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Unit of study_

NEUR3906: Neural Information Processing (Advanced)

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 build a bioamplifier from basic electronic components and then use it to record neuronal and muscle activity. Students acquire skills in grant writing and develop their critical thinking and knowledge about experimental design by writing their own research proposal. This Senior year unit of study will develop skills in critical analysis, interpretation and communication of recent scientific evidence.

Code NEUR3906
Academic unit Department of Medical Sciences
Credit points 6
72cp 1000 to 3000 level units and an annual average mark of 70 or above in the previous year
NEUR3001 or NEUR3901 or NEUR3002 or NEUR3902 or NEUR3006
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. prepare and present a talk using visual aids that clearly explains the rationale, methodology, results and conclusions of the practical classes
  • LO9. 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
  • LO10. read journal research articles on a specific topic, write a short research project for a grant proposal - the project should test a hypothesis, describe the methods to be used and experimental design and the expected outcomes
  • LO11. design experiments to test specific hypotheses
  • LO12. acquaint with modern research techniques in neurosciences
  • LO13. employ computer modeling to investigate factors that influence nerve excitability and explain your modeling experiments in a structured written report
  • 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.