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MCELLBI W61: Brain, Mind, and Behavior

Summer 2022 Syllabus

Course Format: Online

Three (3) semester credits

Course Description

The human brain is the most complex structure in the known universe.     The study of its structure and function and how it figures into our actions  and mental experience is among the most exciting projects of modern      science. This class begins with molecules and cells, builds up to brains and nervous systems, encompasses neural signaling, sensory perception,        memory, language, and emotion, and culminates with the great mystery   of how brain processes relate to consciousness and mental experience —  that is, how the mind is related to the brain. This is a comprehensive        introduction to the exciting subject of contemporary neuroscience, open to all interested students. This course runs in Session A from May 23-July 1.


There are no prior course requirements.

Course Learning Objectives

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

Identify major events in the history of neuroscience.

Identify major anatomical regions and structures in the human brain.

●    Demonstrate the ability to interpret the components of structure diagrams of organic molecules.

●    Communicate the major steps in nerve signaling - along an axon and between cells.

●    Describe the major categories of psychoactive drugs, what they are known to do in the nervous system, and how they impact the mind.

●    Describe the major channels of human sensory perception and, for each, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of sensory reception.

Describe the major methods of structural and functional brain imaging.

●    Describe several ways in which to continue to investigate the nature of mind and how it is related to the brain.

Instructor Communication

Course Instructor

David E. Presti, [email protected]

UC Berkeley website: http://mcb.berkeley.edu/labs2/presti/

Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs)

While the instructor will interact with the entire class and will oversee all   activities and grading, as well as being available to resolve any issues that may arise, the GSIs will be your main point of contact. Your GSI is           responsible for assisting you directly with any questions you may have     about assignments and course requirements, as outlined in the                Assignments and Calendar. The GSIs will also facilitate ongoing discussion and interaction with you on major topics in each module.

GSI: Patricia Kubala

GSI: Harrison Rappaport

Office Hours/Course Help

You’re not alone in this course; the instructor and GSIs are here to         support you as you learn the material. It's expected that some aspects of this course will take time to grasp, and the best way to grasp challenging material is to ask questions.

The course instructor and GSIs will offer virtual office hours, when            students can communicate real time (synchronously) using Zoom. While   these are optional (no points awarded for participation), they are valuable forums for discussion, Q&A, and review. Check the course Announcements for office hour times, which may vary from week to week. Links to the      appropriate Zoom meeting will be available in bCourses.

Course Mail

You can also contact your GSI and instructor using the bCourses emailing  system, accessed via your Inbox (in global navigation on the left). You can

also choose to have your bCourses mail forwarded as text (SMS) or to your personal email.

Students with Disabilities

If you require course accommodations due to a physical, emotional, or      learning disability, contact UC Berkeley's Disabled Students' Program (DSP). Notify the instructor and GSI through course email of the               accommodations you would like to use. You must have a Letter of            Accommodation on file with UC Berkeley to have accommodations made in the course.

UC Berkeley is committed to providing robust educational experiences for all learners. With this goal in mind, we have activated the ALLY tool for    this course. You will now be able to download reading materials in a         format that best fits your learning preference (i.e., PDF, HTML, EPUB, and MP3). For more information, visit the alternative formats link or watch the video entitled, "Ally in bCourses. ”

Course Materials and Technical Requirements

Textbook/Required Materials

Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience: A Brain-Mind Odyssey

by David E. Presti (2016).

It is essential that you read the textbook to take this course. The module quizzes, midterm exam, and final exam are based largely on your reading and understanding of the material in the book.

Additional Materials

Youll find links to additional reading materials in bCourses.

Technical Requirements

This course is built on a Learning Management System (LMS) called    Canvas (UC Berkeley’s instance of Canvas is called bCourses). You will need to meet these computer specifications to participate within this online platform.

Technical Support

If you are having technical difficulties, please alert your GSI immediately. However, understand that neither the GSI, nor the instructor can assist   you with technical problems. You must call or email tech support to         resolve any issues.

To contact tech support, click on the "Help" button on the bottom left of the global navigation menu in bCourses. Be sure to document all          interactions (e.g., save emails and transaction numbers).

