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BIOL 469

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Biol/Bb H469, NEUROBIOLOGY, Spring 2012

Comprehensive introduction to the cellular, molecular, physiological and developmental principles of the Nervous system.


Last updated: December, 2013

Class meetings                    Mon, Wed, Fri 1:25-2:15  (except final exam)

Class room                            111 Wartik

Textbook (required)                    Kandel, Schwarz, Jessel, Seigelbaum and Hudspeth

                                                   Principles of Neural Science

                                                   5th edition, 

                                                   McGraw-Hill, 2013, ISBN 978-0-07-139011-8

Prerequisite                            BIOL 240W

Course director                    Timothy Jegla, Ph.D.

                                                   Assistant Professor of Biology, Huck Institute of Life Sciences

                                                   Office visits: Monday 4-6 PM, 230 Life Sciences 

                                                   Email: (please add Biol469 to subject line)

                                                   Phone: 865-1668


Learning objectives: 

Students will acquire an understanding of basic neurobiology including terminology of neuronal structures and functions and experimental approaches designed to integrate the principles of neural cell biology, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuroendocrinology, neuropharmacology, genetics and molecular biology.


I. Cells, neural structures, and membrane properties important for neural function.

II. Neurotransmitters, receptors, ion channels and 2nd messenger systems underlying excitability and synaptic transmission.

III. Embryonic structures, molecules and signaling mechanisms underlying brain development.

IV. Molecular/cellular mechanisms of learning, memory and sensory perception.


Lecture notes will be posted to Angel as Powerpoint files the night before class. Every effort will be made to post slides by the end of the day preceding the lecture. Reading the handout is not sufficient to do well in this class. There was a 20% difference in exam grades for students meeting or not meeting attendance goals as measured by clicker participation last year!



 3 in class mid-term examinations plus one final exam (1/2 cumulative and 1/2 specifically addressing material discussed after the third exam). Each exam will have 40 multiple choice questions. Your best 2 of 3 midterms will count towards the final grade, 30 points each; the lowest exam score will be dropped. The final exam will count for 30 points; it will be scheduled separately during finals week and is mandatory. Exams in total will count for 90% of the final grade.


Exam Score Reporting: 

Exam scores will always be posted to Angel and in some cases will be reported by email to your student access account after they have been processed by University Testing Services. It is your responsibility to learn to use your account, and check your posted scores for accuracy. Take your student ID card to the CAC help desk at either 215 Computer Building (3-2494) or 12 Willard (3-1035) to learn how to use your account. 


Missed Exams: 

A missed exam can be skipped (Top 2 of 3 midterm exams count for final grade), or you can choose to take a make-up exam consisting of 8 short essay questions. Make up exams are only given for acceptable reasons (serious illness, family emergency etc.). In order to qualify for a make up exam you have to give notice at least two days prior to the exam and it must be taken BEFORE the next exam. Be advised that scores were lower on make-up exams last semester.



10% of the grade will be given for class participation as measured by i>clicker usage. i>clicker will be used every day in class for questions, and you are responsible for bringing your remote to class. Students who show participation in >80% of the classes during the semester will receive 7% credit towards the final grade. Students who answer >80% of all questions during the semester will receive an additional 3% credit. Partial credit will not be issued for students failing to meet the participation criteria, and there will be no opportunities for makeup. The built in 20% margin is intended to cover forgotten remotes or technical issues. Please note that you will be graded on participation only, not on accuracy of answers. However, making you best effort to answer questions accurately will help your instructor understand which material was effectively communicated and which material need further explanation.


You need to purchase an i>clicker (Penn State Bookstore,, etc.) and register the device at at the latest by Feb. 3rd (Complete the fields with your first name, last name, student ID, and remote ID). Your student ID should be your Access Account ID, i.e., the user name that forms the first part of your Penn State email address and that you would use to login to ANGEL. DO NOT enter in your 9-digit student number. The remote ID is the series of numbers and sometimes letters found on the bottom of the back of your i>clicker remote. A manual can be downloaded as a pdf here.



The following scale gives approximate assignments for final grades. This scale is based on an overall class mean of 70% and may be adjusted downward if class mean is lower. It will NOT be adjusted upwards, so if you all do well, you win. Grades/percentage: A, A-, 85–100; B+, B, B-, 70-84.99; C, C+, 57-69.99; D, 50-56.99; F < 50


Academic Integrity and code of conduct

All Penn State Policies regarding ethics and honorable behavior apply to this course (see underlined links for policy statements). In particular, Academic Integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, and facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others.


During exams, violations of academic integrity shall consist of any attempt to receive assistance from written or printed aids, from any person or papers or electronic devices, or of any attempt to give assistance, whether the student doing so has completed his or her own work or not. Other violations include, but are not limited to, any attempt to gain an unfair advantage in regard to an exam, such as tampering with a graded exam or claiming another's work to be one's own. Any instances of academic dishonesty WILL be pursued under University and Eberly College of Science regulations concerning academic integrity. 


