Course Requirements

Students who want to pursue their thesis work in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (also referred to as Neuroscience Area of Concentration) must complete a minimum of 7 credits of course work in neuroscience-related topics.


∗ Suggested core courses.
# Required course for NIH NRSA predoctoral candidates/awardees (one or the two).
‡  Required of all students.

£  Required in fall, spring, and summer semester of the first year.
§  Required in fall and spring semesters until graduation.

Students are strongly encouraged to take MEDS 5327. Credits can also be garnered from other offerings, such as Independent Study (MEDS 6495) directed by a Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty member.

Courses that apply toward the 7 credit Neuroscience Graduate Program requirement
Course Number Credits Course Name Offered
MEDS 5341 3 Molecular Neurobiology of Excitable Membranes

Ion channels play key roles in many cellular activities, such as muscle contraction, synaptic transmission, mechanical and temperature sensations, and hormone secretion. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the structure, function, and biophysical properties of all major classes of ion channels, including potassium channels, sodium channels, calcium channels, chloride channels, TRP (transient receptor potential) channels, and ligand-gated channels (e. g. acetylcholine receptors). This course will be taught mainly in the format of group discussion. Students will be assigned papers to read and questions to answer before each class. Grades will be based on participation in the class discussion as well as a presentation at the end of the semester. Many students will find this course to be very useful, especially those who plan to study either ion channels or synaptic transmission using electrophysiological approaches. Postdoctoral fellows and upper level graduate students may audit this course and participate fully in the discussions.

* MEDS 5371 3 Systems Neuroscience

This course is a part of the core series in the Neuroscience graduate program. In the earlier part, the course addresses the functional organization of the neural systems underlying sensation and movement. Sensory systems include the somatosensory, auditory, visual, vestibular, and chemosensory systems. Motor systems include the spinal cord, brain stem, cerebellum, vestibular system, oculomotor system, basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. In the later part, the course addresses complex brain systems, i.e., the autonomic systems, neuromodulator systems, and systems underlying emotion, addiction, reward, learning/memory, and speech.
Spring, first year
* MEDS 5372 3 Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Neuroscience

This one-semester course is organized in the form of (1) seminars, (2) paper discussions, and (3) laboratory exercises using computer simulations. The first part (Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience) provides an introduction to basic concepts in the study of neurophysiology and molecular neurobiology, such as neurotransmitter synthesis and release, electrical and calcium signaling, cellular basis of memory formation and neurological disease. The second part (Developmental Neurobiology) investigates the principles and mechanisms that guide the formation of the nervous system from stem cells to the complex multicellular arrays needed for function, including the understanding of genetic and molecular regulation of neuron/glia lineage decisions, axonal growth, synapse formation and developmental diseases. Cell, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience is an excellent addition to the strong stem-cell research effort at the University of Connecticut, focused on cell replacement therapies for severe neurological diseases.
Fall, first year
MEDS 5377 3 Neurobiology of Hearing

The Neurobiology of Hearing provides an introduction to the auditory system and current research in auditory neuroscience. This field is a microcosm of neuroscience, in general, and the interdisciplinary approach embodied by Neuroscience. Students will develop a detailed understanding of the peripheral and central auditory system and the neurobiological basis of sound processing. The course is taught by a faculty drawn from UConn Health and the UConn Storrs campus, the University of Salamanca and its Institute for Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins Medical School, and guest lecturers who in past years have come from the MRC in the United Kingdom and University of Pittsburgh. The diverse areas of expertise of the faculty guarantees that the students will be exposed to different aspects of auditory research and Neuroscience including synaptic physiology, neural circuitry, acoustics, auditory physiology, and behavior. The diversity also guarantees that the student will not be bored by a single professor. Students will be assessed on their classroom participation, papers, and critiques of papers. Students will receive grades based on four 1+ page papers in which they propose a hypothesis-driven experiment directly related to previous lectures in the course. Students also will be graded on their critique a paper by another student each week. There will be student presentations of research proposals the final week.

