Biophysics of Excitable Cells (PHYS*2030)
Code and section: PHYS*2030*01
Term: Winter 2016
Instructor: Miranda Schmidt
Credit Weight: 0.5
Course Calendar Description
An intermediate biophysics course with special emphasis on the physical properties of nerve cells and of biological transducers such as the ear and the eye. Prerequisite(s): 1.00 credits in physics (excluding PHYS*1020, PHYS*1600, PHYS*1810)
The main objectives of this course are to provide a basic understanding of the physical phenomena underlying nerve and membrane activity, and to illustrate how these phenomena are applied to different types of excitable cells.
By the end of this course students will be able to…
- Describe how physical principles influence the structure and function of excitable cells.
- Illustrate how physical phenomena can be applied to different types of excitable cells.
- Solve numerical problems using circuit analysis with various components including membrane resting and action potentials, membrane conductance and current flowing through cell membranes under different physiological conditions.
- Explain membrane and nerve activities with reference to the relevant underlying physical phenomena that give rise to them.
- Analyze how the principles of diffusion and electricity apply to biological membranes and individual nerve cells and how these result in cell resting and action potentials under different conditions.
- Apply the appropriate physical models to solve numerical problems describing sensory functions including hearing, vision, olfaction and taste.
- Generate simple circuit models to describe excitable cell membranes for excitable cells specific to the sensory systems.
- Compare and contrast the mechanisms underlying sensory functions of vision, hearing, olfaction and taste.
|Miranda Schmidt||MacNaughton email@example.com|
Office Hours: TBA and by appointment, please email.
|Richard Parg||MacNaughton firstname.lastname@example.org|
Lectures and Tutorials
|Monday, Wednesday, Friday||8:30 – 9:20am||JTP 214|
|Friday||10:30 – 11:20 am||MCKN 115|
Lecture notes, problem sets, and supplementary materials will be available on Courselink.
- "Biophysics of Excitable Cells" by G.H. Renninger, U. of G., 2003.
Available from the Physics Dept. Quiz Room (SSC 1101).
- "From Neuron to Brain" by J.G. Nicholls et al. (Library: QP 355.2.K83 2001)
- “Principles of Neural Science" by E.R. Kandel et al. (Library: QP 355.2.P76 2013)
|Week 1: Jan 11-15||Introduction to the course, review of mathematics (logarithms, exponentials, graphing, unit conversion, probability)
Chapter 1: Neurons, Membrane structure/function
|Week 2: Jan 18-22||Chapter 2: Diffusion, Fick's Law, active transport||Quiz 2|
|Week 3: Jan 25-29||Chapter 3: Membrane potential, Coulomb's law, Electric potential, Work, Electric fields, Capacitance
Begin Chapter 4
|Week 4: Feb 1-5||Chapter 4: Nernst equation, Electric current, mobility, Donnan equilibrium, equivalent circuit of a membrane, Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation||Problem Set 1 Due
|Week 5: Feb 8-12||Chapter 5: Current injection; the nerve impulse, voltage clamps and ionic currents.||Quiz 5|
|READING WEEK: Feb 15-19||NO CLASS|
|Week 6: Feb 22-26||Chapter 6: Synaptic transmission
|Week 7: Feb 29- Mar 4||Midterm Exam (Monday & Wednesday in class)
Chapter 7: Ion channels
|Problem Set 2 Due|
|Week 8: Mar 7-11||Chapters 7 and 10: Ion channels continued, begin olfaction and taste||Quiz 7|
|Week 9: Mar 14-18||Chapter 10: Olfaction and taste||Problem Set 3 Due
|Week 10: Mar 21-25||Chapter 8: Vision, the invertebrate eye||No class March 25th|
|Week 11: Mar 28- Apr 1||Chapter 8: Vision continued: the vertebrate eye
Chapter 9: Hearing
|Week 12: Apr 4-8||Chapter 9: Hearing continued
|Problem Set 4 Due
|Tutorial quizzes||Best 7 count||14%|
|Problem Sets||4 total||32%|
|Midterm||Feb. 29 and Mar. 2 in class||24%|
|Final Exam||April 15, 8:30 am, Room: TBA||30%|
Tutorials will be held each week. The tutorials are an important part of the course, since they provide practice and assistance with solving numerical problems. In addition, there will be a short tutorial quiz (usually 1-3 questions) at the end of each tutorial (except in weeks 7, 10 and 12). Of the 9 quizzes, the top 7 will count and make up 14% of the total course grade.
These contain mainly numerical problem solving questions showcasing the application of physics to biological membranes and sensory systems. There will be four (4) problem sets worth 8% each and have deadlines during tutorial throughout the semester:
- Problem Set 1: February 5
- Problem Set 2: March 4
- Problem Set 3: March 18
- Problem Set 4: April 8
Two parts: Monday, February 29 and Wednesday, March 2, in class. In the first half of the course, physics principles are reviewed with specific application to cell membranes. The midterm is worth 24% of the total course grade.
Friday, April 15, 8:30 am -10:30 pm, location TBA. In the second half of the course, sensory systems are discussed in detail with the application of physics phenomena and circuit models. The final exam is cumulative as the course builds throughout the semester. The final exam is worth 30% of the total course grade.
Late Assignments and Missed Quizzes
a) The penalty for late assignments is a 20% deduction per day, to a maximum of two days. You will be given ample time to complete your assignments; accordingly, you will be required to provide medical documentation if you wish to submit your assignment later than two days after the deadline.
b) There are absolutely no make-up quizzes. If you miss a quiz, remember that only your best 7 quizzes will be counted.
Other Information and Policies
Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures
Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.
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Course Evaluation Information
Information about the date and time of the course evaluation will be made available during the semester.
The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is March 11, 2016. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.