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.
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.
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.
IIQ overall instructor rating
Sample course materials
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.