The Eberly College of Science Code of Mutual Respect and Cooperation ( embodies the values that will make it a place where every individual feels respected and valued, as well as challenged and rewarded.


The Eberly College of Science is committed to the academic success of students enrolled in the College's  courses and undergraduate programs. When in need of help,  students can utilize various College and University- wide resources for learning assistance.  Visit:



 Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site  (


In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation. If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.”


How to do well in this class

1. Come to class – you not only need to do this to get the participation credit, but you can sometimes tell a lot about what to learn by seeing what the lecturer emphasizes. It can be tempting to skip out on review sessions, but this is where we will go over all the important concepts for the exam.

2. Take notes and ask questions - it will help you to stay alert and to realize what you do or don’t understand.

3. Work in small groups – quiz each other, synthesize your own exam questions, share and discuss them.

4. Compare and contrast material from multiple lectures – make sure you understand how they relate and ask if you don’t understand. If you find you are weak on some of the basic biology background, actively go seek to fill it in before you fall behind. I can help suggest texts if truly necessary. 

5. Make your own summary drawings and lists of concepts (of a neuron, its receptors, synapses, neural structures etc) – do you know how it all works? Memorizing lists without understanding concepts will probably not be enough to excel.

6. Come to office hours when you need help! I have turned a lot of struggling students around who had the courage to come. Don’t wait too late – if the 1st exam is not what you wanted, come in to get on track before the 2nd exam!






Lec #


Reading (pages)




Introduction to course/Background and History of Neuroscience.

Chapter 1

T Jegla



Introduction to neurons

Chapter 2

T Jegla



Genes and behavior

Chapter 3

T Jegla



No Class/ MLK Day



W- 1/22


Cytology of neurons

Chapter 4

T Jegla

F- 1/24


Synthesis and trafficking of neuronal proteins

Chapter 4

T Jegla

M- 1/27


Neuronal electrical potentials and Ion Channels

Chapter 5

T Jegla



Ion Channel diversity and function

Chapter 5

T Jegla



Local electrical signaling

Chapter 6

T Jegla

M- 2/3


Local signaling/cable properties

Chapter 6

T Jegla

W- 2/5


Propagated signaling/action potential

Chapter 7

T Jegla

F- 2/7


Propagated signaling/action potential

Chapter 7

T Jegla

M- 2/10




T Jegla

W- 2/12


Exam 1



F- 2/14


Overview of synaptic transmission

Chapter 8

T Jegla

M- 2/17


The NMJ: Directly gated transmission

Chapter 9

T Jegla

W 2/19


The NMJ: Directly gated transmission

Chapter 9

T Jegla

F- 2/21


Synaptic integration in the CNS

Chapter 10

T Jegla

M- 2/24


Synaptic integration II

Chapter 10

T Jegla

W- 2/26


Synaptic integration III / Modulation of synaptic transm.

Chapter 11

T Jegla

F- 2/28


Modulation of synaptic transmission

Chapter 11

T Jegla

M- 3/3


Transmitter release

Chapter 12

T Jegla

W- 3/5


Transmitter release

Chapter 12

T Jegla

F- 3/7


Synaptic plasticity

Chapter 47

P Drew

MWF 3/10-14


No Class/Spring Break



M- 3/17


Synthesis of Neurotransmitter

Chapter 13

T Jegla

W- 3/19




T Jegla

F- 3/21


Exam 2



M- 3/24


Uptake of Neurotransmitters

Chapter 13

T Jegla

W- 3/26


Neurobiology of Glia


T Jegla

F- 3/28


Induction and Patterning of the NS

Chapter 52

T Jegla

M- 3/31


Induction and Patterning of the NS

Chapter 52

T Jegla

W- 4/2



Chapter 53

T Jegla

F- 4/4


Axon Guidance

Chapter 54


M- 4/7


Formation / regeneration of synapses

Chapter 55

T Jegla

W- 4/9


Formation / regeneration of synapses

Chapter 56

T Jegla

F- 4/11


Sensing Light: vision

Chapter 26

T Jegla

M- 4/14


Sensing Light: the circadian clock


T Jegla

W- 4/16


Nervous system evolution


T Jegla

W- 4/16




T Jegla

F- 4/18


Exam 3



 M- 4/21


Autonomic nervous system

Chapter 67

T Jegla

W- 4/23



Chapter 50

T Jegla

F- 4/25


Sensing Temperature: a story of peppers and mint

Chapter 22

T Jegla

M- 4/28



Chapters 30,31

T Jegla

W- 4/30



Chapter 32

T Jegla

F- 5/2


Review 2 (last class)


T Jegla