Last update: Mgr. Katarína Prikrylová (04.12.2023)
This course is the first part of a two-course series. Its aim is to provide you with an introduction to the brain, how it works, and what its neural and neurochemical mechanisms are that underlie behavior. The emphasis on mechanisms, structures, and concepts is designed to prepare you for the next course in the series, called “Brain and Behavior” (offered in the Summer semester) that makes use of the concepts learned in this course and applies them to complex motivated behaviors. It is also necessary for any other neuroscience-related courses, like Psychofyziologie a neuropsychologie (by Lenka Martinec Nováková), and courses that may be offered in the future, such as Hormones and Behavior, Drugs and Behavior, etc. Although the highly interdisciplinary material is drawn primarily from the subdisciplines of neuroscience, including neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, and neuroendocrinology, our ultimate interest is in behavior. How do we understand behavior on the basis of its biological mechanisms?
The course is divided into three units with an equally-weighted examination at the end of each. In the first unit, we will examine the gross structure and function of the nervous system and neuron, with an emphasis on the mechanisms by which nerves send information over long distances. The second unit examines the electrochemical connections between nerve cells and the way that those connections convey information from one cell to another and across networks of nerve cells. You will be exposed to concepts developed in molecular biology, and the way that neurobiologists have applied those concepts to the neuron. The third unit will focus on neurochemical pathways in the brain, neuroendocrinology, and the organization of the autonomic nervous system. This section will conclude by exploring the way in which sensory information is transmitted in the brain using the chemical senses of taste and smell as examples.
Students who know psychology solely as a social science will likely find the early part of this course challenging. This is to be expected in any course in which the terminology and concepts are entirely new. But by learning this “alien” terminology of neurobiology and building up your understanding of new concepts in a step-by-step manner, you will come to view psychology from a different, more biological perspective, and you will have acquired an overview of neuroscience in the process.
There is no required textbook. The lectures will provide you with all the necessary material. However, if you would like a book, I can recommend the introductory neuroscience textbook by Bear, M.F., Conors, B.W., and Paradiso, M.A. (2015). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain (4th Ed), Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore. I include the corresponding chapters to each lecture in the syllabus (called “BCP”; see below). It is very important that you do not fall behind in the lectures because cramming before the exams will tend to drive you crazy and really won't help you understand the information. I will do my best to help you understand what you have read and will be available for office hours by appointment. I encourage questions from the class during lectures. I tend to lecture quickly because there is quite a lot to cover. I would strongly suggest that you pair up with one or two other students and form a study group to go over the information.
Syllabus - Czech
Last update: James Pfaus, Ph.D. (13.09.2023)
The course has three equally-weighted units. The first unit is on neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, and the second is on synaptic connections made by neurons, membrane activation and inhibition, and genomic regulation. The third is on neurochemistry, neruoendocrinology, and chemical senses. A test will follow each of the units, composed of multiple choice, true-false, and short answer questions. The course syllabus and Powerpoint lecaures are available on the course moodle site. The lectures are structured to give you an overview of the material covered and should serve as a space for discussion. During the lectures, previous knowledge acquired by reading and trying to understand the compulsory literature is assumed.