Neurobiology Laboratory I
NSci 4105 is an integral part of the core curriculum in neuroscience. The course brings concepts from lecture courses to life through an intensive, experimental investigation of functional neuroanatomy. Groups of 3 students make precise injections of fluorescent tracer dyes into rat brain. The dyes are transported along pathways within the brain and the groups spend the the semester discovering and analyzing the pathways involved. Students learn to keep an experimental laboratory notebook, to organize and coordinate a group experiment, to collect and organize scientific data, and to construct a sound scientific presentation. Much guidance is provided but there are few rigid protocols. The class depends heavily on individual initiative and teamwork. Students are judged, in part, on the quality of presentations given before an audience. To do well, students must place experimental results in an appropriate functional context and answer questions about the data and its functional significance. Successful students typically spend significant time, outside of normal class hours, both collecting data and preparing presentations. (Previous students have suggested that scheduling a course immediately after this one may not be a good idea.) Students typically leave this course with a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. They also leave with a valuable set of technical and career skills. Many students find that the opportunities to interact closely with course faculty are invaluable and lasting bonds are often formed between class members.