Synaptic Plasticity and Memory, from Molecules to Behavior >> Content Detail



Each week one or two questions will be distributed with the papers. Brief answers to the questions should be emailed to the instructor by the evening prior to discussion of the papers. To pass the class, students are expected to attend class, demonstrate fluency in the course material, submit answers to the guiding questions (listed in the table below), and complete the assignments (described in the table below):

2Scientific reading, writing and learning mechanisms of simple invertebrates

Questions due by this session

— What was the purpose of the experiment described in figure 3?

Assignment due after this session

— Convert a cake recipe to scientific article format: During Ses #1, students will be given a recipe for baking a cake and will need to present it in the format of a scientific article (Introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion).

— Additionally, students will be asked to define 'learning' in one sentence.

3Synaptic plasticity in rodent hippocampal slices

Questions due by this session

— Schwartzkroin, and Wester – How is the specificity of the input demonstrated?

— Stanton, and Sarvey – What is the difference between Emetine and Cycloheximide as demonstrated by this paper?

4Molecular mechanisms underlying LTP

Questions due by this session

— Coan, et al. – What is the difference between the circles and the squares in figure 2?

— Hayashi, et al. – What is a PDZS domain?

5Complicating the model of LTP

Questions due by this session

— Dudek, and Bear – What are the characteristics shared by LTP and LTD?

— Borroni, et al. – In figure 5, what is represented by the dark bars in panel A? and what in panel B?

6The Morris water maze

Questions due by this session

— Morris – When should a cued platform be used?

— Halagappa, et al. – How does the experiment described in figure 1 affect the interpretation of the experiments in figures 2 – 4?

7Place cells

Questions due by this session

— O'Keefe, and Dostrovsky – Define a hippocampal spatial unit.

— Ji, and Wilson – Focus on the introduction and discussion. The results section is very technical?

— Choose the figure that, in your opinion, captures the essence of the paper. Be prepared to explain it.

Assignment due after this session

— Use literature searching software to find research that builds on material discussed in class: During Ses #16 we will discuss using information gathering tools such as PUBMED. As an assignment, you will have to find a paper that builds on the research described in this week's papers to answer a question you find interesting.

8Field trip
9NMDA receptors and place cells

Questions due by this session

— Tsien, et al. – How are NMDA receptors eliminated only in CA1 region of the hippocampus?

— McHugh, et al. – What does NMDA receptor dependent plasticity in CA1 contribute to place field representation?

10Hippocampal representation of space in contextual fear conditioning

Questions due by this session

— Wiltgen, et al. – What does the hippocampus contribute to contextual fear learning?

— Miota, et al. – What is the "trade off" that is necessary when using place cell analysis to study fear memory?

11Synaptic tagging

Questions due by this session

— Sajikumar, et al. – How would you test if a compound inhibits LTP induction or maintenance?

— Kauderer, and Kandel – What stimulation protocol is sufficient for setting an LTD 'Tag'?

Assignment due after this session

— Short essay designing an experiment aimed at answering a specific question in the literature: The papers for Ses #10 present a theoretical framework called 'synaptic tagging' which was created for understanding molecular events underlying memory. One of the issues addressed by 'tagging' is: How does the molecular signal being amplified in the nucleus know which synapse to go back to? Students will be asked to design an experiment that can test a hypothesis for answering this question. The experimental design should include a description of the student's theory and the way to test it with an emphasis on relevant control experiments. The assignment should be 1–3 pages long.

12Other aspects of place cells

Questions due by this session

— Oler, and Markus – What parameter of place field representation deteriorates with age?

— Hafting, et al. – Which characteristic of Grid cells changes in a dorsal/ventral gradient?

13Does LTP really happen in the brain?

Questions due by this session

— Tse, et al. – What does a non–cued trial control for?

— Give an example for a schema that you apply in your life experience.

14Schemas' of memory


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