Learning Activities and Assignments

You are expected to fully participate in all the course asynchronous           activities described here. This course is designed to provide a survey of    mind, brain, and behavior, with an emphasis on humans. Learning           activities have been designed to accommodate diverse learning                preferences and build a community of learners. All times listed are Pacific Time (PT)— please adjust for your time zone. If you prefer, you can set your own time zone to display throughout bCourses. Learning activities for this course include the following:

1. Read the assigned textbook chapters.

2. Review the study materials and practice quizzes.

3. Read web-based announcements and postings throughout the course.

4. Compose and post assigned responses to homework and discussions.

5. Complete the module quizzes, midterm exam, and final exam.

6. Complete writing assignments.

7. Optional: Watch video lectures, recorded in Spring 2021.


For grading purposes, each of you has been assigned to one GSI and        placed within their section. Your particular GSI will grade all of your work, as well as that of your section-mates, and engage with you in the course  discussions. You can see whose section you've been placed in by exploring the "Section" column within the "People" page or by examining your         discussion group's title, which includes your GSI's name.


A module is a grouping of topics related to one area of study, typically     including readings, videos, and other kinds of resources and assignments. For an at-a-glance view of due dates and projects, refer to the course      Calendar and/or the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in bCourses.

Reading Assignments and Study Materials

As you read the assigned chapters, check for associated study materials under the chapter tabs on the Module pages. The module’s Key Concepts and other study materials provide an overview to assist you in focusing  your study for assignments and exams.


Each week, you’ll find lectures that provide important information and    insights on the week’s topics. You are required to engage with all lecture materials and will be responsible for addressing the concepts in your      course assignments.

Optional Video Lectures

The normally in-person version of MCB 61 offered in Spring semesters was taught online by David Presti during Spring 2021. Recorded lectures         corresponding to material in each of the textbook chapters have been       added to the website of MCB W61 as material for optional viewing. The     relevant lecture recordings are accessible within each of the modules.

Homework Assignments (20%)

Students are asked to complete four writing assignments based upon the readings and weekly study materials. Detailed instructions for the          homework are provided on module pages and within those components.

IMPORTANT: Homework and discussion assignments turned in late but   within 24 hours of the due date/time will receive HALF credit. Assignments turned in more than 24 hours after the due date/time will receive ZERO    points, but will still be credited as having been turned in.

You must turn in all four of the homework assignments and participate in all of the weekly discussion forums in order to

receive better than a "C-" grade in the class, or to receive a P grade in the class if you are taking the class P/NP.

Discussion Forums (30%)

Weekly Discussion Forums

Each module contains a group discussion in which we ask you to write    reflectively and critically about the discussion topic. Your posts and        responses are considered your class participation and represent a unique opportunity for you to exchange views with your group-mates, share      experiences and resources, and enhance and ensure your understanding of the course material.

Discussion groups have been pre-assigned and include other members of your GSI’s section. When you navigate to a discussion forum, you will     automatically be taken to your group's instance of that discussion and to your group's space within the course. When finished with the discussion, you will need to navigate from your group space back to the main course space in order to continue participating in other aspects of the course.

While the Discussion Forum assignments are asynchronous (not real        time), you will be expected to make an initial posting by 11:59 pm          Thursday (PT) and to respond to at least one other student's postings by 11:59 pm Sunday (PT); continued participation throughout the remainder of the week is highly encouraged. See the instructions within each           discussion forum for further guidelines. Timely discussion posts are important to foster debate, and late postings will receive reduced credit in the same fashion as for Homework Assignments. See       details in the segment on "Homework Assignments."

Neuroscience Sharing and Discussion Forum

Please use this forum to share interesting questions and material you encounter with one another, the instructor, and the GSIs. The

instructor/GSIs will monitor this forum, but you should also feel free to post answers to help other students. This helps to create a general FAQ so that  all students in the course may benefit from the exchange.

Student Lounge

The Student Lounge forum is a place to connect with one another for study groups and other activities.

Report Errors in the Textbook and Website

Please look through the posts on this discussion, and if you spot additional errors, post them here.

Quizzes and Exams: General Policy

For the Quizzes, and the Midterm and Final Exams, there is a 24-hour          window during which you may take the quiz or exam to accommodate          students who are in different time zones, some on the other side of the        planet. It will also accommodate students whose access to a quiet space       with good internet connectivity may be limited to certain times of the day.    Within this window of time, you will be allowed one attempt and a set          duration of time (specific to each quiz and exam) in which to take the quiz or exam. The clock starts as soon as you open the quiz or exam.

We ask that you not confer with anyone while taking a quiz or exam, or discuss test questions with classmates at any time during the day of    administration. We also ask that you not take screenshots, photos, or   otherwise make copies of quiz or exam questions.

HONESTY AND INTEGRITY: We are trusting you to act with honesty and integrity, in accordance with the Campus Honor Code: "As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for        others."

We very strongly recommend that you learn the course content well enough to take the Quizzes and Exams without referring to the textbook or to your notes. That said, you are permitted to refer to your

notes, book, and other study material in taking the quizzes that is, they are open book/notes quizzes and exams.

