I am currently on sabbatical leave, and will return to teaching in Fall 2018.

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This course explores learning and motivation from a physiological, pharmacological and behavioral perspective, introducing the principal methods and logical inferences used in experiments that use laboratory animals. However, wherever possible, it is shown how these findings can be applied to humans, especially in a clinical setting. Topics covered under learning include: different types of associative learning and their neural basis with a focus on the notion that the mammalian brain is organized into multiple learning and memory systems. Topics covered under the category of motivation include the neural basis of eating, drinking and sleep and the neural correlates of reward and emotion.



Synaptic organization is the study of principles underlying the organization of synapses and neurons into circuits that mediate the functional operations of different brain regions. It is a multidisciplinary and multi-level subject that integrates experimental findings from a vast number of disciplines including molecular neurobiology, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and behavioural neuroscience. We start with a focus on the property of the synapse as a basic unit of neural circuit organization, moving up to the property of whole neurons and multi-neuronal local circuits characteristic of a given brain region, then explore the interactions between various circuits forming a neural system, right up to system-system interactions that occur in a normal and abnormal brain.  We will also explore some exciting new developments in the field such as the use of receptor knockouts in rodents to establish causal functions of specific receptors, optogenetic techniques in the investigation of neural circuitries in brain function, and the approach of looking at network oscillations in the brain as underlying certain functions.

Scientist in the Lab


The Neuroscience Laboratory course is an upper level course for the Neuroscience specialist program, designed to teach hands-on research techniques that are commonly used in behavioural/systems neuroscience, to students who will likely go on to post-graduate study in a neuroscience related field.  The behavioural procedures have been carefully chosen to offer training in a wide variety of behavioural techniques ranging from the use of operant boxes (lever pressing for food), mazes (water maze, elevated plus maze) and other equipment (open field), while minimizing discomfort to the animal subjects. Students will also acquire skills in the areas of research design, animal handling, data collection and analysis, literature review, critical thinking and research writing.