Year 4 Course Descriptions

Honors in Neuroscience students may choose from two research streams during their fourth year of study. Research Stream A (Independent Study and Laboratory Research) allows for *6 or *9 credits of independent study and research in one or more labs in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. This stream provides flexibility and allows for exposure to multiple research areas. Research Stream B (Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Neuroscience) involves *12 in independent study and research to be performed in the lab of a single faculty member in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, with the development of an undergraduate honors research thesis. This option is therefore a more intensive research experience allowing for more time and independent study in a neuroscience lab, and will culminate with a written research thesis and oral thesis defense.

Research Stream A (Independent Study and Laboratory Research):


Research Stream B (Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Neuroscience):


NEURO 410 - Neurobiology of Aging and Neurodegenerative Disorders 
*3  (fi 6)  (second term,3-0-0) 

Designed to provide senior undergraduate students in the Neuroscience program a comprehensive overview of the neurobiology of normal aging and neurodegenerative disorders. Both clinical and basic science aspects of major neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington disease, Prion disease and Motor neuron disease (ALS) will be covered. Video presentations of patients with neurodegenerative disorders will be presented to add clinical and psychological dimensions. Additionally, recent papers reporting new developments in each of the above disorders will be discussed. Invited lectures will be given by national/international experts on aspects of neurodegenerative disorders to amplify topics covered in the course. Students can receive credit for either NEURO 410 or 510 but not both.

Prerequisites: PMCOL 371. 


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NEURO 443 - Neuroendocrine Concepts
*3 (fi 6) (first term,3-0-0)

Regulation within the neuroendocrine system. Conceptual consideration of the diffuse neuroendocrine system, hypothalamopituitary interactions, neural integration, signal inactivation, feedback control, differential regulation, neurosteroids and hormones and behaviour.

Prerequisite: PHYSL 210 or equivalent, or PHYSL 372 or consent of Instructor.


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NEURO 450 – Readings on Selected Topics in Neuroscience 

*3  (fi 6)  (either term,3-0-0) 

An individual study course involving detailed reading on a selected topic in cellular, molecular, systems, or cognitive neuroscience. Students will select a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute who will guide them through a course of reading on a specialized topic at an advanced level. Completion of this course requires an oral presentation to an examining committee. Restricted to students in the Honours program in Neuroscience. Registration must be approved by the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

Prerequisites: PMCOL 371, PHYSL 372.

To register in this course, students must first find and secure a supervisor from the list of potential supervisors. Then complete the Registration and Proposal Form, have the supervisor sign it, and bring it to the NMHI office by the end of the first week of the term, otherwise it will not be processed.

NEURO 450 Course Guidelines


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NEURO 451 – Honours Research Project in Neuroscience 
*3  (fi 6)  (first term,0-0-3) 

Research project involving laboratory experimentation done under the supervision of a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. Laboratory projects may involve current topics and methodologies encountered in specific areas of cellular, molecular, systems, or cognitive neuroscience. Completion of this course requires a written report of the project and an oral presentation to an examining committee. Restricted to students in the Honors program in Neuroscience. Registration must be approved by the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

Prerequisites: PMCOL 371, PHYSL 372.

To register in this course, students must first find and secure a supervisor from the list of potential supervisors then complete the Registration and Proposal Form, have the supervisor sign it, and bring it to the NMHI office by the end of the first week of the term, otherwise it will not be processed.

NEURO 451 Course Guidelines


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NEURO 452 – Honours Research Project in Neuroscience 
*3  (fi 6)  (second term,0-0-3) 

Research project involving laboratory experimentation done under the supervision of a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. Laboratory projects may involve current topics and methodologies encountered in specific areas of cellular, molecular, systems, or cognitive neuroscience. Completion of this course requires a written report of the project and an oral presentation to an examining committee at the end of the course. Restricted to students in the Honours program in Neuroscience. Registration must be approved by the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

Prerequisites: PMCOL 371, PHYSL 372.

To register in this course, students must first find and secure a supervisor from the list of potential supervisors. Then complete the Registration and Proposal Form, have the supervisor sign it, and bring it to the NMHI office by the end of the first week of the term, otherwise it will not be processed.

NEURO 452 Course Guidelines


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NEURO 472 – Autonomic Nervous System
*3 (fi 6) (second term,3-0-0)

Lectures presented by members of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute on neurophysiological, anatomical, clinical, pharmacological and cellular aspects of the autonomic nervous system. Topics include neural regulation of homeostasis and reproduction, disorders of autonomic function, sympathetically maintained pain, effects of spinal cord injury and current research issues.

Prerequisites: PHYSL 210 or 212/214 or ZOOL 241 or equivalent and PMCOL 202 or 371 or ZOOL 342 or PHYSL 372.

Registration requires consent of instructor. Please contact Dr. Peter Smith: peter.a.smith@ualberta.ca with a copy of current transcripts.


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NEURO 496 – Computational Neuroscience
*3 (fi 6) (second term,3-0-0)

An interdisciplinary course designed to introduce students in biological science programs (Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology and Psychology) to computational neuroscience, and students in computer science programs to the broad field of neuroscience. Biological science students will learn the basic methods of computer programming, while computer science students will learn the fundamentals of neuroscience. All students will learn how computer simulations can be used to further our understanding of neurons, neuronal networks, processing of sensory information, and control of movements. The lectures are complemented by laboratory exercises that will allow students to develop programming skills and to construct computer simulations of neurophysiological processes.

Prerequisites: PMCOL 371 or PHYSL 372 or CMPUT 340 or permission of instructor.


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NEURO 498 – Honours Research Project in Neuroscience I
*6 (first term,0-0-6)

Individual study and research.

