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Selected Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience

The Neurobiology of Learning & Memory
(PSYC 222) Summer 2012 Instructor
Matthew Campolattaro, PhD Dewey Hall 304 Office Hours: 11am-12pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and also by appointment Office Phone: 656-4705 E-mail:

Meeting Time & Location
1:00pm-3:30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Rowell N/a Health 115

Biopsychology (PSYC 121), Physiological Psychology (PSYC 221) or Instructor’s permission

Course Summary
This course will survey the fundamental concepts, facts and methodologies for examining how the brain learns and remembers information. Discussions will focus on the molecular-, cellular- and neurobiological systems-level approaches that are used to investigate memory formation, retention and expression. Memory neuropathology will also be discussed.

Learning Goals
Memories contain information about our past, help us engage in the present, and plan for the future. The goal of this course is to gain an appreciation and understanding about the neurobiological basis of memory formation and expression.

Learning Outcomes
By the completion of this course students will:  Know the cellular mechanisms that can strengthen synapses.  Know the major molecules and brain areas (e.g., hippocampus, amygdala, cerebellum, neocortex) that are involved in different forms of learning.  Know how animal and human research is used to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms of learning.  Understand how animal research is pivotal to unlocking the mysteries of brain function.  Understand how to locate, summarize and integrate findings obtained from peer-reviewed publications.  Be able to create and deliver a research presentation  Be able to think critically about research

General Structure of the Class
Lectures will cover important topics in the textbook, including concepts and key experiments, and will I add supplementary information. On selected days students will present supplementary readings as well as (time permitting) delving further into important concepts. My role will be to guide and shape the discussion, but I expect students to take an active role in posing and (hopefully) answering questions.

Blackboard Information
I will be using Blackboard to manage the course. The syllabus and basic information regarding the semester plan will be available online. In addition, the supplemental readings (i.e., Handouts and Articles) will be available. PowerPoint overheads will be made available before each lecture.

Rudy, J.W. (2008). The Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Course Grading Summary
Exam 1 - 20% Exam 2 - 20% Exam 3 - 20% Article Presentation - 20% Article Review - 10% Class Discussion Participation - 10%

Exam format generally will be multiple-choice, diagrams and short answer. Exams will cover lectures, assigned readings, in-class videos and student presentations. Exams are not cumulative in content per se, but are cumulative conceptually. Make-up exams must be arranged with the instructor at least 48 hours prior to the exam. In the event of an illness, make-up exams will be administered only if a medical excuse is provided by the Dean’s office. If you have a medical condition that may interfere with taking an exam sometime in the semester, you must contact me in the first week of class to discuss it.

Article Presentations and Review
Students will be required to give a short presentation of an empirical peer-reviewed journal article during the semester. These will likely be conducted in groups, depending on enrollment. You must select an article related to the week’s topic that you are assigned and have it approved by me. I am happy to recommend articles and journal titles. You also will be required to submit a 2-3 page written review paper that summarizes an article that is either referenced-in, or is referenced-by, your selected paper. This assignment is due the class period after your scheduled presentation. Criteria for Presentations and Reviews: These presentations should be made in Powerpoint format and sent to me the night before class. Again, one to three students will present an article, depending on enrollment. Presentations should be about 20 to 25 minutes, including a 5 minute period for questions.

Presentations and reviews should include the following information: (1) Summary of the main concept(s) or reason for doing the study and how the topic fits into the material our textbook. (2) The hypothesis (or hypotheses) of the research? (3) Description of the methods used and results produced (focus on the purpose of particular methods, rather than every detail). (4) How the results relate to the main concept(s) and hypothesis/hypotheses of the study? (5) Potential limitations or shortcomings of the study. (6) Critical review/opinion about the study. Your Powerpoint presentation should be 10-15 slides. Your review should be 2-3 pages. Please do not copy and paste long passages out the article. Make sure to define terminology that your audience might not be familiar with. See me if you are struggling with understanding an article. Points will be awarded based on the following criteria: 1. Quality and organization – 20 pts 2. Understanding of the paper – 20 pts 3. Study limits and critical review – 30 pts

Paper Discussions
Each week we will have a seminar-style discussion of a recent empirical and/or other current press release in the media related to the neurobiology of memory. Please keep your eyes and brain on alert when perusing the news for interesting articles related to our select topic of the neurobiology of learning.

Attendance and Class Etiquette
Attendance is required. Please turn cell phones off or to silent mode and do not use text messaging or email during class.

Student Learning Accommodations
If you have a formal accommodation plan developed in conjunction with UVMs ACCESS Office or would like to discuss the supports that you need in order to learn well in this class, please contact me in the beginning of the semester. Adaptations and instructional supports are available through consultation with the instructor and the ACCESS Office. ACCESS Office: UVM’s policy on disability certification and student support:

Religious Holidays
Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. If you need to miss class to observe a religious holiday, please submit the dates of your absence to me in writing by the end of the second full week of classes. You will be permitted to make up work within a mutually agreed-upon time.

Academic Integrity
The policy addresses plagiarism, fabrication, collusion, and cheating.

Grade Appeals
If you would like to contest a grade, please follow the procedures outlined in this policy:

For information on grading and GPA calculation, go to and click on Policies for an A-Z listing.

Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities

FERPA Rights Disclosure
The purpose of this policy is to communicate the rights of students regarding access to, and privacy of their student educational records as provided for in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.

Class Schedule
Every effort will be made to stay on schedule


May 22 May 23 May 24 May 29 May 30 May 31 Jun 5 Jun 6 Jun7 Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 19 Jun 20 Jun 21 Jun 26 Jun 27 Jun 28

Course Overview and Foundations Synaptic Plasticity Long term Potentiation ( + class discussion) Synaptic Plasticity Calcium Signaling ( + presentation 1) Dendrites ( + class discussion) Exam I Studying Memory in Animals & Humans ( + presentation 2) Biological Basis of Memory Formation ( + discussion) Memory Consolidation ( + presentation 3) Memory Modulation ( + presentation 4) Memory Retrieval ( + discussion) Exam II Hippocampus ( + presentation 5) Hippocampus and Neocortex ( + presentation 6) Emotional Learning ( + presentation 7) Motor Learning ( + discussion) Exam III

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 2, Handout 1 Chapter 3-4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6, Handout 2 None Chapter 7 Chapter 8, Handout 3 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11, Handout 4 None Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 15 Chapter 16, Handout 5 None