The Neurobiology of Hearing is part of the Neuroscience Study Abroad Program in Salamanca Spain, and it is taught in the summer in Spain. This course is for graduate students in Neuroscience and Hearing Research and upper level undergraduate students with majors in biology, neurobiology, audiology, biomedical engineering, or other premedical majors.

# MEDS 5383 3 Neurobiology of Disease

The purpose of the course is to introduce the topic of the “neurobiology of disease” to graduate students receiving basic neuroscience training, or any basic science student who is using models of brain disorders. We will cover a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases including the following: Stroke, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing loss, substance abuse, aging, autism spectrum disorders, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and ALS. The first session of each week will be precepted by a physician/clinician who specializes in the disorder of the week. The second session will be lead by a basic scientist who uses models of the disorder of the week.
Spring, alternates even years
* MEDS 5384 2 Brain Microcircuits

Is an upper level course for students who wish to undertake a detailed analysis of the neuronal and synaptic organization of the central nervous system. The focus of the course is the brain microcircuitry as seen in animals and man, the cell biology of the brain, gene expression, and mechanisms that govern the activity of networks of neurons. Students will learn about the relationship of structure to function and discuss the neurons and organizations that create specific brain regions. The emphasis will be on the nervous system in experimental animals used for neuroscience research. Students will have to opportunity to examine human and rodent brains, but the course assumes some prior exposure to neuroanatomy. The course is conducted in informal, small-group sessions and is designed for graduate students and upper level undergraduates who are engaged in research. Each week students are assigned a chapter in the text and lead the discussion of that chapter. Grades are based on classroom discussion and a final project or written report.
# MEDS 5385 3 Molecular Mechanisms of Neurobiological Disorders

Discussion of current papers relevant to molecular analyses of neurobiological diseases. Each week, a review article and a current research paper will be discussed in detail, with emphasis on experimental design, validity of experimental methods to address and answer key questions, and appropriateness of the molecular, biochemical or cellular model to the corresponding human disorder.
Spring, alternates odd years
MEDS 6372 2 Neurobiology of Glia

This 2-credit course will provide a detailed introduction and advanced, in-depth on specific topics related to the cellular biology and pathobiology of glia. This course will have two components. The first part of the course will be didactic lectures covering each of the types of glia in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The remainder of the course will provide focused paper discussions on the specific roles of glia in particular diseases of the nervous system that are current with recent publications and innovations in the field.


Other relevant courses
Course Number Credits Course Name
MEDS 5310 Responsible Conduct in Research
* MEDS 5375 1 Neuroscience: Current Topics/Research Methods. This 1-credit course provides a survey of statistical methods and experimental design. Topics to be covered include fundamentals of descriptive statistics and inferential data analyses including normal distribution, correlation and regression analyses and ANOVA. This course will focus on the application, utility and shortcomings of experimental designs and data analyses and interpretation. Data presentation and use of statistics in scientific writing will also be covered.
MEDS 5327 3 The Biochemical and Genetic Language (“Logics”) of Modern Biology. This course covers the fundamental biochemical and genetic principles that underlie all areas of modern biology. The biochemistry and genetics of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes are addressed. Reading and discussion of papers in the literature is an important element of the course.
MEDS 6447 3 Presentation of Scientific Data
MEDS 6450 3 Optical Microscopy and Bio-imaging
MEDS 6495 Variable Independent Study
£ MEDS 6596 1 Laboratory Rotations are scheduled for fall, spring, and summer semesters of the first year in a laboratory of the student’s choice. This 1 credit practical training course allows students to choose from a wide range of research projects pursued in the labs of Neuroscience AoC faculty and exposes them to both the background knowledge of a specific area of neuroscience as well as techniques employed in research. They are graded by their performance, level of enthusiasm for the research project and how well they use the resources of the lab pertinent to the project.
§ GRAD 6950 1-9 Doctoral Research
 § MEDS 6497 1 Neuroscience Journal Club. Registration is required each semester for the duration of the dissertation research.


In order to remain in good standing, students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 per the guidelines of the University of Connecticut Graduate School.

Additional course descriptions may be found in the Graduate Course Catalog.