BCSC 245: Sensory & Motor Neuroscience

Cross-listed: CVSC/NSCI 245
Prerequisites: NSCI 201, Basic Neurobiology; or equivalent background with instructor's permission
Offered: Fall

All of our experience of the world around us is based on the streams of electrical signals conveyed from our sensory receptors to the brain, and our decisions to act are based on interpretation of these neural signals. This course focuses on how single neurons and populations of neurons represent sensory information, how sensory signals are transformed and decoded to mediate perception, and how perceptual signals are converted into neural commands to initiate actions. Although the main focus of the course is on the neurobiology of sensory processing and sensory-motor transformations, a goal of the course will be for students to understand how simple behaviors (such as detection and discrimination) can be quantified and explained in terms of neural activity. After covering the basic structure and function of the relevant sensory and motor systems, the course will turn to quantitative approaches for linking neural activity to perception and decision-making. The course will draw heavily upon examples from the visual, oculomotor, and somatosensory systems, with some attention to the auditory and vestibular systems as well.