Nsci2100: Human Neuroanatomy

Course News
Lab Manual


Directors:       Dr. Steven McLoon - lectures (mcloons@umn.edu)

                        Dr. Yasushi Nakagawa - labs (nakagawa@umn.edu)

When:             Fall Semester

                        Lectures - Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1:25–2:15PM

                        Laboratories – one 2 hour session per week, 6 possible times:

Sections 2, Monday, 10:10–12:10

Sections 3 & 4, Monday, 2:30–4:30

Section 5, Tuesday, 1:25–3:25

Section 6, Wednesday, 10:10–12:10

Section 7, Thursday, 10:10–12:10

Section 8, Thursday, 1:25–3:25

Where:           Lectures – Moos Tower 2-620

                        Laboratories – MCB 3-146B

Credits:          4 [fulfills LE Biological Sciences Lab Core requirement]

Prerequisites: none required; high school level biology recommended

                       However, as a 2000 level course, this class covers more material and at a greater depth than does the typical 1000 course. It is expected that students are self-motivated and able to keep up with the material.

Students:     This course is appropriate for all undergraduate students. Knowledge of fundamental neuroscience will provide students with a better understanding of many biological processes that impact daily life including learning and addiction. Almost everyone will face making a difficult medical decision regarding a neurological condition during their lifetime. This course will provide students with an understanding that will help them make better informed decisions. The nervous system integrates most systems of our body, and thus an understanding of the nervous system provides a broad perspective on many bodily functions. Furthermore, this course will teach the scientific method, which can be applied to many problems in life.

                       Students that plan to do further study in biology, medicine, psychology or education will find this course particularly valuable.

                        Students from all disciplines will have an equal chance of obtaining an 'A' grade.

Liberal Ed:   The goal of the University’s liberal education requirement is for students to study a variety of disciplines and to learn how knowledge of one discipline can be applied to many activities in one’s life. This course will introduce all the major parts of the nervous system, will show how the different parts work together to make functional systems, and will touch on how alterations in one system can affect the function of others. This knowledge will provide insight into the relationships between different aspects of our lives such as the link between sleep and learning or sensory-motor integration and reaction times when driving.

Biology Core: The study of neuroanatomy in this course will cover many of the fundamental principles of biology. The basic structure of the cell will be reviewed and the unique features of a neuron will be covered. During this course students will gain insight into one of the most fundamental precepts of biology: in multicellular organisms, the activities of individual cells are linked together into functional systems that influence the life and activity of the entire organism.

Description:  The vertebrate nervous system is possibly the most complex, highly evolved biological system. The functional unit of the nervous system is the nerve cell or neuron, and the human nervous system has approximately 10,000 unique types of neurons. Most neurons have a wire-like process, the axon. Neurons carry information to other cells via their axons and communicate with those cells via a transfer of chemicals at synapses. The connections among neurons are organized into functional systems. Disease affecting a small number of cells can affect the function of many parts of the nervous system.

                        This course will provide a broad introduction to the nervous system with an emphasis on the human nervous system. The course will introduce the structure and function of neurons, the major anatomical parts of the nervous system and the main functional systems. Functional systems will be approached through an understanding of the anatomical circuitry. The fundamental concepts of neurochemical communication studied in general terms in the first part of the course will be re-examined relative to specific functional systems later in the course. Although the major focus of the course will be on the normal nervous system, common diseases will be introduced for each main topic. Students will gain an understanding of the nature of many common neurological diseases, which will provide further insight into how the normal nervous system functions. The anatomical substrates of learning/memory, emotions and drug actions will be examined. Through the assigned readings, lectures, and laboratory exercises, students are expected to gain an understanding of the neural circuitry and information processing responsible for the diverse range of human behaviors.

                       The course requires a weekly laboratory session in which the human brain will be studied. Real brains will be studied from the gross to microscopic level. We also will do a number of experiments that will help us better understand the functional systems we are studying.

                        For each topic covered, we will touch on the limits of our understanding and on the focus of current research. Students will gain an appreciation for how scientific research is conducted and how research has changed and is likely to continue to change our understanding. We will define the ‘scientific method’, which has broad application to problem solving in the modern world, and will see its application in current neuroscience research. We will distinguish between data obtained by controlled experiments from correlational data.

Website:     You found it. Bookmark it now.

                       [Note that useful information and important announcements will be posted as issues arise on the ‘Course News’ page of this website.]

Lecture notes: Available for download as a PDF via a link on the 'Schedule' page of the website.

Lab notebook: Student Lab Notebook – Life Sciences with spiral binding and 70 carbonless duplicate pages (ISBN 978-1-930882-35-5)

Lab manual:   You should print the lab manual and bring it to lab sessions. It is available to download as a pdf from the course website [link].

Textbook:      There is no required textbook. Everything that you are expected to learn will be covered in lectures and/or labs. However, a textbook can be a useful reference. We recommend either of the following two books:

                        Essential Neuroscience 3rd edition, by A. Siegel & H.N. Sapru (ISBN 978-1-4511-8968-1) [This book closely follows the course sequence. It has much more information than you will need to learn, particularly the last third of each chapter. The figures are very good. The text is very dry reading. One wonders if the authors even like the subject.]

                        Essentials of the Human Brain, by J. Nolte (ISBN 978-0-323-04570-4) [This book is much more concise. The figures are clear. The text has some gaps in the information.]

