in class, Tue May 2
PLEASE BE ON TIME!
Brain, Behavior & Info Processing
MCB 419 Syllabus
This course explores the neural basis of animal behavior. The emphasis is on the information processing problems that animals face in natural environments and how nervous systems have evolved to solve these problems. The course emphasizes computer modeling and simulation as tools for exploring principles of nervous system design and function. Current literature in computational neurobiology and neuroethology will be incorporated in readings and class discussion.
Outline of course content
Reading material is drawn from a variety of sources, including book chapters, review articless, journal articles and conference proceedings. There is no required text.
Most of the time in the classroom will be spent doing HANDS-ON computer modeling and simulation taks, both individually and working collaboratively in small groups. You will need to bring a laptop with you to every class. You are expected to do preperatory work BEFORE COMING TO CLASS. This may include completing assigned readings, watching video lectures, reviewing powerpoint slides, and doing simple programming exercises at home.
Evaluation and Grading
Your grade is based on a combination of class participation, preparation, programming assignments, a midterm exam and a final project.
Class participation/preparation (20%): You are expected to attend class regularly, be prepared, and be on time. To reinforce these expectations, there will be in-class programming tasks, mini-quizzes, group exercises, other activities that will be logged and count toward your participation/preparation grade at the end of the semester.
Weekly Assignments (40%): Starting in week 3, there will be ten weekly programming assignments. These are graded on a 4-point scale. Each assignment will list its due date. Most will be due Tuesdays at 9 pm. Each student will have a total of five “free” late days (a late day is 24 hours of lateness). There are no partial days, so assignments are either on time, 1 day late, 2 days late, etc. Once the five free late days are used up, each successive late day will result in a loss of 1 point.
Midterm exam (20%): A midterm exam will be given before spring break covering both conceptual material and programming techniques.
Final project (20%): A final modeling project will integrate conceptual principles and programming techniques, with emphasis on neural-inspired mechanisms of learning and adaptation. Points will be assigned based on the quality of the project, an in-class oral presentation, and peer evaluations.
Final grade: Your final grade is based on a weighted sum of the above criteria. Scoring in the top 33% of the class guarantees an A; scoring in the top 66% guarantees a B. (The actual fraction of As and Bs awarded may be higher, but this is a guaranteed minimum).