Course Review: Basic Neurobiology/Neuroscience at NCBS Bangalore

Basic Neurobiology course offered at NCBS Bangalore consists of 4 modules of around 6 lectures each, plus a couple of labs on electrical models of cells. Each lecture is around 90 minutes. Usually there are three lectures a week but sometimes two lectures and a tutorial or lab-session is also organized. The TA support is rather limited in this course and quality depends mainly on the motivation of TA.

Module 1 is taken by Upinder Bhalla. It is mainly about cellular biophysics, and computation. Major topics covered were: neurons as electrical entities, passive properties and cable theory, active properties and Hodgkin-Huxley equations. And tutorial sessions have Hodgin-Huxley experiments conducted in-silico using MOOSE simulator; and a electrical-circuit based demonstration of cable-theory/passive properties. This module consists of many assignment and quizzes :-).

Module 2 is taken by Shona Chatterjee. It mainly about synaptic transmission in invertebrate and vertebrate nervous systems; snaptic plasticity in the mammalian brain; and basic concepts in neuroanatomy. The lab session has demonstration of Golgi-staining or mouse-brain. There is usually one quiz and no assignments. Quiz may have any sort of tangentially related questions: such as root-word of “Syanpse” in Latin, and name of X who discovered Y.

Module 3 belongs to Vatsala Thirumalai. She taught small circuits. CPG were central to her lectures. The effects of neuromodulators on rhythmic activities of these small circuits were discussed. This module have assignments.
Sanjay Sane took module 4. It was about comparative neurobiology and ethology. He discussed nervous system — their forms and functions — across animal kingdom.  Sensing and neuronal circuitry involved in sensing was one of the core themes. This module have some assigned reading and paper presentation: no pop-quizzes or assignments though he believes in taking written exams.

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Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

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