Bolkan <>

Armen Enikolopov <>

            TR Reardon <>

            Francesco Lotti <>

William Shin <>


REQUIREMENTS: This course is the "capstone" course for the Neurobiology and Behavior undergraduate major at Columbia University and will be taught by Faculty of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia. It is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Knowledge of Cellular Neuroscience (how an action potential is generated and how a synapse works) will be assumed. It is strongly recommended that students take w3004 Neurobiology 1: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, or a similar course, before enrolling in w3005. Students unsure about their backgrounds should check a representative syllabus of w3004 in


TEXT: Required: Neuroscience: Purves et al, 2011, Sinauer, 5th edition.

The text is available at the Columbia Bookstore and in also in Book Culture. Several copies should be on reserve at the NWC Science Library. During the weekly recitations, students will present and discuss papers from the primary literature posted on the course website:


RECITATIONS: Students read and discuss in depth selected research papers posted in the Courseworks website. Weekly attendance at the recitations is mandatory for a passing grade and active participation counts in the final grade. Recitations will take place on:


Monday 5:45-7pm, Fairchild 1000, Enikolopov

Tuesday 5:45-7pm, Fairchild 1000, Bolkan

Wednesday 5:45-7pm, Fairchild 1000, Lotti

Thursday 5:45-7pm, Fairchild 1000, Reardon

Friday 5:45-7pm, Fairchild 1000, Shin


All students need to sign up for one recitation with the corresponding TA and are required to attend that recitation till the end of the semester. The final exam will incorporate material from the recitations. The first recitations will be January 24th-29th


EXAMS: Two examinations are given. Each test covers material discussed in class and primary research articles discussed in the recitations. The exams take place during class. Rescheduling of exams is only granted under exceptional circumstances, in cases of serious illness or personal crisis, and the student is required to present a letter from the undergraduate dean as well as other supporting evidence (such as doctor’s notes, etc.).  Please note all exam dates ASAP and make travel arrangements accordingly.


GRADING: Each exam will contribute 40% towards the semester grade. Participation in the recitations is required for a passing grade and will determine the remaining 20%.




A. Neural Development:

Introduction and Neuroanatomy (Appendix; Sylvius)                                                           Jan 17th

Neuroscience Laboratory Visit (Ch. 1)                                                                                   Jan 19th           

Early Brain Development (Ch. 22)                                                                                         Jan 24th  

Construction of Neural Circuits (Ch. 23)                                                                               Jan 26th  

Modification of Brain Circuits (Ch. 24)                                                                                 Jan 31st

Repair and Regeneration (Ch. 25)                                                                                          Feb 2nd  

Spinal Cord Development -Jessell                                                                                          Feb 7th  


B. Sensory Systems:

The Eye (Ch. 11)                                                                                                                     Feb 9th Central vision  (Ch. 12)                                                                                                           Feb 14th  

Auditory System (Ch. 13)                                                                                                      Feb 16th

Vestibular System (Ch. 14)                                                                                                     Feb 21st

Chemical Senses (Ch. 15)                                                                                                       Feb 23rd


FIRST TEST                                                                                                                           Feb 28th 


Somatosensory system (Ch. 9)                                                                                                Mar 1st

Pain (Ch. 10)                                                                                                                           Mar 6th


C. Motor Systems:

Motor system 1 (Ch. 16)                                                                                                         Mar 8th

Motor system 2 (Ch. 17)                                                                                                         Mar 20th  

Basal Ganglia (Ch. 18)                                                                                                            Mar 22nd

Cerebellum (Ch. 19)                                                                                                                March 27th 

Eye Movements (Ch. 20)                                                                                                        March 29th  

Visceral Motor System (Ch. 21)                                                                                             April 3rd


D. Higher brain functions:

Cognition (Ch. 26)                                                                                                                  April 5th 

Speech and Language (Ch. 27)                                                                                               April 10th

Sleep and internal states (Ch. 28)                                                                                           April 12th

Emotions (Ch. 29)                                                                                                                   April 17th

Hippocampal diseases-Small                                                                                                   April 19th

Memory (Ch. 31)-Kandel                                                                                                       April 24th  


SECOND TEST                                                                                                                     April 26th   


Recitation papers: