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In addition to the NUIN courses below, excellent relevant elective courses may be found in many non-NUIN programs. Students are encouraged to explore current listings available at the following links: DGP, IBiS, Psychology, BME, CSD and Statistics, among others. Students may also take undergraduate courses approve for graduate credit. A list of approved undergraduate courses can be found here. A full list of elective courses that NUIN students have taken in the last five years can be found here


 NUIN 401-1,2,3 Fundamentals of Neuroscience

1 unit; required for NUIN students

This course fulfills the Fundamentals Core Class requirement for first-year graduate students in the NUIN program. Lectures and discussion sections are organized by class module directors, lectures and discussion sections are team-taught.

NUIN students come from a diverse range of academic backgrounds, including computer science, chemistry, engineering, physics, psychology, neuroscience and biology. The Fundamentals of Neuroscience series is designed to embrace this diversity while also providing intensive training in the basics of neuroscience. At the end of this series, students should have the same level of understanding of fundamental neuroscience.

  • NUIN 401-1 (1 unit; fall quarter): This course covers neurogenetics/cell biology and neural development/signaling pathways.
  • NUIN 401-2 (1 unit; winter quarter): This course covers cellular neurophysiology and sensory systems.
  • NUIN 401-3 (1 unit; spring quarter): This course covers motor systems and cognitive neuroscience.

 NUIN 407 NUIN Graduate Foundations (Pitman-Leung)
1 unit; offered every year; required for first year NUIN students

NUIN Graduate Foundations provides an introduction to academia, graduate school,
Northwestern, and NUIN. At the end of the class, students will have a basic understanding of
what to expect during graduate school, and how to use existing resources to help them be

 NUIN 408: Statistics and Data Analysis for Neuroscience (TBD)

1 unit; next offered TBD

The goal of this new elective is to provide students with basic training in experimental design and in quantitative methods used to analyze many kinds of data obtained with a variety of techniques. The course will be divided into three components focusing on Probability and Statistics, Linear Systems and Signal Analysis. Examples will be drawn from a range of research areas from molecular to cellular to systems-level neuroscience. This course will be team taught and coordinated with NUIN 401-3, meeting immediately afterward on the same campus.

 NUIN 411-1 Great Experiments in Molecular & Developmental Neuroscience (Elbaz-Eilon)

1 unit; next offered Spring 2025

The general aim of the course is to fill the informational and intellectual gap in the current formal curriculum between the basic overview of this topic provided by the first-year core course (NUIN 401) and the highly focused, often recent material covered in special topics courses taken as electives. In this course, students will read and discuss classic papers that generated concepts that form the basis for our understanding of development, function and diseases of the nervous system at the molecular/genetic level.

 NUIN 411-2 Great Experiments in Cellular Neurophysiology (Raman)

1 unit; next offered TBD

The general aim of the course is to fill the informational and intellectual gap in the current formal curriculum between the basic overview of cellular neurophysiology and biophysics provided by the first-year core course (NUIN 401) and the highly focused, often recent material covered in special topics courses taken as electives. In this course, students will read and will be guided through written problem sets (before class) and discussions (within class) of a series of classic papers in cellular neuroscience.

 NUIN 411-3 Great Experiments in Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience (Kozorovitskiy, Miri)

1 unit; offered every year

The general aim of the course is to fill the gap between the basic overview of Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience provided by the first-year core course (NUIN 401) and the highly focused, often recent material covered in special topics courses taken as electives. Students will read a series of classic papers in systems and cognitive Neuroscience.

 NUIN 414 Finding Your Voice as a Scientist (TBD)
1 unit; offered every year

The class will provide training to help students find their individual voices to communicate science effectively and passionately in both oral and written forms. The class will teach scientific storytelling in various formats, including short elevator pitches, abstracts, poster presentations, oral presentations with and without visual aids (including the Chalk Talk format used in the NUIN Qualifying Exams), and longer form grant applications.


The class is a training and professional skills-building activity that will support students at all levels of familiarity with and comfort in oral presentation. Pass/no pass will place the emphasis on participation and engagement.

