9.14 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Brain Structure and Its Origins


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week; 1 hour / session

Course Description

This course provides an outline of vertebrate functional neuroanatomy, aided by studies of comparative neuroanatomy and evolution, and by studies of brain development. Topics include early steps to a central nervous system, basic patterns of brain and spinal cord connections, regional development and differentiation, regeneration, motor and sensory pathways and structures, systems underlying motivations, innate action patterns, formation of habits, and various cognitive functions. In addition, lab techniques are reviewed and students perform brain dissections.


9.01 Introduction to Neuroscience


Quizzes and homework 35
Class participation portion of quizzes and homework
Midterm exam 25
Final exam 40


1–2 Introduction: brain orientation, primitive cellular activities  
3–4 Steps to the CNS of chordates  
5–6 Introduction to the pre-mammalian brain; specializations; overview of forebrain structures  
7–8 Completion of forebrain structures. CNS development and anatomy HW 1 due before Lecture 6
9 Autonomic nervous system. Differentiation of the brain vesicles: Intro to hindbrain and segmentation  
10 Differentiation of the brain vesicles: Hindbrain & cranial nerves, specializations HW 2 due before Lecture 9
11 Differentiation of the brain vesicles: Developmental distortions; evolution of midbrain & forebrain; midbrain organization  
12 Differentiation of the brain vesicles: Vertebrate forebrain evolution & organization  
13–14 CNS differentiation: Axon growth  
15–18 Motor systems, brain states; review

HW3 worksheets due before Lecture 18

HW4 due before Lecture 18

19 Midterm Exam Exam
20 Sheep brain dissection (Appropriate lab attire required). Taste and olfactory systems (readings only).  
21–23 Visual systems HW5 due before Lecture 23 
24–25 Auditory and related sensory systems  
26 Forebrain evolution  
27–29 Hypothalamus and limbic system, part 1  
30 Hormonal and other influences on brain development and plasticity  
31 Hippocampal formation  
32 Amygdala and other aspects of limbic forebrain  
33–34 Corpus striatum HW6 due before Lecture 33
35–37 Neocortex HW7 due before Lecture 36
38 Plasticity in brain connections; Review  

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Lecture Audio
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes
Instructor Insights