Resources:   The 'Schedule' page on the website has links to resources to accompany most lectures. Resource pages typically include a list of the page numbers in the recommended textbooks that relate to a lecture, links to short lectures on the web that can serve as an introduction to the main course lectures, and links to worksheets to help you study the material..

Laboratories: The course requires a two hour laboratory session most weeks. During the first half of the semester, students will examine the gross, macro and microscopic anatomy of the nervous system. The latter half of the semester will focus on functional systems. Students will look at how different systems interact to accomplish complex responses to our environment.

                        The first 10 laboratory sessions are required. Attendance is worth 1 point per lab with a total of 10 points for the semester. The 11th lab session, which will involve examining human cadavers, is optional.

                       Students are expected to prepare written reports on the assigned laboratory exercises. The format for each report will be specified in class. Reports are to be written in the lab notebook, which has carbonless copy pages. The original pages from the notebook for each session will be turned in for grading, typically at the following lab session. Students may not turn in a lab report unless they attended the laboratory session. Each lab report is worth up to 4 points with a total of 40 points for the semester.

Lab etiquette: Out of respect for the individuals and their families who donated their bodies at death for our use, no photography of human tissue is allowed in the laboratories.

Laboratory safety: The laboratories will require the use of preserved tissue. Although the methods used to preserve the tissue inactivate most pathogens, a very small risk remains. To further protect students from pathogens and chemical hazards, students will be required to wear gloves during the lab sessions in which tissue is to be handled. More details will be provided in class.

                        Food or drink are not allowed in the laboratories.

                       Students who may be pregnant or are nursing should contact the laboratory instructor for further safety procedures.

Office hours: Faculty will be available before and after each laboratory session in MCB 3-146B to answer questions.

                        Dr. McLoon will have a ‘coffee hour’ most weeks. The day, time and place for the coffee hour will vary from week to week. Details for the coffee hour will be announced in class and posted on the course website.

                        Faculty will be happy to meet with students at other times. It is best to set up an appointment with individual faculty by email.

Review sessions: Faculty will present a review of the previous week’s lectures most weeks on Tuesday, 4:00-5:00pm, in MCB 3-146B. Check the website for a schedule of the review sessions.

Examinations: Three midterm exams worth 40 points each will be given during the course as listed on the course schedule. A final exam worth 80 points will be given during finals week at a day and time specified by the University. All exams will be multiple choice. The final exam will be cumulative, with a greater emphasis on the lectures since the last midterm exam. Exams will cover the laboratory material as well as the lectures.

                        Note that an additional hour past the usual class time is available on exam days for those who need extra time.

Students are expected to complete the following during this course:

1.   Attend all lectures.

2.   Pass three midterm examinations and a final examination.

3.   Attend and participate in all laboratory sessions.

4.  Submit quality laboratory reports for each of the required lab sessions.

Grades:       Grades, A-F, will be based on students’ performance on each of the four examinations and on the laboratory. Grades will be curved with the median grade centered on ‘B’.

Absences:    The University’s policy on absences will be followed. See the U's webpage for details. [link]

                       A missed exam with a valid and verified excuse can be made up by taking a written and oral exam with an instructor within one week of the regularly scheduled exam. Unless you can prove that you were admitted to the hospital, you are allowed no more than one make-up exam during the course. Contact Professor McLoon as soon as possible to schedule a make-up.

                      A missed laboratory session with a valid and verified excuse can be made up. Please contact your laboratory professor as soon as possible to schedule a make-up. Please let your professor know if you are available to attend another lab session during the week that you missed your regular session.

                       If you can anticipate that you will miss an exam or lab session, please discuss this with an appropiate instructor as far in advance as possible.

Copyrights:    All course material including the audio of lectures, lecture slides, lecture notes, exams and handouts are the sole property of the course instructors and may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without the specific written permission of the relevant instructor with the exception of sharing course information among current classmates for the duration of the course.

Cheating:     Students are expected to complete all exams independently without assistance from others or the use of any reference material. Students are not allowed to look at an exam of another student during the exam time. Students are not allowed to be in possession of any electronic device during an exam. Violation of these rules constitutes cheating and will not be tolerated. Cheating will result in an F grade for the course.

Cell phones: Turn off all cell phones during class. If you forget and your phone rings during a class, then silence the ring immediately. Do not answer a voice call or send a text message during class.

Mental Health and Stress Management: As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student's ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via www.mentalhealth.umn.edu.

How to succeed in this course: Learning neuroanatomy is much like learning a new language. This requires daily study, typically one to two hours a day… everyday… for most students. Previous students found the following approach successful. Prepare for each lecture by reading a textbook chapter related to the lecture prior to the lecture. As you are reading, you might want to write down key words. With this background, you can learn more during the lecture. You may find it useful to download or print the PowerPoint of each lecture prior to the lecture. Then during the lecture, take notes on each slide. After a lecture and preferably that day when it is fresh in your mind, review the lecture. The textbook can be used as needed to clarify points. Finally, regularly review previous lectures.

                       There are numerous resources to help you during the course. You should feel free to take questions to your lab instructors or to Dr. McLoon before or after lecture or at his coffee hours. You should feel free to email questions to any of the faculty or to request an office appointment. Faculty will hold a review session most weeks, which will highlight the most important material.

                       Previous students found study groups that met regularly to review the course material were extremely helpful.