Week 1 Theme: Recording Electrical Activity in Single Neurons: The Excitable Cell and Synaptic Transmission
An intensive week learning whole-cell patch clamp techniques. Although the focus will be slice based electrophysiology, students will also gain experience with the oocyte expression system and dynamic clamp techniques. By the end of week 1 students have a firm grasp of the technical aspects of patch clamping in brain slices, but also an intimate knowledge of the important biophysical foundations underlying electrophysiological recording and data interpretation. During this week students will also learn advanced stereotaxic injection techniques that are required for subsequent weeks of the course.
Week 2 Theme: Imaging of Cortical Processing and Neuronal Network Function
Students will gain both theoretical and practical knowledge to use emergent imaging and in vivo electrophysiology techniques. Students will learn the principles and application of light microscopy, as well as the use of different types of imaging systems, functional fluorophores, delivery techniques, and digital image-processing software. Laboratory practicals will involve functional imaging from living animals and brain slices, with particular emphasis on single- and two-photon microscopy. Using calcium indicators, students will record neural responses in vitro and in vivo, and will be armed with analysis tools for extracting and interpreting fluorescence signals.
Week 3 Theme: Manipulating Brain Systems and Behaviour
Students will gain insight into fundamental neuromodulatory systems operating in subcortical circuits to control behaviour and methods to interrogate system function. Students will learn how to perform stereotaxic surgery in order to manipulate subcortical systems with pharmacogenetic and optogenetic tools. Students will also learn how to design behavioural experiments, programme behavioural training equipment and train experimental animals to specific conditioning procedures. At the completion of behavioural experiments, students will conduct slice electrophysiology experiments to verify how pharmacogenetic and optogenetic tools modify single cell excitability.