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Unit of study_

NEUR3006: Neural Information Processing

This unit provides an introduction to the mechanisms that drive neurons and neural circuits throughout the brain and body. The lectures explore how environmental and neuronal signals are translated into and encoded in nerve impulses and how this information is conveyed through synapses to transmit information about the external world to control the body as well as different behaviours and to store information for future use (learning and memory). The mechanisms by which sensory and motor information are integrated through neural circuits in the brain and spinal cord are also explored in detail. Practical classes provide an accessible and engaging experience to delve into the inner workings of neurons and sensory systems. Students participate in journal clubs that focus on a specific topic in neuroscience. In this weekly sessions, students read, present and interpret original research papers, developing critical thinking skills as well as a deep understanding of the emerging scientific evidence in the topic area. This senior year unit of study will develop skills in critical analysis, interpretation and communication of recent scientific evidence.

Code NEUR3006
Academic unit Department of Medical Sciences
Credit points 6
72cp 1000 to 3000 level units
NEUR3001 or NEUR3901 or NEUR3002 or NEUR3902 or NEUR3906
Assumed knowledge:
(PHSI2X05 or PHSI2X07 or MEDS2001) or BMED2402

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain the function of excitatory and inhibitory synapses and their influence upon the action potential firing patterns of a somatic motor neuron
  • LO2. discuss neuronal circuits associated with the stretch reflex and the gamma motor neurons that help regulate the movement of a limb around a joint
  • LO3. explain ways in which understanding of neuromuscular control circuits help us understand human strength and mobility in health and disease
  • LO4. describe multiple modes of sensory transduction and the neural encoding associated with these diverse forms
  • LO5. discuss the processing of visual information in the brain and how this processing may help to extract meaning from the visual world
  • LO6. discuss the processes of auditory perception that underlie interpretation of the auditory world
  • LO7. discuss mechanisms of sensori-motor integration in the brain and spinal cord
  • LO8. read a journal research article, prepare a written summary outlining its experimental methods and results then critically assess the extent to which the evidence supports the conclusions
  • LO9. prepare and present a 30 minute 'journal club' style scientific presentation that clearly explains a published research study (the background, the underlying scientific hypothesis, the key evidence presented and how and in what ways it supports the authors' conclusions) and respond to scientific questions in a field in which you have begun to develop some expertise
  • LO10. provide an example of how a commonly used scientific method (or methods) can be applied to test a specific scientific hypothesis and explain the logic
  • LO11. listen to your colleagues and take notes during a scientific/technical presentation, ask relevant questions that help engage others in the discussion and thereby deepen and reinforce your understanding of the topic
  • LO12. integrate what you have learnt from reading, summarizing and discussing several original research papers to create a 1,500 word scholarly scientific report that addresses an explicitly defined hypothesis or task
  • LO13. have developed a practical understanding of the influences of ion channel gating, chemical and electrical driving forces in nerve excitability and be able to investigate factors that influence this complex, non-linear phenomenon and the implications for how information is processed in the brain
  • LO14. explain some methods by which visual, auditory and sensorimotor function can be studied in humans.

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 1 week before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.