PSL1441H - Systems Level Neuroplasticity
Changing the strength of connections between neurons has been widely assumed to be the basic mechanism by which many kinds of information are encoded and stored in the central nervous system. This course will examine the basic structure of selected sensory and motor systems with strong emphasis on cutting edge clinical research from experts at affiliated hospitals and research institutes. We will examine auditory function and developmental plasticity as it relates to cochlear implants for deaf children; and then motor physiology and function, and how it can also be enhanced by deep brain stimulation to reverse the burden of movement disorders. We will then turn to epilepsy and animal models of epilepsy showing how a focus of excitation may, via plasticity, create a hyper-exicitable network that can seize the whole body. We will then cover hippocampal memory systems in humans in the realm of epilepsy surgical therapy, followed by cortical memory systems that lead to dementia and Alzheimer's. Finally, we will explore large-scale virtual models of the brain based on new technologies in imaging. Can we model and predict diseases with a virtual brain? Students will attend both fundamental and research level lectures and should formulate from the content an essay worth 25% related to the dynamic or plastic nature of the brain, be it good, bad or both.
Lectures will be complemented by an essay on some aspect of adaptive brain change in one of these systems to be completed by the student.
Midterm worth 25%. Grade to be returned prior to the drop date.
Essay worth 25%.
Final Exam worth 50 %