Development of the Nervous System
Course Number: NEURL-UA 305
Pre or Co-requisite: NEURL-UA 210 (Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology)
Description: The development of the nervous system is a unique field of study because it requires us to synthesize information from most areas of biology. These include everything from genetics through animal behavior. The course begins by considering the maturation of behavioral milestones that we seek to explain at the level of neural mechanism. The nervous system emerges from a stem cell population which ultimately creates an enormous diversity of neuron and glial cell types. In mammals, approximately 1011 neurons come to be precisely connected to one another as growing neuronal process are guided to their correct targets by a series of molecular cues. Even after these specific connections are attained, there occurs a dramatic change in their function and connectivity. During this period of developmental plasticity, the nervous system is influenced by environmental experiences, and this process can shape adult behavioral abilities. Finally, we will consider how normal developmental mechanisms can be disrupted, leading to severe neurological disorders that last a lifetime.