The exams in particular are designed so that if you know the material, you will be able to complete the exams within the time provided. However, if you don't know the material and you attempt to spend your time looking everything up, you will likely run short of time. So, best to study, to enjoy the learning, and take some real benefit    away from this class over and above simply checking off a box on your        course requirements.

If you have a Letter of Accommodation at UC Berkeley, confirm with your  GSI that it has been received and accommodations have been made. When you start a quiz or exam in bCourses, check the timer when you open it to confirm you have the correct time accommodation. This applies to all         quizzes and exams in the course.

Practice Quizzes (0%)

Each chapter's study materials include a practice quiz. The questions are  similar to those in the module quiz and in the midterm and final exams.   When you complete a practice quiz, you will be able to check your results, but the practice quizzes are not graded.

Quizzes (15%)

Modules 1-5 include a quiz that must be completed at the end of the module. Refer to the Calendar for all due dates. The due date/time for the module quizzes is in every case the Monday following the completion of the module at 12 Noon. (For two of the module quizzes, the Monday due date  falls on a national and academic holiday, Memorial Day and Juneteenth. For  these two cases the due date has been extended for an additional day, until  Tuesday.) You may take the quiz only once and have a set period of time to  complete each quiz. (See each quiz for details.) If you miss a quiz, you will   be allotted 0 points for that quiz, and there will be no make-up quizzes.

Midterm Exam (15%)

You will complete a midterm exam in Module 3. The exam covers the          material from Modules 1-3 and Chapters 1-10 of the textbook, and consists of 75 multiple-choice questions just like the questions you have been seeing in the weekly quizzes and practice quizzes. The exam has a time limit (80   minutes), and you must take it within the prescribed 24-hour window. The

midterm exam will be administered on the course website from Thursday, June 9, 8 a.m., to Friday, June 10, 8 a.m. (PT).

Final Exam (20%)

The final exam will be comprehensive and cover course material from the   entire 6-week semester: Modules 1-6 (Chapters 1-22 of the textbook). The final exam will be available for a 24-hour period beginning at 8 AM (PT) Wednesday, June 29, 2022 and closing at 8 AM Thursday, June 30, 2022. As with the midterm exam, during that 24-hour period you will have a fixed time limit to take the exam.


There will be no make-up exams. You must pass the final examination in     order to receive a C- or better letter grade in the class, or a P grade, if you  are taking the class P/NP. That is, passing the final exam is necessary in      order to receive a satisfactory passing grade for the class. If you miss taking the final or try to take it in a manner for which you have not received          permission, you will fail the class automatically.

Grading Policies

Your final course grade will be calculated as follows:

Table 1: Final Grade Percentages


Percentage of Grade


Homework Assignments (5% x 4 assignments)


Late assignments receive half or 0 points

Discussions Assignments (6% x 5 assignments)


Late postings receive

reduced points

Module Quizzes (3% x 5 quizzes)


No makeup quiz


Percentage of Grade


Midterm Exam


Open book, open note, no collaboration, no makeup exam

Final Exam


Open book, open note, no collaboration, no makeup exam

Late Work Policy

It will not be possible to receive better than a C- letter grade in the class without turning in all four of the written homework assignments and participating in all the discussion forums. This is the case no matter what % score you have. If you are taking the course pass/no pass, you must turn in all the homework and participate in all the discussion forums in order to pass the course. Even if you turn them in late (and therefore receive zero points), you still need to turn in all assignments in order to get better than a C- or a NP.

The point ranges for the various letter grades will be determined at the end of the semester after all exams and other graded materials have been         evaluated. In past years, it has generally been the case that 90% and above is the A-range and 80% and above is the B-range. The C, D, and F ranges   are more variable and will depend on the range of scores that occur among  the students this session. However, the C/D boundary is never greater than 70%, and the D/F boundary is never greater than 60%.

Your letter grade in the course will be determined according to absolute       standards of performance, which hopefully relate to your acquisition of        knowledge and understanding of the material. You will not be competing      against fellow students in the sense that we do not force letter grades to      conform to a predetermined distribution. If everyone does extremely well,    everyone could receive an "A" grade. If everyone does poorly (highly           unlikely, as this has never happened in my 25 years of teaching this            subject), then everyone could get a low grade. Rather than devoting energy to worrying about where grade cut-offs are, if you are truly interested in this subject and in getting the most from this class, we urge you to take the       material seriously from the beginning, do the readings, and really make an

effort to learn the material. Your efforts will be rewarded with deep            knowledge and understanding of some truly fascinating topics. Good grades will be a side effect.