Course description
While you are reading this text, billions of neurons in your brain are electrically talking to each other. All your thoughts and movements are generated by the coordinated movement of electrically charged particles into and out of these neurons. Therefore, electricity in the brain forms the basis of who we are.
In the course “Experimental Neurophysiology – theory and practice”, you will learn about experimental techniques that you can use to measure the tiny currents and voltage changes in the brain. These range from recording signals from within single neurons by using tiny glass electrodes, to recording the summed activity of thousands of neurons simultaneously, using extracellular recording electrodes. By starting at the single neuron level, and slowly moving up to networks of neurons during the week, you will get a full overview of what we can measure, and the challenges that come with each level.
Additionally, the afternoons will consist of hands-on experiments at each of these different levels. Finally, the course will end the week with an interactive masterclass with a world-renowned expert in this field from the USA. The course will be focused on recording electrical activity in the rodent brain.
Together, this course should help you in interpreting electrophysiological experiments related to your own research project, be it in literature, seminars or discussions with peers. Additionally, we hope that it will inspire you to maybe include such experiments in your own research, or to set up collaborations with other electrophysiologists.

Specific learning goals
After following this course students will be able to:
• Describe state-of-the-art electrophysiological principles and methods.
• Indicate which electrophysiological techniques are suitable for answering research questions (single channel, single cell, network, in vivo)
• Critically evaluate research papers containing electrophysiological recordings, formulate questions about methodology and interpretation, and discuss these.
• Generate ideas about how electrophysiological techniques can enrich their research, and which techniques are most suitable.

Contents of the course
• Principles of neuronal excitability:
• Cable theory and Action Potentials
• Neuron modelling
• In vitro whole-cell patch-clamp recordings
• Synaptic transmission and plasticity
• In vivo recordings (patch-clamp, juxtacellular recording, single-unit recording)
• Optogenetics

Desired background level of participants
The course is open to all ONWAR PhD students. A solid background in general neuroscience is expected. However, we specifically encourage students with limited experience with / knowledge of experimental neurophysiology to apply. Background reading will be distributed several weeks before the course starts, with the aim to reduce the often large differences in background knowledge between students.

If applicable: difference between PhD- and master-course

Duration of the course / ECTS
40 hrs / 1,4 ECTS

The course consists mainly of Lectures and practical work. In addition, a short writing assignment and a masterclass are integrated into the course program.

Maximum number of participants

Prof.dr. Maarten Kole (NIN, UU)
Dr. Rogier Min (Amsterdam UMC - VUmc)

Year / dates next course

Program of last course
See downloadable file

Registration through
Renee Lustenhouwer (r.lustenhouwer@vu.nl)

When applying for participation, please send a short motivation by e-mail
• Why you would like to participate in the course.
• What you expect from the course.
• What is your background.