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NSCI 483 Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

NSCI 483 Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

 Summer 2023 (Online), Fall 2023 (Blended), Winter 2024 (Blended & Online)
 Year 4 Optional Course
 9-10 hours/week
 3 units
Online Course

NSCI 483, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory is an exploration of brain systems underlying how we learn and remember, and how they become disordered. Online multimedia modules and study of cutting-edge research articles reveal how modern techniques and ideas are driving neuroscience forward. Students will also do an in-depth analysis of a neurological disorder of learning and/or memory, and may interview a person with a disorder in order to learn how they may advocate for them in society.

Minimum 4th year (Level 4) standing and one of (PHGY 210/6.0; PHGY 214/6.0; [PHGY 215/3.0 and PHGY 216/3.0]; PSYC 271/3.0) or permission of the instructor

Online format with materials, communication, and assignment submissions all via BrightSpace (onQ)

After completing NSCI 483, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic principles of learning and memory processes in order to communicate how they are generated by the brain at a cellular, systems, and behavioural level.
  2. Critically evaluate primary research reports and reviews in order to contextualize and communicate current knowledge in the field of learning and memory.
  3. Collaborate with others in order to effectively collect, analyze, and interpret scientific data.
  4. Communicate an integrated understanding of the scientific basis and societal impact of neurological disorders of learning and memory to colleagues in order to advocate for vulnerable populations. 
  5. Demonstrate skill in providing and responding to feedback in a professional manner.
  1. Communicator
  2. Advocate
  3. Leader
  4. Scholar
  5. Professional
  6. Collaborator
  7. Content Expert

All assessments will be graded using marking rubrics.

Assessment 1 – Module Quizzes (10%; 5 x 2%)

To demonstrate their integration of knowledge learned throughout the course, at the end of 6 of the 7 modules, students will complete a check-point quiz to test their mastery of the facts and concepts covered. Quizzes are to be completed after each module and are made up of multiple-choice questions and a short answer question. Successful completion of these quizzes will allow the student to demonstrate their understanding of core concepts in the field of neuroscience in relation to learning and memory at the cellular, systems, and behavioral levels. The lowest quiz mark will be dropped.

Assessment 2 – Living Lab (5%)

Students will collaborate within small groups to test a simple hypothesis about memory using an online cognitive testing website for data collection and then generate a collaborative short scientific report of their findings. Successful completion of this assignment will demonstrate students’ understanding of the scientific method, as well as communication and critical thinking skills. This assignment will provide students with a strong base to successfully review content and scientific articles presented throughout the course.

Assessment 3 – Critical Analysis of Primary Literature (40%)

With each learning module, students will be presented with primary research papers that delve deeply into the thematic areas explored. For all primary research papers, save for one, students will be responsible for writing a short reflective analysis of the content (10%). At a pre-determined time in the semester, students will be assigned one primary research paper to conduct a thorough critical analysis done with a partner (30%). This analysis will be presented in a live presentation over video conferencing to the instructor and/or teaching assistants, followed by an individually graded question and answer period. Students will then have the opportunity to improve their presentation before sharing a final version with audio narration. The top presentation for a given article will then be shared with the class and constitute testable learning material for the the Final Exam. 

Assessment 4 – Neurological Disorder Advocacy Assignment (25%)

The purpose of this assignment is to enable students to better understand the experience of people living with a neurological disorder that affects learning and memory, by both studying the disorder and considering how to advocate for an individual living with that disorder. There are two streams for this assignment:

1) Interview/Advocacy Focus - In this stream the student will write a brief, scholarly review of the disorder. Further, the student will develop a short interview questionnaire and administer it to a chosen individual (or caregiver if appropriate) to learn how their neurological disorder affects their daily lives, and using this information, the student will develop an advocacy plan to address some of the gaps identified in the interview process.

2) Disorder Review Focus - In this stream, the student will write an in-depth, scholarly review of the disorder of interest, and then write a short, general advocacy report for individuals with that disorder. 

Assessment 5 – Final Exam (20%)

The final exam will consist of well-designed short answer questions and an essay question, aimed at problem solving and assimilating knowledge learned throughout the course, to demonstrate mastery of learning module content and the primary research articles analyzed as part of Assessment 3

9–10 hours a week (108–120 hours per term).

NSCI 483 course notes via modules posted online and relevant primary literature will be provided by the instructor