Course Identification

Introduction to Neuroscience: Systems Neuroscience

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Prof. Nachum Ulanovsky, Prof. Rony Paz, Prof. Michal Rivlin, Prof. Rafael Malach, Prof. Noam Sobel, Prof. Ilan Lampl, Prof. Ehud Ahissar, Prof. Shabtai Barash, Prof. Yadin Dudai, Dr. Eyal Cohen

Course Schedule and Location

First Semester
Monday, 09:15 - 12:00, Wolfson Auditorium

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Life Sciences: Lecture; Elective; 2.50 points
Life Sciences (Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Track): Lecture; Elective; Core; 2.50 points
Life Sciences (Brain Sciences: Systems, Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Track): Lecture; Elective; Core; 2.50 points
Life Sciences (Computational and Systems Biology Track): Lecture; Elective; 2.50 points


* The first lecture will take place on THURSDAY, 8/11, instead of Monday (as a one time change), 13:15-16:00, at: Botnar Auditorium.
* On 19/11, the lecture will be held at: FGS room A
* the last lecture will take place on Thursday, 7/2/2019, 13:15- 15:45 at: Botnar Auditorium
* A make-up lecture will be held on Thursday, January 3rd, 13:15-16:00 in REICH room, Benoziyo Brain Research Building (former Yaglom), Basement - Cohen Entrance.

*Obligatory for Neuroscience MSc students.
*One of the 4 core courses in Brain Sciences.
Most lectures will be accompanied by 1-2 short textbook chapters that will be posted on the course website; they will be posted in advance, before each lecture. These book chapters are not mandatory for the exam. we will NOT test about them in the exam. However, we WILL expect students to read the posted book chapters before each lesson, so they could better follow the lesson: This expectation is true both for students who did learn some neuroscience in the past (but may have forgotten some very basic material), but we especially expect this home-reading from those students who have no previous background in neuroscience.





Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Required in at least 80% of the lectures

Grade Type

Numerical (out of 100)

Grade Breakdown (in %)


Evaluation Type


Scheduled date 1

Wolfson Auditorium

Scheduled date 2


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



The brain underlies our ability to perceive, move, remember, think. This course will introduce students to the major systems of the brain, which underlie these abilities, focusing on sensory, motor and memory systems. The course will start with classical "textbook" concepts and methods in the field of Systems Neuroscience, but will then emphasize contemporary approaches, concepts and debates.

REMARK: As is the case for most of the Brain Sciences courses at Weizmann, the students in this course come from heterogeneous backgrounds, including biology, physics, computer science, psychology, and engineering. Some of the course material may be familiar to students who took neuroscience courses during their undergraduate studies ; but the more advanced material in this course will be well beyond the scope of typical undergraduate courses. We will provide book chapters as background reading, these chapters will serve as a refresher reading for those students that did learn some neuroscience in the past, and will be a must-read for those students who have no background at all in neuroscience (see more below). No special mathematical knowledge is required for this course.

Syllabus (week by week):

Overview of brain systems and general principles of their functional organization: From cortical maps and subcortical loops to the micro-structure of brain circuits and their interconnections. Brief introduction to Methodologies used to study brain systems (Ulanovsky)
Moving: Movement generation – Peripheral and central processes. (Paz)
Seeing: Peripheral visual processes. (Rivlin)
Seeing: Central visual processes. (Malach)
Smelling and tasting: Peripheral and central processes. (Sobel)
Hearing (and balance): Peripheral and central processes. (Ulanovsky)
Mechanisms of stimulus feature selectivity in sensory systems. (Lampl)
Touching: Peripheral and central processes. (Ahissar)
Active sensing: Closing motor-sensory loops. (Ahissar)
Looking and seeing: mind-body interactions between periphery, brainstem and cortex. (Barash)
Remembering: Overview of memory systems. (Dudai)
Learning: Basal ganglia. (Rivlin)
Learning: The cerebellum in motor learning and cognition. (Eyal Cohen)
Integrating: The hippocampus in spatial navigation and memory consolidation. (Ulanovsky)

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students should be be able to:

  1. Describe different brain systems, starting with basic historical findings and concepts, and ending with advanced-level current results and theories.
  2. Demonstrate sufficient knowledge required to take more advanced courses in systems neuroscience.

Reading List

Reading list will be posted on the course website.