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Topics & Learning Objectives Help Center

Topic titles in bold reflect the videos in the Video Lectures page. The indented text below each title reflects the
Lesson Objectives for that topic, which are also available for reference in the Tutorial Notes. You will also find a
resource for a direct link to all of the figures mentioned throughout the course in the Tutorial Figures page.

Unit 0: Preliminary Material:


Welcome and Course Overview

Unit 1: Neuroanatomy

Some of My Favorite Places in the Brain

Functional Microanatomy of Neurons


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Differentiate the basic classes of cells found in the central nervous system (CNS).

Characterize the functional microanatomy of neurons (differentiate neuronal cell bodies, dendrites,
axons and synapses).

Describe the microanatomical composition of gray matter and white matter in the CNS.
Non-Neural Cells of the Central Nervous System (CNS)

Describe the basic classes of cells found in the central nervous system (CNS).

Describe the basic functions of the three types of glial cells found in the CNS.

Characterize the blood-brain barrier.


Basic Orientation in the Human CNS

Discuss position in various divisions of the central nervous system (CNS) using the following pairs
of direction terms: anterior/posterior; rostral/caudal; superior/inferior; dorsal/ventral; and medial/lateral

Demonstrate the three orthogonal planes that are used to section the CNS.
Lateral Surface of the Cerebral Hemispheres

Demonstrate the four paired lobes of the cerebral cortex and describe the boundaries of each.

Sketch the major features of each cerebral lobe, as seen from the lateral view, identifying major gyri
and sulci that characterize each lobe.
Medial Surface of the Cerebral Hemispheres

Demonstrate the four paired lobes of the cerebral cortex and describe the boundaries of each.

Sketch the major features of each cerebral lobe, as seen from the medial view, identifying major gyri
and sulci that characterize each lobe.
Finding the Central Sulcus

Recognize the central sulcus from its medial terminus in the paracentral lobule to its lateral terminus

in the lateral fissure.


Sketch the central sulcus in the cerebral hemisphere and label the segments of the pre- and post-

central gyri that represent somatic motor control and somatic sensation for the contralateral leg, arm and
face.
Ventral Surface of the Cerebral Hemisphere

Describe the major features of the cerebral lobes, as seen from the ventral view, discussing major
gyri and sulci that characterize each lobe.

Recognize the major embryological subdivisions of the brain that are visible from the ventral view.

Fingers to Gyri

Blood Supply to the Brain


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Identify the major blood vessels that comprise the anterior and posterior circulation of the brain.

Discuss the source of blood to the anterior and posterior circulation.

Sketch the anastomotic ring of blood vessels (the circle of Willis) at the base of the brain.

Identify the major blood vessels that supply the spinal cord.

Describe the system of vessels for venous drainage of blood from the brain into the jugular veins.

Surface Anatomy of the Brainstem

Cranial & Spinal Nerves (3 parts)

Discuss the functions of the cranial nerves in terms of the sensory and motor signals conveyed by
each nerve.

Discuss the organization and composition of a typical spinal nerve.

Cranial Nerve Function (2 parts)

Internal Anatomy of the Brainstem

Cranial Nerve Nuclei (4 parts)


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Identify the major subdivisions of the brainstem and spinal cord, as seen in representative
transverse cross-sections.

Discuss the relationship between the cranial nerves and the corresponding cranial nerve nuclei.
Internal Anatomy of the Spinal Cord (3 parts)

Discuss the organization of gray matter in the spinal cord and the general functions associated with
the dorsal horn, ventral horn and intermediate gray matter.

Discuss the organization of white matter in the spinal cord and the general functions associated with
each column.
Ventricles

Describe the distribution of the ventricular spaces in the forebrain and brainstem.
Internal Capsule and Deep Gray Matter (3 parts)

Identify major white matter and gray matter structures that are apparent in sectional views of the
forebrain, including the structures listed in the chart and figures in this tutorial.

Describe and sketch the relations of the deep gray matter structures to the internal capsule in
coronal and axial sections of the forebrain.

Describe the distribution of the ventricular spaces in the forebrain and brainstem.

Unit 2: Neural Signaling


Overview of Neural Signaling

Differentiate the resting membrane potential from the action potential.

Describe one means for encoding information in the activity of neurons.


