BIO 123: Learning and Memory

Fall, 2005


Instructor: Kathleen K. Siwicki                    


                        Seminar meetings:                          Lab meetings:

                        Wednesday. 1:15 - 4:15 p.m.           Monday 1:15 – 4:15 p.m.

                        Martin 219                                         Martin 219 or Neurobiology Lab


Biology 123 is a 2-credit seminar on the neurobiology of learning and memory. The goals of this seminar are:

1. to acquire a broad perspective of the variety of neural systems and cellular processes involved in learning and memory, and to study some of these systems and process in depth, focusing on recent research advances.

2. to sharpen critical thinking and scientific communication skills by speaking and writing about the neurobiology of learning and memory, and by reviewing each othersÕ papers and seminar presentations.

3. to plan, execute, and present the results of a focused laboratory research project addressing some biological aspect of learning and memory.


During the first 3-4 weeks of the semester,

1. We will acquire an overview of current thinking and research questions related to the neurobiology of learning and memory, by reading and discussing textbook chapters and review articles;

2. We will identify topics to be considered in depth for the rest of the semester, and seminar presenters for each topic;

3. Students develop and write research proposals and form project teams for laboratory projects.


For the rest of the semester,

1. Each Wednesday will be devoted to two related seminar presentations, approximately 1 hour each for presentation and discussion.

2. Before the end of each Wednesday meeting, the students who are responsible for the following weekÕs seminar will distribute their reading lists and provide a 10-minute preview of their topic(s). The goal of the previews will be to provide basic background information and explain the significance of the papers which weÕll read for the following week.

3. Teams will work in the laboratory (plan on at least 10 hours/week), striving to meet the goals of their research proposals. Each team will meet with Kathy every Monday afternoon to report on results & discuss strategies.


Grades. Students will receive 2 grades for this 2-credit seminar: one each for seminar and lab.

The seminar grade will be based on

-    your weekly seminar papers and involvement in seminar discussions, and

-     your work associated with your own presentations: selecting papers, and coordinating a focused discussion of these papers during your seminars.

The lab grade will be based on

 -  your written research proposal due September 26 (individual efforts),

    -effective planning and execution of the experiments all semester (research team),

     -final poster presentations December 12 (research team), and

   -  a formal final paper on the project due December 16 (research team).


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