Teaching Note

For our colleagues using this course, the objectives are to survey sensory neural systems and to provide focused areas for students to explore intensely, with collaboration, support and/or critique, as they would for a doctoral thesis or professional paper.

  1. To advance fluency in the language and basic literature with specific application to space life sciences.
  2. To examine specific papers that have been of historic importance and interest in the field.
  3. To promote the capacity of students to appreciate the most important elements of the papers they read, capture some of their subtleties, and then be able to present it in their own words before their peers, with appropriate supporting media.
  4. To provide the experience of collaborating on challenging research in space life sciences.
  5. To provide the opportunity for students to proceed, with faculty support, to complete full studies of a particular topic based primarily on the published literature. (Our students are permitted to apply the work they do to further potential thesis research, but not to present prior research to fulfill requirements of the course.)

The class sessions are three hours long to allow time for student and faculty presentations. The course includes a field trip to a clinical facility at Massachusetts General Hospital. Each student presents to the group in alternate weeks.

The students enrolled in the course were MIT graduate students diverse by gender, race and national origin. In earlier versions, the class has included a student of another institution, a member of the military and an astronaut (and a faculty member at another educational institution.)

The course is taught at MIT by faculty from MIT and the Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School).

Faculty planning to use this course might use its apparatus and its references as suggestions—or templates—for a challenging student-centered graduate one-term course in Sensorimotor Neural Systems. Our students reported that they worked hard in the course, and that they were largely pleased (or better) with what they took away from it.