This course will introduce students to Behavioral Neuroscience. We will start by providing an in-depth introduction to behavior, and will then elaborate on two different approaches that are common in the field: One approach ("neuropsychological") is to study animals in artificial well-controlled tasks, while the other approach ("neuroethological") focuses on the animal's natural behaviors. We will introduce general aspects, and will contrast and compare these two approaches by focusing on several well-studied, classic example systems.
Part A: Introduction to Brain and Behavior (Kimchi)
- Introduction to Behavior.
- Neurobiology of social behaviors. (Guest lecture by: Dr. Saikat Ray, Weizmann Institute)
- Neuronal and hormonal mechanisms underlying sexual dimorphism in social and reproductive behaviors.
Part B: Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuroethological approach (Ulanovsky)
- Sensory ecology: evolutionary adaptations of animal sensory systems to their environment.
- Example system #1: Echolocation in bats: Sensory ecology, echolocation behavior, principles of biosonar signal design, neural processing.
- Example system #2: Multisensory integration in the brain of the barn owl. (Guest lecture by: Prof. Yoram Gutfreund, Technion)
- Example system #3: The bird song system I: behavior, neuroanatomy, physiology, models. (Guest lecture by: Dr. Liora Las, Weizmann Institute)
- Example system #3: The bird song system II: complex songs, neurogenesis. (Guest lecture by: Dr. Yarden Cohen, Weizmann Institute)
- Example system #4: Neurobiology of spatial cognition I. Introduction to spatial memory and navigation: (i) Navigational strategies in different animals. (ii) Sensory mechanisms of navigation: vision, magnetic navigation, etc.
- Example system #4: Neurobiology of spatial cognition II. Navigation circuits in the mammalian brain: Place cells, grid cells, head-direction cells, etc.
- Summary of the neuroethological approach. Choosing the right behavior and the right animal model. Natural Neuroscience. Comparative Neuroscience.
Part C: Neural mechanisms of Behavior – the Neuropsychological approach (Paz)
- Introduction: Basic concepts, standard behavioral tasks. Example system #5: Fear learning and its neural circuits.
- Examples system #6: Reward-based learning and its neural basis.
- Example system #7: Decision-making in the brain.
- Visual psychophysics, Visual perception. (Guest lecture by: Prof. Dubi Sagi, Weizmann Institute).