Biol 422: Introduction to Neurophysiology started as a Biology 479: special topics in biology. It took me a bit to determine what I wanted the course to be. Eventually, I realized that this course can be a true capstone pulling from student expertise in animal behavior or cell biology or physiology. Since we have students coming from a variety of courses, they can work together to aid in each other's learning. This course has a little something for everyone and often adapts to make sure that each student interest is reflected.

The best part of it is the final projects which are of the student's design. They have been on topics such as: effects of marijuana on neural development, pharmaceutical interventions for PTSD, neural control of crypsis in cephalopods, lepidopteran visual adaptations, the effect of exercise on neural health in parkinson's patients, and ion channel mutations involved in seizure disorders. Students turn in a final paper and give a seminar on these topics. They are able to relate the material to something that truly interests them and the end result is something special.

Biol 422 course proposal v2.doc


Biol 479 Syllabus 2015.pdf

During this term the course was focused on sensory systems. This focus was far too narrow for the course.


During this semester the course was more focused on motor systems and used a commonly used textbook by Dale Purves. It also involved a semester-long term paper project.

Harley Biol 479 spring 2018 syllabus v2.pdf

This semester was intended as a more hands-on version of the previous one but our book never arrived so we had to change plans.

Instructor assessment

Biol 479 Fall 2015 iiq.pdf
The 2017 version of the course introduced a term paper project in which the students could pick a topic within the broad field of neuroscience and explore it deeper using primary literature. During this process it was important to me to mentor the students so that they understood my expectations for their final paper and seminar.
biol 479 sp 2018 iiq.pdf
The 2018 version of the course was problematic. Our book never arrived at the bookstore and the course was scheduled once a week for 3 hours in a room that was not conducive to lectures. Despite these problems, many of the changes in the course were positive.
Mid semester course assessment neuro.pdf
These assessments are used to determine how the students perceive the course and conceptual questions are used to see if there are any misconceptions that can be addressed.
Neuro final assessment.pdf

IIQ overall instructor rating

Sample course materials

ch5 synaptic transmission 2018

This course has undergone some significant changes over the years. The first version was solely focused on sensory systems, but this was a little too myopic for a course. I refocused the course so that in its 3rd year we started by studying neurons, then studied how neural circuits can function, then we examined complex interactions within and between brain regions. Between the 2nd and 3rd year the course switched from a twice a week 1hr 45min course to a once a week 3 hour course. For the latter, I used more active learning and discussion and lectured as little as possible.

Biol 479 Synaptic plasticity activity.pdf
voltage gating sim 2018.pdf
This course uses a lot of activities which help students learn. We use simulations through simbio and other organizations and physical simulations which I have created. This allows students to learn through experience.
Braitenberg’s vehicles handout.pdf
This activity uses legos to teach how simple changes in neuronal connections can make complex changes in behavior
Neuro Exam 2 2018 new version.pdf
Exams in this course are all about having the students apply their knowledge and analyze data to make determinations.
Neuro notes 2-23.pdf
I originally created these guided notes for me to structure my lessons. However, adjusting to not having a book meant that the students needed structure as well. I started giving the students my notes-- they loved it. This inspired using guided notes in all of my courses.
Neuro notes 4.pdf