Ion channels are the fundamental building blocks of excitability in the nervous system. The primary goal of this course is to demonstrate, through lectures and laboratory work, the different biophysical properties of ion channels that enable neurons to perform unique physiological functions in a variety of neural systems.
Areas of particular interest include (1) voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels at central and peripheral synapses, (2) synaptic integration and plasticity, (3) neural circuit function in vitro and in vivo and (4) optogenetic strategies for circuit manipulation. A typical day consists of morning lectures followed by hands-on laboratory practical sessions in the afternoon and evening with guest lecturers available to give one-on-one practical advice.
The laboratory component of the course introduces students to state-of-the-art electrophysiological approaches for the study of ion channels in their native environments. The course provides students with hands-on experience in using patch-clamp electrophysiology to examine single channel activity in cultured cells, ion channel biophysics in acutely dissociated neurons and synaptic integration, plasticity and circuit dynamics in in vitro slice and in vivo preparations. Different recording configurations will be used (e.g. cell-attached, whole-cell dendritic and somatic patch, voltage- and current-clamp configurations) and the advantages and limitations of each method will be discussed in relation to specific scientific questions. The course will also provide practical experience in cellular and circuit manipulation techniques (i.e. pharmacological, electrophysiological and optogenetic) both in vitro and in vivo.
Admissions priority will be given to students and postdocs that can show a demonstrated interest and specific plans to apply these techniques to a defined scientific problem.