 NUIN 417 Neurodegeneration: Alzheimer’s Disease as a Case Study (Klein)

1 unit; offered every year

This discussion course considers neuroscience research into the cause and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. AD is the greatest cause of dementia and is being intensively investigated. The odds of getting the disease are 1 in 5 for a woman and 1 in 8 for a man. Presently, AD has no effective therapeutics and lacks clear-cut diagnostics. Progress in discovering disease mechanisms, however, is exciting, and it illustrates the importance of understanding fundamental neuroscience. Topics germane to AD that can be considered over the quarter include neuropathology; human genetics; structural biology; transgenic modeling; synapse morphology and function; plasticity and memory; brain cell biology and signaling mechanisms; epigenetics; brain imaging; nanotechnology; vaccine development; drug discovery; and gene therapy. Overall, AD provides a case study for other neurological disorders, and its mechanisms appear relevant to Parkinson’s, prionoses, Huntington’s, traumatic brain injury, stroke, mental retardation and other conditions. Beyond dealing with the cause, diagnosis and treatment of AD, the course is designed for students to practice and improve skills in presentation, organization of facts, writing and grantsmanship.

 NUIN 424 Sensory Transduction and Early Visual Processing (Schwartz, DeVries)

1 unit; offered in alternate years; next offered Fall 2024

This course focuses on the first stages of the reception and processing of sensory information in the nervous system. While we will survey the mechanosensory, olfactory and auditory systems in one class each, we will go into greater depth in our coverage of the early visual system. Each three-hour session will be lead by an expert in the field. We will begin with a brief introduction to the topic, and the rest of the time will be spent on a detailed discussion of two to four papers from the primary literature, a mixture of classics and modern advances. Participation is required, and students will be evaluated based on demonstrating a critical understanding of the assigned papers.

 NUIN 433 Neurobiology of Disease (Ozdinler, Opal)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered Spring 2026

This is a survey course aiming to orient graduate students in Neuroscience or related disciplines to important neurological diseases and general aspects of related research. For every session, a neurological clinician presents an hour of material aimed at oriented the students to the disease process in question (for example, multiple sclerosis), which is followed by a second lecture given by a basic scientist focused on a relatively narrow research question. Papers are discussed in a second session related to the research question. The examination consists of writing a small NIH-style grant on a neuroscience research question.

 NUIN 436 Drugs and the Brain (Kearney, Parisiadou)
1 unit; offered every year

Graduate neuropharmacology course with a mix of didactic instruction (33%) and in-depth classroom discussion of primary research papers (66%). The course is not a survey course, but rather will cover selected topics in neuropharmacology with the goals of 1) informing the student of the latest neuropharmacology knowledge, 2) inculcating a rigorous approach to examination of the scientific literature, and 3) encouraging best practices in experimental design.

 NUIN 440 Advanced Neuroanatomy (Baker, Perkins)

1 unit; offered every year

Designed to provide a fundamental understanding of neuroanatomy, this course considers the nervous system from both structural and functional perspectives, resulting in an integrated view of the brain. In addition to lectures and demonstrations, half the time is devoted to laboratory exercises in which students view histological sections and participate in the dissection of a human brain. This course extends over only seven weeks of the quarter.

 NUIN 441 Biophysical Signal Processing for Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences (Acosta)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered Winter 2025

Students in this course learn how to collect and analyze kinematic, kinetic and electrophysiological data associated with the neuromusculoskeletal system. Emphasis is on understanding and implementing time and frequency domain signal processing methods important for analyzing movement data. Students develop and implement the signal processing tools using Matlab. This course is not intended for engineering graduate students to replace complete courses in signal processing.

 NUIN 442 Issues in Movement and Rehabilitation Science (Dewald, Tysseling)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered TBD

This course emphasizes literature on contemporary issues pertaining to key principles and models in the field of movement and rehabilitation science. In the first half of the course, theoretical, biological, physical, behavioral and computational approaches to understanding the control of movement in the context of rehabilitation are explored. These building blocks are then applied to analysis of common disorders of movement control and contemporary and evolving therapeutic approaches used in rehabilitation. Topics include stroke, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders, cerebellar disease, cerebral palsy, sensory disorders, aging and muscle and joint pathologies.

 NUIN 455 Instrumentation for Neuroscience (Baker)

1 unit; offered every year

This is a practical course in electronics and mechanical instrumentation ranging from Ohm’s law, power supplies and fasteners to machining, microprocessors and computers. We cover the basics of instrumentation theory, design, construction, use, repair and safety. We emphasize basic machine shop practices and basic to intermediate-level applications of active electronics devices (integrated circuits or ICs). No prior knowledge is required.

 NUIN 470 Cellular and Molecular Basis of Information Storage (Parker)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered Spring 2025

This is a literature-based course designed to give students a framework to understand the current state of our knowledge about the cellular to system basis for information processing and storage. Weekly classes will be facilitated by faculty experts in specific areas of neural plasticity and information storage. Students will read papers assigned by the lecturer before each class and submit two relevant questions to for each paper (to then be discussed in class). Thus, seminal papers on each topic will be considered in class, whilst an overview of the important questions will be provided by the faculty facilitator. In each lecture consideration will be given how the information reviewed can be translated to problems related to issues of mental health.