Ionic Basis of the Resting Membrane Potential (2 parts)

Describe the concept of electrochemical equilibrium and relate this concept to the resting
membrane potential of neurons.

Explain why the permeability of the neuronal plasma membrane at rest to K+, and the concentration
gradient of this ion across the neuronal plasma membrane, account for the resting membrane potential of
neurons.

Use the Nernst equation to predict the resting membrane potential of neurons given knowledge of
the concentration gradients of permeant ions.
Ionic Basis of the Action Potential (3 parts)

Use the Goldman (and Nernst) equations to predict the membrane potential of neurons given
knowledge of the concentration gradients of ions and their relative permeabilities across the neuronal
plasma membrane.

Describe the ionic basis of the action potential in terms of the voltage- and time-dependant changes
in ionic permeabilities that occur across the neuronal plasma membrane.

Describe the driving force for current flow across the plasma membrane.

With careful precision, relate the time course of changes in Na+ and K+ conductance to changes in
membrane potential during the action potential.
Molecular Mechanisms of Action Potential Generation (2 parts)

Describe the molecular properties of sodium and potassium channels that explain the voltage- and
time-dependent permeability changes underlying action potential generation.

Describe the molecular mechanisms for establishing chemical gradients for sodium and potassium
across the neuronal plasma membrane.
Propagation of Action Potentials

Describe the ionic basis of the action potential in terms of the voltage- and time-dependent changes
in ionic permeabilities that occur across the neuronal plasma membrane.

Characterize the advantages of myelination for the conduction of an action potential along an axon.
Synaptic Transmission (2 parts)

Compare and contrast the structural and functional similarities and differences between electrical
and chemical synapses.

Describe the sequence of events responsible for the transmission of a neural impulse from one
neuron to the next via a chemical synapse.

Characterize the critical role of calcium in chemical neurotransmission.

Discuss the mechanisms of action by which Botox affects neurotransmission.


Neurotransmitters (2 parts)

Name the major small molecule neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in the CNS and briefly state
the function of each.

Account for the factors that determine the effect of neurotransmitters on postsynaptic neurons.
Neurotransmitters Receptors (3 parts)

Discuss the means by which ligand-gated ion channels affect the membrane potential of
postsynaptic neurons.

Compare and contrast the structure and function of ligand-gated ion channels and metabotropic (Gprotein coupled) receptors.

Discuss the properties of the NMDA receptor for glutamate and why it is important for synaptic
plasticity.

Account for the factors that determine the effect of neurotransmitters on postsynaptic neurons.
Synaptic Integration

Discuss the concepts, excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) and inhibitory postsynaptic
potential (IPSP), defining them in terms of the reversal potential for the postsynaptic current and the
threshold for generating an action potential.

Describe how postsynaptic potentials can summate in space and time.


Synaptic Plasticity: LTP & LTD (3 parts)

Characterize general cellular mechanisms for synaptic change.

Characterize long-term potentiation (LTP).

Discuss the role of AMPA and NMDA subtypes of glutamate receptors in the induction and
maintenance of LTP.

Characterize long-term depression (LTD).

Discuss the molecular basis of LTD in the cerebral cortex and cerebellar cortex.
Synaptic Plasticity: STDP

Characterize general cellular mechanisms for synaptic change.

Discuss the importance of the timing of the postsynaptic response, relative to presynaptic activity,
for synaptic plasticity.
Synaptic Plasticity: Hebb's Postulate

Characterize general cellular mechanisms for synaptic change.

State Hebbs postulate and discuss its relevance for neural plasticity.

Unit 3: Sensory Systems


The Thalamus

Discuss the embryological origin of the thalamus.

Discuss the location of the thalamus in the human brain.

Characterize the role of the thalamus in brain function.


Overview of Cortex and Cortical Circuits (2 parts)

Discuss the embryological origin of the cerebral cortex.

Discuss differences in the cytoarchitecture across the cerebral cortex.

Discuss the anatomical organization of the cortical microcircuit.

Characterize the ACC functions of the cortical microcircuit.


General Principles of Sensory Systems (2 parts)

Discuss the organization of neuronal pathways in sensory and motor systems.

Account for the generation of action potentials in peripheral axons in response to somatic sensory
stimulation.

