7.29J | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate

Cellular Neurobiology


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


7.05 General Biochemistry

Course Description

This course is the foundation for the study of cellular neurobiology. The primary material focuses on the structure of neurons, including the biophysical properties of excitable cells, synaptic transmission, neurochemistry, neurodevelopment, and integration of information in simple systems and the visual system. The different types of synapses are also covered, from chemical synapses to electrical synapses, known as gap junctions, in the squid giant axon. The problem sets are designed to ground students in the understanding that ionic gradients are the primary power source of neuronal transmission.


Squire, L. R., D. Berg, et al. Fundamental Neuroscience. 3rd ed. Academic Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780123740199.

Kandel, Eric R., James H. Schwartz, and Thomas M. Jessell, eds. Principles of Neural Science. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division, 2000. ISBN: 9780838577011.

Nicholls, John G. From Neuron to Brain. Sinauer Associates, 2011. ISBN: 9780878936090.


Exams are closed book and closed notes. Grades will be based on the following:

Problem Sets 10%
Midterm Exam 40%
Final Exam 50%


1 Introduction to the Nervous System (Quinn)  
2 Membrane Channels and Signaling (Quinn)  
3 Ionic Basis of the Resting Potential (Quinn)  
4 Action Potential I (Quinn)  
5 Action Potential II (Quinn)  
6 Neurons as Conductors: Propagation of the Action Potential (Quinn) Problem Set 1 due
7 Intro to Synaptic Transmission (Quinn)  
8 Mechanisms of Transmitter Release at Synapses (Quinn)  
9 Indirect Mechanisms of Synaptic Transmission (Quinn)  
10 Biochemistry of Neurotransmitters, Receptors, and Second-messenger Systems (Quinn) Problem Set 2 due
11 Learning and Memory I (Quinn)  
12 Learning and Memory II (Quinn)  
13 [No Lecture] Midterm Exam
14 Brain Structure and Genomics (Littleton)  
15 Nervous System Development I (Littleton)  
16 Nervous System Development II (Littleton)  
17 Axon Guidance (Littleton)  
18 Synapse Formation (Littleton)  
19 Fine-Tuning Synaptic Connections (Littleton)  
20 Vision I (Littleton)  
21 Vision II (Littleton)  
22 Hearing (Littleton) Problem Set 3 due
23 Olfaction and Other Sensory Systems (Littleton)  
24 Touch, Pain and Thermoreception (Littleton)  
25 Higher Order Cognitive Function and Disease (Littleton)  
26 Final Review (Littleton)  
27 [No Lecture] Final Exam

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets