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This course aims for a mechanistic description of mammalian brain function at the level of individual nerve cells and their synaptic interactions. The function of the brain is to govern behavior, and the objective of this course is to causally link biophysical mechanisms with simple behaviors studied in mice. The brain processes information through the concerted activity of many neurons, which communicate with each other through synapses organised in highly dynamic networks. The first goal of the course is to gain a detailed understanding of the structure and function of the fundamental building blocks of the mammalian brain, its synapses and neurons (Weeks 1-3). The second goal is to understand neuronal networks, with specific emphasis on the interactions of excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic neurons (Weeks 4-5). The third goal is to place neuronal network function in the context of sensory processing ultimately leading to behavioral decisions and motor output (Weeks 6-7).


  • Week 1: Introduction – The cell membrane – Ion channels – Membrane potential – Cable properties
  • Week 2: Voltage-gated channels – Voltage-gating kinetics – The action potential – Action potential propagation – Whole-cell recordings
  • Week 3: Synaptic transmission – Neurotransmitter release – Presynaptic dynamics – Presynaptic modulation – Electron microscopy
  • Week 4: Glutamate receptors – Postsynaptic potentials – Glutamatergic circuits – Synaptic plasticity – Dendritic spines
  • Week 5: GABAergic inhibition – Inhibitory synaptic conductances – Benzodiazepines – GABAergic projections – Neocortical inhibition
  • Week 6: Brain function and behavior – Man and mouse – Imaging the brain in action – In vivo electrophysiology – Controlling brain function
  • Week 7: Sensorimotor interactions – Sensory perception – Learning – Brain dysfunction – Concluding remarks


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Last reader comment

Great support material, thank you for this and the edx mooc!

by Sophie Mutel on 09/03/2022 17:29


Publisher: EPFL Press

Author(s): Carl Petersen

Collection: BOOCs EPFL

Published: 20 december 2016

Edition: 1st edition

Media: eBook [PDF]

Pages count eBook [PDF]: 106

Size: 40 Mo (PDF)

Language(s): English

EAN13 eBook [PDF]: 9782889144006

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