NEU 841 Medical Neuroscience

Spring 2019

Part 1: Course Information

Online from January 7, 2019 – May 3, 2019

Course content located on Desire to Learn

3 credits

Course Description

NEU 841 will allow you to explore how the mammalian nervous system functions. Focus will be on the human nervous system and clinical applications of the content. To understand nervous system disorders, the underlying neuroanatomical and physiological mechanisms must first be understood. The course will use a systems approach to understand the healthy nervous system and begin to dive into the dysfunction that occurs in disease.

Instructor Information

Instructor: Dr. Casey Henley (Please call me Casey)

Office: 207 Giltner Hall

Email: Please contact me by using the private discussion area located in the Unit 0 folder on D2L.

Office hours: As this is an online course, I will do my best to answer questions posted within the private discussion within the following timeframes:

  • For Emergency topics: as soon as possible
  • For Content, Grading, and General topics: within 48 hours


  • If you have questions about the problem set content, please post on the discussion forums first. Work collaboratively with your team. If you feel your question is not answered sufficiently there, please ask in your private discussion area.
  • If you have questions or concerns about grades, please create a thread in your private discussion area with the title keyword “Grading.”
  • If you are having issues with D2L, please contact the D2L tech support.


I consider the syllabus to always be a work in progress. If I discover policies do not work for us as a class, the syllabus is open to revision.

Course Resources

Required Textbook

Neuroscience. Sixth Edition. Editors: Purves, Augustine, Fitzpatrick, Hall, LaMantia, White. Sinauer Associates, Inc. 2018.

Learning Management Systems (Online Classrooms)

D2L Course Site

All exams, videos, and discussions will be posted on D2L. Additionally, updates and information will often be posted on the Announcement section on the D2L course homepage. Please make sure you check your feed each time you enter the course.

If you need technical assistance at any time during the course or to report a problem, you can:


D2L uses a separate email system from MSU. Your D2L email will look like instead of If you are a new student to MSU, your D2L email will NOT be forwarded to your MSU account. It’s entirely your decision, but I recommend that students forward their D2L emails.

  1. To do this, log into D2L. On the main homepage, click on the “Email” tab.
  2. Within the window that appears, in the upper right corner, is a blue gear icon and the word “Settings”. Click into there.
  3. Scroll down to “Forwarding Options,” and add your MSU email.

If you choose not to forward your D2L email, please make a habit of checking the system for messages.

Google Classroom

Problem sets will be posted as Google Docs on Google Classroom. This allows students to work directly on their problem set if desired.

To access the Google Docs and Google Classroom, you must sign in using your MSU NetID and password.

If you are not signed in:

  1. On the page that says, “You need permission,” it tells you which account is being used. Instead of clicking “Request access,” choose the “Switch accounts” button. You can either choose your MSU email from the list or click on “Sign in to another account.”
  2. If your MSU email still doesn’t appear, choose “Add account,” and sign in using your MSU ID and password.

Complete your answers directly on the Google Doc. When you are finished, submit it by using the “Turn In” button on the assignment page in Google Classroom. Do not submit the doc until you are completely finished. Once you turn it in, you will no longer have editing access for the document. If you turn it in early on accident, the Turn In button will change so you can un-submit the assignment.


You will receive an email from me shortly before the course begins with the code for our Google Classroom. The code can also be found in the Announcements section of the D2L course homepage.

Course Structure

Medical Neuroscience is a fully online course. Each week you will be expected to complete a reading assignment prior to completing a problem set and participating in a discussion forum on that week’s topic. As a 3-credit, 15-week course, you should plan to spend about 9 hours each week on course material. This should look like 1-2 hours to complete the prep material, an hour to interact with your teammates, 2 hours to review the material, and the rest of the time (4-5 hours) completing the problem sets. Problem set questions are often complex, requiring you to analyze data or find information outside of the text. Despite this, you should not spend significantly more time than outlined above on the assignment. If you get stuck, give it your best shot.