Discuss factors that influence how information is coded in sensory systems.

Discuss the concept of the receptive field in sensory processing.


Mechanosensation (3 parts)

Identify and characterize the major sensory endings that mediate sensations elicited by touch,

vibration, proprioception, pain and temperature.


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Characterize the mapping of the body (somatotopy) in the primary somatic sensory cortex.

Discuss the distribution of somatic sensory signals to higher-order processing centers in the parietal
lobe, motor centers, emotional centers and memory centers in the brain.
Mechanosensory Pathways (3 parts)

Characterize the organization of the dorsal-column medial lemniscal system from peripheral nerve

ending to cerebral cortex.


Recognize components of the dorsal-column medial lemniscal system in the spinal cord, brainstem,

thalamus and cerebral cortex.


Characterize the organization of the trigeminal mechanosensory system from peripheral nerve

endings to cerebral cortex.


Recognize components of the trigeminal mechanosensory system in the brainstem, thalamus and

cerebral cortex.
Characterize the organization of the neural pathways that mediate unconscious proprioception

(proper proprioception) from peripheral nerve ending to cerebellum (the spinocerebellar pathway).
Recognize components of the spinocerebellar pathway in the spinal cord and brainstem.

Pain Systems (3 parts)

Discuss the complex phenomenology of pain.

Describe two categories of pain sensation (first and second pain) and explain the neural basis of
each.

Characterize the peripheral and central mechanisms underlying hyperalgesia.

Characterize the neural mechanisms for the feedback modulation of nociceptive processing.

Characterize the neural mechanisms for the feedforward modulation of nociceptive processing.

Discuss the affective dimensions of pain and identify the neural systems that are involved in pain

affect (suffering).
Pain Pathways (2 parts)

Characterize the organization of the anterolateral system from peripheral nerve ending to cerebral

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cortex.

Recognize components of the anterolateral system in the spinal cord, brainstem, thalamus and

cerebral cortex.
Characterize the organization of the trigeminal pain & temperature (spinal trigeminal) system from

peripheral nerve ending to cerebral cortex.


Recognize components of the trigeminal pain & temperature (spinal trigeminal) system in the

brainstem, thalamus and cerebral cortex.


Visual Systems: The Eye (5 parts)

Describe the factors and neural mechanisms that account for the focusing of an image on the

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retina.
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Identify the five neuronal cell types of the retina and state the roles of each in retinal processing.

Characterize the molecular processes that underlie phototransduction.

Discuss the responses of retinal ganglion cells to the onset and offset of light and the relevance of
their receptive fields for the detection of light and shadow.
Visual Systems: Central Visual Processing (3 parts)

Describe the distribution of the axons of retinal ganglion cells to major processing centers in the
forebrain and brainstem.

Discuss the major receptive field properties of V1 neurons.

Discuss the functions of parietal and temporal extrastriate visual pathways.


Visual Systems: Visual Pathways (2 parts)

Describe the distribution of the axons of retinal ganglion cells to major processing centers in the
forebrain and brainstem.

Discuss the topographic representation of visual space in the primary visual cortex (V1) and its
anatomical basis in the organization of visual projections.

Discuss the distribution and functions of parietal and temporal extrastriate visual pathways.
Visual Systems: Visual Field Deficits

Describe the distribution of the axons of retinal ganglion cells to major processing centers in the
forebrain and brainstem.

Discuss the topographic representation of visual space in the primary visual cortex (V1) and its
anatomical basis in the organization of visual projections.

Characterize, using appropriate clinical terms, the visual field deficits associated to damage or
disease along the central visual pathways.
Visual System: Pupillary Light Reflex

Describe the distribution of the axons of retinal ganglion cells to major processing centers in the
forebrain and brainstem.

Discuss the neuroanatomical basis for the pupillary light reflex.


Auditory System: Peripheral Mechanisms (3 parts)

Describe the biomechanics of sensory transduction in the middle and inner ear, including the
tonotopy of the basilar membrane.

Characterize the neurophysiology of sensory transduction in auditory hair cells.


Auditory System: Central Processing (3 parts)

Identify the neural mechanisms for localizing sounds in space.

Discuss the organization of the auditory cortex.


Vestibular System: Peripheral Mechanisms (3 parts)

Describe the anatomy of the vestibular labyrinth.