Honors research thesis completed under the supervision of a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. Taken in conjunction with NEURO 499, this 6-credit course is the first part of a 12-credit program in two terms resulting in an honours research thesis in neuroscience. Students spend the term in the laboratory of a faculty member from the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute to carry out a research project related to current topics and methodologies in the supervisor’s area of expertise in cellular, molecular, systems, or cognitive neuroscience. During NEURO 498 (Neuroscience I), students will develop background knowledge in an area of neuroscience research, design an experimental plan (in conjunction with their supervisor) to investigate a particular research question, learn the methodologies to be used, and begin experiments to answer this research question. Completion of this course requires a written proposal summarizing background information and experimental design and methods for the project as well as an oral presentation to an examining committee. Restricted to students in the Honors program in Neuroscience. Registration must be approved by the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

Prerequisite: Consent of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

To register in this course, students must first find and secure a supervisor from the list of potential supervisors then complete the Course Registration and Project Title Form, have the supervisor sign it, and bring it to the NMHI office for registration. A hard copy of this form must be submitted to the NMHI office at 4-142 Katz Group Centre by the end of the first week of the term, otherwise registration will not be processed.

NEURO 498/99 Course Guidelines.


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NEURO 499 – Honours Research Project in Neuroscience II
*6 (second term,0-0-6)

Individual laboratory research. Part two of an honours research thesis completed under the supervision of a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. Taken in conjunction with NEURO 498 this 6-credit course is the second part of a 12-credit program in two terms resulting in an honours research thesis in neuroscience. Upon satisfactory progress in first-term NEURO 498, students will continue their research and produce a written honours thesis on their project. An oral presentation and thesis defense will occur at the end of term and be evaluated. Registration must be approved by the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

Prerequisite: Consent of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

To register in this course, students must first find and secure a supervisor from the list of potential supervisors then complete the Course Registration and Project Title Form, have the supervisor sign it, and bring it to the NMHI office for registration. A hard copy of this form must be submitted to the NMHI office at 4-142 Katz Group Centre by the end of the first week of the term, otherwise registration will not be processed.

NEURO 498/99 Course Guidelines.


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PHYSL 403 – Neuroendoimmunomodulation
*3 (fi 6) (first term,3-0-0)

The physiological and pathophysiological interrelationships between the nervous, endocrine and immune systems.

Prerequisites: PHYSL 212 and 214, or 210 and consent of Department.


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PHYSL 405 – Sensory Physiology
*3 (fi 6) (second term,3-0-0)

The sensory systems in human physiology. The topics covered will be vision, hearing, vestibular mechanisms, taste, smell and touch, including receptor mechanisms and central organization.

Prerequisites: PHYSL 212 and 214, or 210 and consent of Department.


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PHYSL 444 – Current Topics in Neuroscience
*3 (fi 6) (first term,3-0-0)

A lecture course emphasizing contemporary aspects of developmental, cellular, systems and cognitive neurophysiology. Topics will include experience-dependent processes in the development of the nervous system, the molecular and cellular mechanisms for learning and memory, and voluntary movement, the representation and transformation of information in the nervous system, and the neuronal events associated with conscious experience. Students will be expected to demonstrate a thorough understanding of selected readings from current and classical literature. Suitable for honors students in Physiology, Pharmacology, Psychology and Neuroscience.

Prerequisites: PMCOL 371 and PHYSL 372 and consent of Department.


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PMCOL 412 – Drugs and the Nervous System
*3 (fi 6) (first term,3-0-0)

No disease can be cured without knowledge of the underlying cause and molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis. The goal of PMCOL412 is to learn about the molecular basis of disorders of the nervous system, current therapies in use, as well as novel potential treatments that are in clinical trials or at the preclinical experimental stage. Research frontiers in pain and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis and HIV-related neurodegeneration, among others, will be explored. Novel therapeutic targets and the potential treatments of tomorrow will be discussed.

Prerequisite: PMCOL 343 and 344 or 371.


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PMCOL 512 – Pharmacology of the Synapse
*3 (fi 6) (either term, 3-0-0)

Current concepts of neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and trophic factors are discussed in the context of the normal, diseased and developing nervous systems. Students should have some biological background either in physiology, pharmacology, zoology, or the neurosciences.

Prerequisite: consent of department


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PSYCI 511 – Biological Aspects of Psychiatry
*3 (fi 6) (second term, 3-0-0)

Lectures and seminars on: classification, description and measurement of psychiatric disorders; sleep disorders; biochemical theories of psychiatric disorders, and discussions of how the actions of the drugs used to treat these disorders relate to these theories; practical aspects of drug treatment; biological markers; brain imaging; women’s health issues; herbal products and psychiatry.,/p>

Prerequisite: Permission of Department.


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PSYCO 471 – Neurophysiology: Theory, Methods, and Analysis
*3 (fi 6) (either term, 3-0-0)

A survey of theory, methods, and analysis of various neurophysiological techniques utilized in brain-behaviour research. The dynamics of in vivo recordings will be extensively covered.

Prerequisites: One of PSYCO 371, 375, 377 or PMCOL 371.


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PSYCO 475 – Biological Bases of Behavior
*3 (fi 6) (either term,3-0-0)

Basic neuroanatomy and neuropsychology of sensory and motor systems.

Prerequisite: PSYCO 371 or 377. Students who have obtained credit in NEURO 375 cannot take PSYCO 475 for credit.


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PSYCO 478 – Behavior and Brain Chemistry
*3 (fi 6) (either term,3-0-0)

The influence of environmental and genetic factors on the relationship between chemistry of the brain and the behavior of humans and animals.

Prerequisite: PSYCO 371 or 377.


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