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Molecules, Cells, and Models

Instructor: Peter Jonas

Teaching Assistants: Claudia Espinoza, Jose Guzman






The goal of this course is to give an overview over molecular and cellular neuroscience and to discuss certain interesting aspects in detail at a quantitative level. The course will cover the following topics

Membranes and membrane proteins: Lipids bilayers, ion channels, receptors for various transmitters and signaling substances, and ion pumps.

Axons and excitable membranes: Ionic mechanisms of resting potential and action potential, molecular properties of voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels, and mechanisms underlying speed of propagation of action potentials.

Synapses and exocytosis: Mechanisms of transmitter release, mechanisms of postsynaptic receptor activation, comparison of synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction and at central synapses, and functional properties of electrical synapses.

Dendrites: Cable properties of dendrites, integration of excitatory and inhibitory potentials (EPSPs and IPSPs), active properties of dendrites, action potential backpropagation into the dendritic tree.

Building quantitative molecular and cellular models: Synapse models, single neuron models, and neuronal network models, usage of different computational platforms (Neuron, Mathematica, and others).

To facilitate understanding, the material is systematically presented in a bottom-up sequence. The goal is to obtain a quantitative understanding of molecular and cellular aspects of neuroscience.


The course is obligatory for students considering a PhD in any of the neuroscience groups. The course may be also interesting for cell biologists and computer scientists.


3 ECTS points

Final Grade






Schedule (subject to change)

Date Topic Location Time
November 23, 25 Membranes and membrane proteins Mondi 1 8:45–10:00
November 30, December 2 Axons and excitable membranes Mondi 1 8:45–10:00
November 30 Recitation Mondi 1 11:45–12:35
December 7, 9 Peripheral synapses and exocytosis Mondi 1 8:45–10:00
December 7 Recitation Mondi 1 11:45–12:35
December 14, 16 Central synapses and dendrites Mondi 1 8:45–10:00
December 14 Recitation Mondi 1 11:45–12:35
December 21-January 6 Christmas break    
January 11, 13 Modeling receptors, synapses Mondi 1, Mondi 3 (January 11) 8:45–10:00
January 11 Recitation Mondi 1 11:45–12:35
January 18, 20 Modeling neurons and networks; Exam week Mondi 1 8:45–10:00
January 18 Recitation Mondi 1 11:45–12:35


File Due Date
Lecture November 23, 25 n/a
Lecture November 30 n/a
Lecture December 2 n/a
Lecture December 7 & 9 n/a
Lecture December 14 & 16 n/a
Lecture January 11 & 13 n/a
Lecture January 18 & 20 n/a

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