PSL1047H - Advanced Topics: Somatosensory & Pain Neuroscience

Course Coordinator: M. W. Salter

The course provides a wide coverage of all aspects of the somatosensory system and deals with psychophysical studies, general somatosensory theories, receptors and primary afferents, and anatomical and electrophysiological aspects of central structures. Recent topics of interest will be discussed. The course will consist of a preliminary series of lectures to provide background material and an overview of the field, which will then be followed by presentations and discussion of original classical and current state of the art papers assigned to individual students. These papers will be chosen so as to cover most of the major topics.

During this first part of the course (4 weeks) the students are expected to learn the basics of the somatosensory system and pain from readings in textbooks, assigned papers, lectures and classroom discussions.

The first part of the course will consist of 4 weeks of lectures by the course instructors. In the subsequent 12 weeks two papers will be presented each week. Each student registered in the course will be assigned two papers (if there are more than 6 students enrolled in the course we will increase the number of papers presented to 3 and extend the duration of those sessions for a few of the last weeks and if necessary add a few more weeks to the course). In addition to the presenter there will be two students assigned as discussants for that paper. All students are expected to read all of the papers so that they will be in a position to discuss the papers during the sessions. Each presenter will have approximately 25 minutes to present the paper and each discussant up to 5 minutes. The remainder of the period will be used for general discussion of the paper and all students are expected to participate. The presentations should start with a general introduction that describes the aims of the study and how they relate to key previous papers on the subject. Usually this will take the form of a slightly expanded description of the paper's introductory section. The student is expected to read any particularly relevant papers (not necessarily but frequently may include papers that are mentioned in the assigned paper) and background material.

Students will be expected to make presentations based upon appropriate literature listed by the teaching faculty. Participation in discussions will also be required. There will be background/introductory lectures by the faculty during the first month of the course. Presentation topics will be chosen from following topics:

Topic 1: Somatosensory system physiology – tactile perception
Topic 2: Pain system primary afferents
Topic 3: Pain system central mechanisms
Topic 4: Pain system behavioural/ psychophysics

Students need not have a strong background in all topics covered. In fact, one of the major goals of the course is to broaden the interdisciplinary background of the participants.

Course in neuroscience, preferably systems neuroscience.

Oral primary presentations (2 x 25%) 50%
Each student is expected to present twice or three times, and each presentation will be assessed by at least three faculty members in the classroom.
Oral discussant presentations (4 x 10%) 40%
Participation in discussions 10%
Student participation in discussions will be assessed on the basis of his/her roles as discussants and general contribution to the in-class discussions.

Willis, W.D.,Jr. and Coggeshall, R.E. Sensory mechanisms of the spinal cord, Plenum, New York, 1991, pp. 1 575. 2nd Edition
Willis, W.D.,Jr., The Pain System. The neural basis of nociceptive transmission in the mammalian nervous system. In P.L. Gildenberg (Ed.), Pain and Headache, S.Karger, Basel, 1985, pp.1 346.
Principles of Neural Science, Kandel, Schwartz and Jessell, Elsevier, 4th edition.

Teaching Members:
Dr. Karen Davis,, IMS
Dr. Jeff Coull, (OBI)
Dr. Steve Prescott,, Physiology
Dr. Ze'ev Seltzer,, Physiology

Each faculty member will organize and provide a list of key papers for discussion before the first class, and must be present in the classroom for the presentation of his/her selected paper(s). Core members are expected to participate in a majority of classes. Other faculty may be brought into the course as topic experts on an ad hoc basis.

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