Describe the biomechanics of sensory transduction in the vestibular labyrinth, including the
biophysics of hair cell sensory transduction.
Vestibular System: Central Processing (4 parts)

Discuss the neuroanatomy and function of the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

Characterize the contributions of vestibulo-spinal projections in postural control.

Discuss the contributions of vestibular sensation to proprioception.

Chemical Senses: Overview and Olfaction

Characterize the peripheral and central organization of the olfactory system.

Discuss sensory transduction in olfactory receptor cells.

Describe information coding in the olfactory system.


Chemical Senses: Gustation

Characterize the peripheral and central organization of the gustatory system.

Discuss sensory transduction in gustatory receptor cells.

Describe information coding in the gustatory system.


Chemical Senses: Trigeminal Chemoreception

Characterize the general organization of the trigeminal chemosensory system.

Discuss sensory transduction in polymodal C nociceptive neurons.

Unit 4: Motor Systems


Lower Motor Neuronal Control: Overview & Motor Units (2 parts)

Discuss the general somatotopic organization of motor neurons in the ventral horn of the spinal

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cord.
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Characterize the motor unit and discuss different types of motor units.
LMNC: Segmental Reflexes (4 parts)

Discuss the critical components of the myotatic reflex and how they interact to monitor and adjust
muscle length.

Characterize the role of gamma motor neurons in spindle gain adjustment.

Discuss the factors that account for muscle tone.

Discuss the critical components of the Golgi tendon reflex and how they interact to monitor and
adjust the force of muscle contraction.

Discuss the critical components of the flexion/crossed-extension reflex and how they interact to
withdraw a limb from a harmful stimulus.
LMNC: Central Pattern Generation

Describe central pattern generators and their significance for locomotion and other rhythmic
behavior.
LMNC: Lower Motor Neuron Syndrome

Characterize the signs associated with damage to lower motor neurons.


Upper Motor Neuronal Control of Movement: Primary Motor Cortex (3 parts)

Discuss the neural centers that give rise to lateral and medial descending projections to lower motor
neurons.

Discuss the organization of the motor cortex and its contributions to the control of volitional
movement.

Characterize the representation of the body in the motor cortex and compare it to the representation
of the body in the primary somatic sensory cortex.

Discuss population coding in the motor cortex.


UMNC: Premotor Cortex

Discuss the neural centers that give rise to lateral and medial descending projections to lower motor
neurons.

Discuss the organization of the motor cortex and its contributions to the control of volitional
movement.
UMNC: Brainstem

Discuss the neural centers that give rise to medial descending projections from the brainstem to
lower motor neurons.
UMNC: Emotional Motor System

Discuss the evidence for an emotional motor system.


UMNC: Upper Motor Syndrome

Discuss the signs associated with damage to upper motor neurons.

UMNC: Facial Expression

Modulation of Movement by the Basal Ganglia (5 parts)


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Identify the major components of the basal ganglia, including the parts of the dorsal motor stream
and ventral limbic stream.

Discuss the role of the basal ganglia in the initiation and suppression of behavior.

Describe the principle of disinhibition and explain how it applies to the circuitry and functions of the
basal ganglia.

Discuss the critical role of dopamine in facilitating the function of basal ganglia circuitry.
Modulation of Movement by the Cerebellum (6 parts)

Identify and discuss the basic parts of the cerebellum.

Characterize in general terms the major functions performed by the cerebellum.

Sketch the major inputs and output of the cerebellum.

Describe the circuitry involved in the main excitatory loop and inhibitory side-loop through the
cerebellum.

Discuss the means by which circuitry in the cerebellum aid to increase the success of volitional
motor performance.

Describe the clinical signs and symptoms associated with cerebellar damage.
Eye Movements (6 parts)

Discuss the five major types of eye movements and indicate the functional purpose of each.

Discuss the neural circuits responsible for making a saccadic eye movement.

Discuss the roles of the frontal eye fields and the superior colliculus in directed gaze toward an
object of interest in the visual field.
Corticospinal and Corticobulbar Pathways (2 parts)

Characterize the organization of the corticospinal pathway from cortex to lower motor circuits in the
spinal cord.

Characterize the organization of the corticobulbar pathway from cortex to lower motor circuits in the
brainstem.

