Experimental Methods in Synaptic Physiology
In this seminar and lab course, a small number of students meet to discuss topics in synaptic physiology and to become proficient at sharp electrode techniques for intracellular recording, using isolated ganglia from the snail Heliosoma. The first part of each class will consist of discussion of reading from the primary literature, with the remainder of the class devoted to hands-on experiments. After learning to record from and characterize single neurons, students will study synaptic transmission by stimulating incoming nerve trunks or by recording from pairs of interconnected neurons. As a midterm assignment, students will prepare and present a short research proposal using this model system, to be evaluated by the class. For the last half of the course, the class will work together on one or two of these proposals, meeting at the end of each class to pool the data, analyze the results and discuss their significance.