The primary aim of the course is to open a window on the current frontiers in neuroscience research aiming to understand how concerted interaction of millions of neurons give rise to behavior in animals and humans alike. During the course we will focus on the brain region called the hippocampus which is primarily involved in navigation and memory.
The course will start by introducing students to the cellular basis of neuronal excitability (action potentials) and feature selectivity. We will use the example of place cells (neurons in the hippocampus encoding spatial location) to illustrate the role of plasticity in learning to be active selectively at certain locations, an essential process in creating new memories. Next we will investigate the functional neuroanatomy of the hippocampus, emphasising the role different types of neuronal networks in the process of memory storage and recall. Finally, we will discuss the relationship between navigation and memory and see examples of how the place cells and grid cells are involved in route planning and path integration.