Harry MacKay Harry MacKay

NEUR4200: Seminar on Current Research in Neuroscience

I taught Carleton University’s advanced neuroscience seminar as a contract instructor in the Winter 2014 semester.  This course is intended for 4th year undergraduates in Carleton’s Neuroscience and Mental Health program.  This course was mainly intended to develop skills in writing and presenting, as well as interpreting the scientific literature. I received a teaching evaluation score of 4.83/5.00 for this semester.

Course Description (reproduced from the syllabus): In recent decades, neuroscience research has exploded in size and scope. The current range of topics that might be considered as belonging to the discipline of neuroscience is vast and becoming ever more vast as the rate of scientific progress accelerates. Many fields focus directly on the behavioural, neurobiological, and physiological correlates of pathological states such as mental illness or brain injury. These fields may be collectively referred to as the clinical sciences. On the other hand, a substantial portion of neuroscience research is concerned with the discovery and elaboration of neurobiology itself without a specifically defined clinical aim. The basic science branch of neuroscience comprises the aforementioned research fields. A third branch of neuroscience research is concerned with the development and refinement of novel techniques for studying the brain in both humans and animals. Insofar as the aims of neuroscience research are to both advance human health and to gain a deeper understanding of the brain for its own sake, all three branches have a role to play. This seminar class will focus on basic, clinical, and technical branches of neuroscience research. In most cases there will be an obvious link between basic research and clinical outcomes, in other cases the basic research will be seemingly for its own sake until a clinical application is discovered.

In this seminar style class, you will each pick a topic from the list provided below. That topic will serve as the basis for your Presentation and Term Paper. Your choice will therefore follow you through the duration of this course, and by the end of the term you will have developed a newfound expertise in your topic that will, by virtue of its obscurity at all levels of Carleton’s Neuroscience Department, be unique to you. Each of the topics has been selected for its relative novelty – very little on this list should be familiar to you. Given that one of the primary goals of seminar style classes at the 4000-level is to teach autodidacticism, providing commonplace topics would be counter to this course’s purpose.


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