The problem sets are difficult, but educational research shows that when students generate answers to novel problems (like those seen in the problem set), it requires higher-order thinking about previously learned material (e.g. from the textbook). Recalling learned information strengthens the memory of that content and increases the ability to remember it later. By creating answers, you are actively engaging with the material and not simply received knowledge passively, which is often forgotten.

It is also important to know that even if you get the problem set answers incorrect on your initial try, you have still retrieved important knowledge, making connections between old and new information. Additionally, when errors are made initially, if those errors are corrected through feedback (from the video reviews), the errors are not learned. Learning should not be effortless and errorless, but corrective feedback is a necessary step. Embrace the difficulties in the class knowing that they are solidifying your neuroscience knowledge.

Each student will be assigned to a team of approximately 7-8 students.

The Unit

A unit consists of

  • Learning objectives
  • A checklist
  • A reading assignment
  • A problem set document located in the Google Classroom
  • Team discussion
  • Review video or document for the problem sets
  • Muddiest Point quizzes

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives outline the tasks you should be able to complete in preparation for the exam. They are not part of the problem set assignment.


Use the D2L checklists to make sure you are completing all the required work for the unit.


Each unit will have a reading assignment from the textbook that gives background information needed for completing the problem set assignments.

Problem Sets

The problem set will be accessed through the Google Classroom. Complete your answers directly on the Google Doc, and when you are finished, submit it by using the “Turn In” button on the assignment page in Google Classroom.

Google Classroom Information

Do not submit the doc until you are finished. Once you turn it in, you will no longer have editing access for the document. If you turn it in early on accident, the Turn In button will change so you can un-submit it.


A random number of questions will be selected for grading for each problem set. Grading is based on a serious attempt at answering the question. The answer does not need to be correct to receive points, but if it is determined that the given answers do not show an adequate attempt at a response, points will be lost.

Team Discussion

Each team needs to have a discussion for each Unit. The function of the discussion is to provide you with the ability to collaborate with your team on the content. The problem sets were created with the idea that students would work together. Discuss the material. See what others think on topics. If you are having trouble with a question on the problem set, post an inquiry. Respond to inquiries made by other team members.

Your discussion grade is going to be based on weekly participation in your team’s discussion forum. By 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday of each week, you should have posted at least three times, one of which must be a reply to a teammate. These posts could be original questions or replies to other teammates. Posts should be original questions or viewpoints on an answer. Posts such as, “Yeah, I had that question, too,” “I agree with the last post,” or posts not about the problem set content will not earn you points. Additionally, posts should not simply copy the question from the problem set. If you have a question, explain your thought process. Your posts need to reflect that you have thought about the topic to receive points. Review the “Discussion Forum Expectations” document in D2L for more detailed information.

Discussion posts are due the day before the problem set is due. This is to make sure everyone has time to benefit from the discussion. This setup avoids the situation where students are trying to post 3 times while also trying to finish their problem set assignment right before the deadline. I found that if posts are made at the last minute, no one has time to respond, and that information cannot be integrated into answers on the assignment. This also gives me an opportunity to clear up any confusion prior to the problem set deadline.


The review videos will go over the answers to the problem sets. Make sure to follow along and use the feedback in the review videos to correct your answers. IMPORTANT: Correcting your misunderstandings is crucial to succeed in the course. This is your opportunity to correct your problem set answers to prepare for the exam.

Muddiest Points

These one question quizzes help me understand where students are having trouble with the content. Please complete these quizzes after you have watched the problem set review video. If you would like to list more than one confusing item, please do.


Exams will cover the content found in the problem sets, the reading assignments, and the lectures. They will be multiple choice and short answers and will be available for a 24-hour period on the date listed from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm EST. Once the exam has been started, it will be timed. There will be one question per page. Everyone will be able to take the exams regardless of the content that has been submitted prior.

It is possible to start the exam as late as 11:58 pm and still have the entire time limit to complete the exam. However, if any error within D2L occurs that could normally be solved with a simple browser refresh, you will not be able to reenter the exam due to the end time having passed. Therefore, I highly suggest starting the exam before 10:30 pm on exam days to fully complete the exam prior to 11:59 pm.

