Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 3 hours / session

Course Overview

9.013J / 7.68J is an introductory course for graduate students aimed at providing a synthetic overview of major principles and techniques associated with cellular and molecular neurobiology. Subject matter is intended to range from the detailed mechanics underlying neuronal signaling and cellular function to how these properties are invoked across development and during plasticity.

The course involves a series of overview lectures by a leading researcher in the field, complemented by recitation opportunities on primary research papers for students. By offering a thorough introduction to the current status of the discipline while emphasizing critical thinking, 9.013J / 7.68J aims to prepare students for an exciting and rapid beginning to their contributions as neuroscientists and biologists.


The first 1.5 hours will be lecture, followed by a reasonable break, while during the final 45 minutes or so a student will foster an interactive discussion on a related research paper. The requirement for this course consists of coming to class having done all of the reading assigned for that day's topic, being prepared to participate in the discussion and giving at least one presentation of an assigned paper along with an adequate introduction.

We hope you will enjoy the class and look forward to coming!


This year we will be using the textbook:

Levitan, Irwin B., and Leonard K. Kaczmarek. The Neuron: Cell & Molecular Biology. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780195145236.


Two exams (30% each) 60%
Presentation 20%
Attendance and class participation 20%



MCP = Prof. Martha Constantine-Paton
MS = Prof. Morgan Sheng
Chip Q = Prof. William Quinn

1 Ion channels I MS
2 Ion channels II MS
3 Receptors I MS
4 Receptors II MS
5 Introduction; basics of electrophysiology MCP
6 Modulation of receptor activity MCP
7 Protein targeting, signaling complexes MS
8 Neuronal polarity / subcellular specialization MS
9 Repertoire of neuron interactions MCP
10 Neurogenesis Li-Huei Tsai
11 Presynaptic mechanisms MS
  Mid-term exam  
12 Molecular manipulation of neural circuits Susan Su (Introduction)
13 Axon guidance Davie van Vactor (Harvard)
14 Synapse formation/elimination MCP
15 Trophic factors MCP
16 Postsynaptic mechanisms; LTP/LTD MS
17 Waves and chemoaffinity MCP
18 Two faces of GABA MCP
19 Hodgkin and Huxley (lecture 1) Chip Q
20 Hodgkin and Huxley (lecture 2) Chip Q
21 Aplysia learning Chip Q
22 Drosophila learning Chip Q
23 Drosophila circadian rhythms Chip Q
24 Epilepsy MCP
  Final exam