Recognize components of the corticospinal and corticobulbar pathways in the hemispheres,


brainstem and spinal cord.

Sketch the corticospinal and corticobulbar pathways from cortex to lower motor circuits for volitional
movement.
Visceral Motor System: Functional Anatomical Divisions (5 parts)

Describe the anatomical organization of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the
visceral motor system, including the sources of preganglionic innervation and the location of postganglionic
visceral motor neurons.

Characterize the major functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the visceral
motor system.

Identify and discuss the neural centers in the CNS that regulate the outflow of activity in the
preganglionic fibers of the visceral motor system.
VMS: Hypothalamus (2 parts)

Describe the organization of the hypothalamus and identify several functions associated with key
hypothalamic nuclei.
VMS: Micturition

Discuss the interplay among the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the visceral motor
system and the volitional somatic motor system in the control of micturition (urination; voiding urine).

Unit 5: Brain Development


Embryological Subdivisions of the Human CNS

Identify each of the major subdivisions of the adult nervous system, and relate them to their
embryological precursors and associated ventricular spaces.
Early Brain Development(6 parts)

Characterize the events that occur during gastrulation and neurulation.

State the significance of induction for the initial development of the CNS.

Discuss the factors that guide migrating neuroblasts to their final destinations in the developing gray
matter structures of the CNS.

Characterize the cellular mechanisms that influence the differentiation of neurons and glia in the

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CNS.

Describe the role of apoptosis in CNS development.

Construction of Neural Circuits(5 parts)

Characterize the structure and function of growth cones.

Discuss the major classes of molecular signals that guide axonal growth.

Discuss the mechanisms of neurotrophin signaling.


Modification of Neural Circuits in Early Neonatal Life(6 parts)

Discuss the significance of genetic specification, self-organization and sensory experience for the

construction of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex.


Discuss the significance of experience for the plasticity of neural circuits in critical periods of

postnatal development.
State Hebbs postulate and discuss its relevance for neural plasticity in developing and recovering

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brains.

The Changing Brain Across the Lifespan: Development, Repair and Regeneration(5 parts)

Discuss the neurobiological basis for changes in gray matter and while matter volume in the
developing human brain throughout childhood.

Discuss the mechanisms of regeneration of peripheral nerves following injury.

Discuss the mechanisms of plasticity in adult sensorimotor maps following peripheral injury.

Discuss the mechanisms of plasticity in adult neural circuits following central injury.

Discuss the evidence regarding neurogenesis in the adult CNS.

Unit 6: Cognition
Overview of the Associational Cortex (2 parts)

Characterize the behaviors and corresponding neural processes that contribute to cognition.

Discuss the major similarities and differences in the organization of primary cortex and
associational cortex.
Associational Cortex of the Parietal Lobe (2 parts)

Discuss the major functions that are localized to the associational cortex of the parietal lobe.
Associational Cortex of the Temporal Lobe (5 parts)

Discuss the major functions that are localized to the associational cortex of the temporal lobe.

Differentiate categories of human memory and discuss the relevant neuroanatomical systems.

Differentiate Brocas and Wernickes aphasia.

Discuss dementia and relate its associated cognitive signs to associational cortex.
Associational Cortex of the Frontal Lobe (2 parts)

Discuss the major functions that are localized to the associational cortex of the frontal lobe.
Sleep and Wakefulness (6 parts)

Discuss circadian rhythms in homeostatic functions and overt behaviors.

Discuss the underlying neural systems that account for circadian rhythmicity.

Describe the basis of brain waves (electroencephalographic activity).

Characterize the stages of non-REM and REM sleep.

Describe the functional states of the thalamocortical projection neurons in non-REM sleep and
waking states.
Overview of the Limbic Brain

Discuss the localization of the amygdala and the hippocampus in the medial temporal lobe.

Discuss the major functions associated with the limbic forebrain.


Neurobiology of Emotion (4 parts)

Characterize emotion as associative learning.

Differentiate the role of the amygdala and the orbital-medial prefrontal cortex in emotion.

Discuss involvement of limbic forebrain circuitry in decision-making.

Neurobiology of Addiction (2 parts)

Discuss the brains reward system.

Discuss involvement of limbic forebrain circuitry in mediating addictive behavior.