ECTS credits: 5
Level of course: PhD and advanced MSc students
Time of year: Q2, 2022
No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 35 hours of lectures + 20 hours of assignments, 40 hours of reading the textbook reference
Capacity limits: 20 participants
This course is organized by DANDRITE, who is part of the Nordic EMBL Partnership. Therefore, the course is reserved for PhD students enrolled with one of the four partnership nodes (DANDRITE, MIMS, FIMM and NCMM). Other students are encouraged to apply and will be put on a waiting list. After the registration deadline, available seats will be allocated to the waiting list.
The course fee is DKK 1.000 for all participants and will cover some of the direct costs related to demonstrations of various techniques and lab visits.
Objectives of the course:
This course is interested in the following question: How can the brain be far smarter than a supercomputer yet consume 100,000-fold less space and energy? Both brain and computer obey mathematical and physical laws and both deal with receiving, sending, processing, storing and retrieving information.
First, we will discuss why animals need brain. To provide the perspective, we discuss how brainless organisms such as bacteria and protozoa solve their problems in a constantly changing environments, what limitation they face which can be solved only by a brain.
Then we ask why larger brains have been favored by the evolution. We discuss the advantages that organisms with larger brains have over worms and flies.
For the rest of the lecture, we will discuss what constrains a large brain faces and how those constrains shape the neural design. We will argue that the (for now) unmatched computational power and efficiency of the brain lies in the principles of neural designs.
To understand the efficiency of the brain, first we will introduce students to the basic principles of information theory, so they can appreciate how the brain cleverly exploits these principles to compute most efficiently given limited in space and energy.
We will use the visual system as the example of a clever design for achieving the highest computational power within the limits of space and energy imposed by the laws of physics.
Finally, we will show that learning is a deep principle of neural design. As such, it is subject to the same constraints discussed previously. Regarding the encoding of new information and memories, we will discuss how synapses serve to conserve space, time, and energy and what are the molecular designs of short-term and long-term memories. We will conclude the section by pointing out to the downsides to design for learning, including addiction (in its broadest definition), depression, …
The course is supplemented with an introduction to the techniques that are (mainly) exclusive to neuroscience. This includes optogenetics, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, calcium imaging from behaving animals, and animal behavior. Students will visit the labs performing these experiments and will see these techniques in action.
Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
Active participation, assignments.
A grasp of the materials covered in the course Neurobiology 555152U006 should be sufficient. This is equivalent to a 10 ECTS in basic neurobiology at the level provided by basic textbooks such as Principles of Neurobiology by Liqun Luo; From Neuron to Brain by John G. Nicholls et al.; Neuroscience- Exploring the Brain by Mark Bear et al.; Principles of Neural Science by Eric Kandel et al.
Name of lecturer:
Type of course/teaching methods:
Textbook, papers, and lab/experimental set up visit
The main textbook: Principles of Neural Design: Peter Sterling and Simon Laughlin
Complementary textbook: Principles of Neurobiology: Liqun Luo
In addition, we will use review articles, original research papers, and reliable web sites.
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
24-29 May 2022
Deadline for registration is 23 May.
Please sign up via this link: https://events.au.dk/theprinciplesofneuralorganization/signup
Please note that participants will be charged a course fee of DKK 1.000, which will cover some of the direct costs related to demonstrations of various techniques and lab visits. All applicants are therefore asked to submit invoice details. If you are a PhD student, your participation in the course must be agreed upon with your principal supervisor.
If you have any questions, please contact Sadegh Nabavi, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org