How the Brain Works

Number of credits: 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) Price: 840 €
Price for UAB students*: 200 €
*Max. 5 places
Teaching Language: English Place: UAB Campus Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès)

Teaching Period:  22 June to 10 July

Contact: summer@uab.cat

Professor: Elena Martín and Raúl Andero

Enrol now!

Enrolment guidelines


PROFESSOR BIO INFORMATION

Elena Martin García is a senior researcher at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona since 2012. She also works as an associate professor of behavioral genetics in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona since 2011. Her postdoctoral work was carried out at the INSERM in Bordeaux, France. Her research interests are focused on the study of the neurobiological basis of addiction and related disorders, including obesity. She has over 40 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals related to Neuroscience.   


Raul Andero Galí holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2010) and completed his postdoctoral work at Emory University (Atlanta, GA). He joined McLean Hospital - Harvard Medical School, as Instructor in Psychiatry (Faculty) on June 2015. On March 2016, he joined the Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona as a Ramón y Cajal Researcher, where he is now working as a Principal Investigator and Group Leader. His lab studies how stress changes memory networks in the brain. 


ACADEMIC GUIDE

Contents overview


Neuroscience is an incredibly rich discipline that covers a variety of topics related to health, society, and education. One of its branches focuses on the study of the biological substrates of behavior and the underlying mental processes. To understand behavior, and the mind, it is necessary to know how the components of the nervous system are organized and how their interactions result in normal function.

The present 3rd edition of this course will provide students with the necessary knowledge to understand how the brain works in health and disease. Moreover, different drugs and their effects upon brain function will be reviewed. Neurophyisiological and neurochemical approaches will be used to understand the relationships between different behavioral processes and their biological substrates. At the end of this course students will gain valuable knowledge in Neuroscience helpful for their daily lives.

How the Brain Works” is composed of theory classes, hands-on practical classes and a visit to Barcelona’s Science Museum – CosmoCaixa. Theory classes will be taught by world-class neuroscientists who will address the most important concepts about Neuroscience. On the hands-on practical classes you will perform a scientific experiment by staining neurons with fluorescent molecules to visualize them later in the microscope!

Also, your teachers will guide you through the Neuroscience section in the free visit to Barcelona’s Science Museum, and they will also be available throughout the course to mentor those students interested in receiving advices about their careers in Neuroscience or in any other field. In brief, we want to create a community of bright students that interact with each other and experience scientific teamwork by working on a final project.

Week programme
Week Contents Teaching / learning activities
1 1. What is Neuroscience? (Class 1).  

2. The cells of the nervous system (Class 2).

3. Synaptic transmission (Class 3).
 
Monday to Wednesday (Classes 1-3)
 
  • 9.00-11.00: Theory class.
  • 11.00-11.30 Break.
  • 11.30-13.00: Practical class.

1. Learning through scientific papers.
2. Class discussions.
3. Experimental exercises.
4. Technical notes and readings.
5. Questionnaires.
6. Teamwork.
7. Documentaries.
8. Working on the final course presentation.
 

Thursday. Hands-on practical class (Class 4)

Perform your own experiment by staining neurons with fluorescent molecules.
 

Friday (Class 5)
  •  9.00-10.00: Evidence of learning 1: Short questions exam.
  • 10.00-11:30: A film related to Neuroscience.
  • 11.30-12.00: Break.
  • 12.00-13.00: Discussion and exercises based on the film.
2 4. Macroscopic anatomy of the central and peripheric nervous system (Class 6).

5. Neurotransmitters (Classes 7-8).
    
Monday to Wednesday (Classes 6-8)
  • 9.00-11.00: Theory class.
  • 11.00-11.30 Break.
  • 11.30-13.00: Practical class.

1. Learning through scientific papers.
2. Class discussions.
3. Experimental exercises.
4. Technical notes and readings.
5. Questionnaires.
6. Teamwork.
7. Documentaries.
8. Working on the final course presentation.
 

Thursday. Practical class (Class 9)

Guided visit to Barcelona’s Science Museum – CosmoCaixa (Free entrance for students). 
 

Friday (class 10)
  • 9.00-10.00: Evidence of learning 2: Multiple choice questions exam.
  • 10.00-11:30: Film related to Neuroscience.
  • 11.30-12.00: Break.
  • 12.00-13.00: Discussion and exercises based on the film.
3 5. Neurotransmitters (Classes 11-13).
Monday to Wednesday (classes 11-13)
  • 9.00-11.00: Theory class.
  • 11.00-11.30 Break.
  • 11.30-13.00: Practical class.

1. Learning through scientific papers.
2. Class discussions.
3. Experimental exercises.
4. Technical notes and readings.
5. Questionnaires.
6. Teamwork.
7. Documentaries.
8. Working on the final course presentation.

 

 

Thursday (Class 14)

9.00-13.00: Evidence of learning 3. Final course presentations.

Friday (class 15)

Closing day     
 


Evaluation

This course uses a continuous evaluation method by performing 3 learning evidences. These 3 exams will be written, and the final presentation will be oral. The contents evaluated in these tests will be cumulative, thus, each test will evaluate aspects of the subject already evaluated in previous tests. The final mark of the continuous evaluation of the subject will be obtained from the weighted average score of the evaluated activities.

The relative weight of each of the learning evidences or exams is specified below:

a) Evidence of learning 1: 30% (Short questions exam: open questions about psychobiology and the nervous system cells. Unit 1 and 2, class 1 to 4).

b) Evidence of learning 2: 30% (Multiple choice questions exam: questions about basic neuroscience knowledge, evaluation of all the contents of Unit 1, 2, 3, 4 and part of 5, class 1 to 9).

c) Evidence of learning 3: 40% (Oral group presentation: final oral presentation of a project prepared throughout the course. Unit 5). Characteristics of the Final course project: ·
- Groups of 3 to 5 students.
- Presentation (15’).
- Each group must select, investigate and present a specific mental disorder focusing on the main alterations observed in neurotransmitter or neuromodulator systems. Disorders must be selected from the following DSM-5 list (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, fifth edition):  

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar and Related Disorders.
  • Depressive Disorders.
  • Anxiety Disorders.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders.
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders.
  • Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.
  • Other disorders.


The grades will span from 0 to 10. To pass the course it is necessary to obtain more than 5 points. There is no possibility to re-evaluate.

Class attendance must be at least 80%. 


Links and references
 
  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, DSM-5. (5th ed.). Washington, DC:
  • Carlson NR. (2013) Physiology of Behavior, 11th Edition. Pearson.
  • Martín-García E; Robledo P; Gutiérrez-Cuesta J; Maldonado R. Substance Abuse and Dependence (Chapter 8). In vivo models for Drug Discovery. pp. 169 - 192. (Germany): Wiley, 2014. ISBN 9783527333288.
  • Stahl, S. M. Stahl's essential psychopharmacology: neuroscientific basis and practical applications. - 3rd ed. Cambridge University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-521-67376-1.
  • Andero R, Choi DC, Ressler KJ. BDNF-TrkB receptor regulation of distributed adult neural plasticity, memory formation, and psychiatric disorders. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2014;122:169-92.