 NUIN 473 Mechanisms of Aging and Dementia (Vassar, Weintraub)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered Spring 2025

This course is designed to familiarize the student with aging and age-related dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontal lobe dementias and Parkinson’s disease. Lectures will be given on incidence, diagnostics and mechanisms studied in cell and animal models and in humans. Sessions will be two hours long — the first hour will be in a lecture format; the second will involve student-led discussions of papers relevant to the lecture topic. Student presentations of current literature and class participation will determine a portion of the grade; the balance will depend on a written and oral presentation to the class of a research proposal relevant to topics covered during the course.

 NUIN 480 Circuits and Systems for Motor Control (M. Bevan)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered TBD

The overarching question that NUIN 480 will address is: "How do specific circuits within the nervous system movement regulate movement?" The course will be delivered by 14 world-leading experts in their respective fields and is a combination of didactic teaching and discussion of key papers. Each session will run for 90 minutes to two hours. The course is open to NUIN and BME students. Postdoctoral scientists may also participate in the course. Sessions will comprise 30 minutes of didactic teaching followed by trainee-led presentation and faculty-guided discussion of one to two key papers. In addition, each of the five themes covered will incorporate a general discussion of the circuitry and principles under consideration. Grades will be based on class participation, and a 2,500–word final paper (of the student’s choosing) on motor control mechanisms.

Modules (& instructors): Spinal Cord, Brainstem, and Midbrain (Heckmann, McLean, Tresch); Motor Cortex (Shepherd, Miri, Miller); Cerebellum (Najac, Martina, Miller); Basal Ganglia (Bevan, Kozorovitskiy, Lerner; Computational Perspectives: Solla, Kennedy, Mussa-Ivaldi.

For questions on this course, please contact Mark Bevan, PhD.

 NUIN 481 Neural Mechanisms of Pain (Apkarian)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered Fall 2024

The course covers aspects of pain research, including inflammation, peripheral, spinal cord, brainstem, thalamus and cortical circuits for acute and chronic pain mechanisms. Students will explore the application of genetic, molecular, electrophysiological and human brain imaging approaches to unravel mechanisms of pain and analgesia.

 NUIN 486 The Biology of Sleep (TBD)

1 unit; offered alternate years; next offered TBD

This course is a literature-based seminar course that deals with genetic, physiological, pharmacological and behavioral approaches to sleep, with particular emphasis on the role that genes play in regulating sleep.

 NUIN 490 Responsible Conduct in Neuroscience Research (Pitman-Leung)

0 units; offered annually

Through a combination of lecture and discussion, students will explore the ethical dimensions of biomedical research. Emphasis will be on practicing skills in moral reasoning and identifying relevant institutional, professional and governmental regulations and guidelines. Ethical issues special to or unique to neuroscience will be presented by student groups.

 NUIN 590 Research (Valtierra)
1-3 units per quarter

Students register for one to three units per quarter until accumulating nine quarters of residency in the NUIN program.

 NUIN 443 Computational Neuroscience (Pinto, Glaser, Kennedy)
1 unit; offered annually every Spring quarter

This course is primarily targeted at first- and second-year NUIN graduate students in labs that use advanced computational tools for modeling and data analysis, and by graduate students in other programs (e.g. biomedical engineering) who are interested in computational neuroscience. We will cover core topics in systems, computational and theoretical neuroscience, including but not limited to: analysis of time series (e.g., generalized linear models, dimensionality reduction, systems identification), latent variable models, manifold inference, dynamical systems modeling, learning rules, and artificial neural networks. Students enrolling in the class are expected to be familiar with python programming and basic mathematical concepts, especially linear algebra.

 NUIN 451-1 Contemporary Neuroscience (Miri)
2 units; offered annually every Spring quarter.

The aim of the course is to explore at high resolution the process of doing basic neuroscience, as it is done today. Each week, a different instructor will lead a literature-based seminar focused specifically on their own work. In discussing their own work, often in the context of other related work in the field, instructors will closely narrate how their work came to be. Students will thus get a first-hand account of how scientific projects and papers materialize, decision by decision, experiment by experiment, and figure by figure. By focusing in detail on the process by which scientific understanding is incrementally built, students will build an awareness of that process and develop their ability to construct scientific understanding through their own research.  Students will also learn about contemporary experimental, analytical, and theoretical methods that may inform their scientific approach. Instructors have been chosen to represent the broad diversity of approaches pursued by Northwestern faculty.

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