Instructor Insights pages are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.
This page focuses on the course 9.123/20.203 Neurotechnology in Action as it was taught by associate professors Alan Jasanoff and Ed Boyden and instructor Maxine Jonas in Fall 2014.
This course offered students exposure to cutting-edge neurotechnologies as they are being developed and used by MIT laboratories. The course was designed as a series of modules, each generally consisting of a background lecture given by a faculty member or senior lab member, followed by one to two hands-on lab sessions. During the labs, students witnessed experiments, viewed instrumentation and analysis methods in operation, and interacted with scientists who were experts in the techniques.
Course Goals for Students
Students were given exceptional face-to-face contact with experts around campus. For each module, students were expected to learn to:
- understand the basic principles and practical issues,
- observe where the methods can be best applied,
- know how to gain more in-depth knowledge if and when necessary.
Permission of the instructors
9.123/20.203 is a core class of the MIT Neurobiological Engineering Training Program (NBETP) and associated Certificate Program (NBECP). Additionally, it can be applied towards a graduate degree from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences or a graduate degree from the Department of Biological Engineering.
Every fall semester
9.123/20.203 Neurotechnology in Action takes advantage of the resources on campus to build a unique course that delivers exceptional instruction on cutting-edge neurotechnology.
Below, Professor Jasanoff describes various aspects of how he, Associate Professor Boyden and Doctor Jonas designed and taught 9.123/20.203 Neurotechnology in Action.
This course is a core component of the training curriculum for MIT’s recently inaugurated Center for Neurobiological Engineering. The Center’s mission includes the advancement of education at the interfaces between neuroscience and engineering through providing students with leading edge instruction on the theoretical and practical aspects of neurotechnology.
MIT is well known for its development and use of ground-breaking neurotechnologies as well as an abundance of subject-matter experts, both faculty and senior lab members. 9.123/20.203 Neurotechnology in Action takes advantage of the resources on campus to build a unique course that delivers exceptional instruction on cutting-edge neurotechnology. The module design of the course, with a background lecture and 1-2 lab sessions for each neurotechnology, offers students opportunities to study optical imaging, optogenetics, high throughput neurobiology, MRI/fMRI, neuronal tissue engineering, viral and genetic tools, and connectomics or ex vivo neuroimaging. In addition, there are other modules that may be substituted or used in future semesters including advanced electrophysiological tools, neuronal data analysis, and automated approaches to neural experimentation. The course is also viewed as an opportunity to facilitate collaboration and “technology transfer” among diverse MIT laboratories.
The students' grades were based on the following activities:
Breakdown by Year
Graduate students, Neurobiological Engineering Training & Certificate Program participants
Breakdown by Major
Neurobiological Engineering Training & Certificate Program participants, along with students from Biological Engineering and Brain & Cognitive Sciences
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
- Met 1 time per week for 1.5 hours per session; 15 sessions total; mandatory attendance
- Lectures were presented by a subject-matter expert
- 9 sessions included a quiz at the start of the class session on material from the previous lecture/lab material
- 1 session was used to discuss the final projects
- 2 sessions were student presentations on final projects
- Met 1 time per week for 1.5 hours per session; 14 sessions total; mandatory attendance
- 13 sessions met in the laboratory of the guest lecturer to observe or perform experiments with the neurotechnology described in the lecture
- 1 session was a field trip to the lab of Professor Lichtman at Harvard
Out of Class
- Completed readings in advance of each lecture
- Prepared for quizzes on lectures and corresponding reading material
- Completed homework assignments
- Prepared final project paper and presentation