The first year of the programme is designed to provide a broad exposure to a range of topics and viewpoints in neuroscience and biology to prepare for selecting a thesis lab. Thus, prior training in neuroscience, while encouraged, is not necessary. The programme has an emphasis on quantitative approaches and therefore a background in university-level mathematics is desirable. The programme is well-suited to students from the physical sciences, computer sciences and engineering with no biology or neuroscience training.
Course work is divided into one- or two-week long intensive modules and is roughly divided into two parts. The first part is devoted to ‘core’ concepts in neuroscience and biology, with a curriculum including fundamentals in biology and evolution, cellular and synaptic physiology, synaptic plasticity and development and anatomy. The second part is devoted to system’s level approaches, including sensory and motor systems, neuroethology and computational neuroscience. A wide range of experimental and theoretical techniques and model systems are covered. Modules are coordinated and mainly led by CNP faculty with contributions from invited experts from around the world. Each course module generally consists of classroom lectures in the morning followed by a variety of practical work in the afternoon. This includes discussions and journal clubs, laboratory work in which students conduct behaviour, electrophysiology and imaging experiments, and theoretical work in which students will program computational models and data analysis in Matlab.
The first semester of training is very much conceived as an immersive group experience. Active student participation and initiative, especially in the practical aspects of the courses, is encouraged, and many of these activities take place in a group setting. The schedule is intense and occupies most of the day during the first semester.
In addition to the courses associated to the first semester, the INDP has recently started to organize ‘advanced’ courses, which range in format from a traditional course to a short workshop. Advanced courses are open to students at any stage during their PhD, will assume that participants have an adequate background on the topic at hand, and will be lectured mainly by leading international and local experts. Student participation in the design and organization of these courses is encouraged.
The curriculum and instructors for the current and previous INDP courses can be found. Please note that the language of instruction is English.