Exams will be on Tuesdays.

Due Dates

Assignments are due by 11:59 pm EST on the date listed.

The Schedule

Each unit will open on Thursday. The discussion posts are due on the following Tuesday. The problem sets are due on Wednesday. My suggestion is to spend Thursday and Friday reading for the current unit and watching the video reviews of the previous unit. Attempt the problem set on Saturday and Sunday, communicate with your team on Monday and Tuesday, and then finish the unit on Wednesday. Exams will be on Tuesdays. Muddiest Points are due on the same day as the exam.

To Start

Review the syllabus (either PDF or website version) and complete the Unit 0: Introduction module. Make sure to view the checklist in the Unit 0 folder for details on assignments.

Google Documents and Google Classroom

The problem sets will be shared as Google Docs on Google Classroom through the MSU Google Apps agreement. To access the Google Docs and Google Classroom, you must sign in using your MSU NetID and password. If you are not signed in, on the page that says, “You need permission,” it tells you which account is being used. Instead of clicking “Request access,” choose the “Switch accounts” button. You can either choose your MSU email from the list or click on “Sign in to another account.” If your MSU email still doesn’t appear, choose “Add account,” and sign in using your MSU ID and password.

Private Discussion Forum

Instead of communicating by email, I ask all students to ask me questions via the private discussion forum found under the Introduction folder. Only you and I can see the content in this forum. Start a new thread, and then write the same text you would normally put in an email. I will address any grading or emergency questions as soon as possible. To improve our communication, I ask that somewhere within the title, you use one (or more, as appropriate) of the following keywords:

  • Content – for questions on course material
  • Grading – for grading questions or concerns
  • Emergency – for any circumstance that affects your ability to proceed with course material
  • General – for topics such as D2L issues (contact tech support first), team issues, or other miscellaneous things that might pop up

IMPORTANT: Please subscribe to your private discussion forum, so you receive notifications when posts are created.


Updates and information will often be posted on the Announcement section on the course homepage. Please make sure you check your feed each time you enter the course.

Academic Responsibility

It is the responsibility of each student to generate original work for all assignments. This means all submitted work must be in your own words. Plagiarizing from any of, but not limited to, the internet, readings, videos, popular press articles, other students, and/or research articles is grounds for receiving a zero for that assignment. IMPORTANT: This means that even though you are working in teams, the work you submit must be in your own words. Please see Part 4: Course Policies for more information.

Part 2: Grading Policy

Graded Course Activities

Assignment Points Possible Total Points Description
Introduction 20 20 Practice assignments to introduce you to the course structure
Problem Sets 24 on each 240 Top 10 scores from 11 problem sets
Discussions 12 on each 120 Top 10 scores from 11 discussions
Muddiest Points 2 on each 2 Top 10 scores from 11 muddiest points
Exams 200 600 Multiple choice and short answer
Total   1000 Possible points

Grading Scale

Grade Points Percentage Performance
4.0 900 to 1000 90 to 100% Excellent Work
3.5 840 to 899 84 to 89% Nearly Excellent Work
3.0 780 to 839 78 to 83% Very Good Work
2.5 730 to 779 73 to 77% Good Work
2.0 670 to 729 67 to 72% Average Work
1.5 620 to 669 62 to 66% Below Average Work
1.0 560 to 619 56 to 61% Poor Work
0.0 0 to 559 0 to 55% Failing Work

Work Submission Policy

The teamwork nature of this course requires that students keep up to date with their assignments and actively engage in the activities. Since the review videos open immediately after the assignment’s due date, late work will not be accepted. One assignment from each of the following categories: problem set, discussion forum, muddiest point, is dropped to accommodate the occasional issue that arises.

Sometimes, though, life gets complicated. In the case that one dropped assignment is not sufficient, or an exam must be missed, please review the guidelines for excuses absences below.

