PSY5101H: The neurobiology of engrams
Instructor: Paul Frankland (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Memories are thought to be encoded as enduring physical changes, or ‘engrams’, in the brain. Karl Lashley was among the first to use an empirical systematic approach in an attempt to localize an engram. Famously, his search proved unsuccessful, and his conclusion—that the engram is elusive—became widely influential. From today’s perspective, we appreciate that this elusivity is, at least in part, due to the sparse, distributed and dynamic nature of memory representations in the brain, making engrams challenging to identify and ‘pin down’ using traditional neuroscientific methods. However, new mouse genetic tools have recently been developed which provide unprecedented opportunities to visualize and manipulate defined brain regions and specific cell populations. The goal of this course is to discuss to what extent these contemporary studies have brought us closing to finding the engram.
Tuesdays 2-4 pm in Sidney Smith Hall, room 560A
Students will present and discuss recent ‘engram’ papers. For each class, 2 papers have been selected. For each paper a presenter will be assigned, as well as a discussant. The presentation should be 30-40 minutes followed by 10-15 minutes of discussion.
Non-presenters will read the papers before the class and submit a 0.5-1 page summary of each paper, including 3-4 discussion points/comments/questions. These are to be emailed to the instructor (email@example.com) no later than 11:59 pm on Monday evening.
1) Presentations (30%). Student will get to present twice during the course. Each presentation is worth 15% of the final grade.
2) Participation in class discussions (40%). This grade will be based on the weekly summaries (20%) as well as ability to lead and participate in class discussions (20%).
3) Assignments (30%). There will be two assignments. Students will write “New and Views” style commentaries (~1000 words) on recent engram papers. The first is due during reading week. The second is due at the end of term. Both contribute 15% to the final grade.
Week 1, January 12: Frankland lecture FINAL (Frankland), course organization
Historical overview of engram studies focusing on the work of Semon, Lashley and Penfield
Week 2, January 19: Seeing the engram, immediate early genes
Week 3, January 26: Seeing the engram, replay
Week 4, February 2: Erasing the engram
Week 5, February 9: Reorganizing the engram
Reading week, February 16: Assignment 1
Week 6, February 23: Distributed engrams
Week 7, March 1: Erasing pathological engrams
Week 8, March 8: Artificially expressing the engram
Week 9, March 15: Creating false engrams
Week 10, March 22: Allocation
Week 11, March 29: Interacting engrams
Week 12, April 5: Assignment 2