Excused Absences

Illness or Injury

Email me if will be missing the exam/assignment prior to the start of the exam day/due date. Within 24 hours of the missed exam/assignment, provide me with a note from a medical provider that states your name, the name and address of the healthcare provider, the date you were seen, a statement excusing you from classwork for the date you missed for medical reasons, and a signature of the healthcare provider. Notes stating that you were seen but not excused will not be accepted. I recognize that it can sometimes be difficult to see a medical provider on short notice, but this policy is in place to create fairness for all students. If it is impossible for you to obtain documentation, please contact me via your private discussion forum.

Bereavement due to death in the family or similar tragedy

Email me if you will be missing the exam/assignment prior to the start of the exam day/due date. Within 48 hours of the missed exam/assignment, I should also receive an email notice from the Dean’s office that you have been approved for a grief absence. In order to request a grief absence, you must fill out the Grief Absence Request Form within 7 days of the event and provide the requested documentation.

Chronic health issues, physical disabilities, and learning disabilities

If you experience severe and chronic health issues, physical disabilities, or learning challenges that prevent you from completing assignments by the deadlines, we can attempt to devise a plan to help support you.

Within 7 days of the first day of class (if diagnosed prior to the start of the semester) or within 7 days of diagnosis (if diagnosed during the semester), you must provide me with a VISA issued by RCPD. I am extremely willing and able to provide accommodations for students with such conditions, but a VISA is required in order to do so. Information regarding a VISA is kept confidential, and you will not be asked to provide personal health information related to the diagnosis. Students eligible for a VISA are HIGHLY encouraged to obtain one and provide it to me as soon as possible. If you have applied for a VISA but it has not been issued, please inform me, and send me the name of your RCPD advisor.

Viewing Grades

Grades will always be available on the D2L gradebook. Problem sets and muddiest point grades are based on participation and will be posted as promptly as possible. Problem set grading is based on a serious attempt at answering the question. The answer does not need to be correct to receive points. Answers for the problem sets will be given in the review videos. The multiple-choice portion of the exams will be automatically graded but will not be available to students until after the exam closes. Short answers will be graded by hand and will not be completed until the day after the exam.

Any grading questions or concerns should be addressed as soon as possible. At most, questions about grades should be submitted within one week of the grade being posted to D2L.

Part 3: Course Schedule

The schedule is tentative and subject to change. Any changes to the schedule will be announced ahead of time. All assignments are due at 11:59pm EST on the due date.

Assignment Due Date Reading
Welcome and Introduction Wed, Jan 9 None
Unit 1 Organization of the Nervous System
Unit 1 Discussion Tues, Jan 15

Chapter 1 and the Appendix


*The reading for next week is a little heavy. I suggest starting it early.*

Unit 1 Problem Set Wed, Jan 16
Unit 1 Muddiest Point Tues, Feb 12
Unit 2 Neuronal Signaling
Unit 2 Discussion Tues, Jan 22 Chapters 2-4
Unit 2 Problem Set Wed, Jan 23
Unit 2 Muddiest Point Tues, Feb 12
Unit 3 Synaptic Transmission – TWO WEEKS TO COMPLETE
Unit 3 Discussion Tues, Feb 5 Chapters 5-7
Unit 3 Problem Set Wed, Feb 6
Unit 3 Muddiest Point Tues, Feb 12
Exam 1 Tues, Feb 12 Units 1-3
Unit 4 Somatosensory & Pain
Unit 4 Discussion Tues, Feb 19 Chapters 9-10
Unit 4 Problem Set Wed, Feb 20
Unit 4 Muddiest Point Tues, Mar 26
Unit 5 Vision
Unit 5 Discussion Tues, Feb 26 Chapters 11-12
Unit 5 Problem Set Wed, Feb 27
Unit 5 Muddiest Point Tues, Mar 26
Spring Break Mon, Mar 4 through Fri, Mar 8
Unit 6 Auditory & Vestibular
Unit 6 Discussion Tues, Mar 12

Chapters 13-14;

Actions and Innervations of Extraocular muscles pg. 448-450;

Clinical Applications pg. 453-454

Unit 6 Problem Set Wed, Mar 13
Unit 6 Muddiest Point Tues, Mar 26
Unit 7 Chemical Senses
Unit 7 Discussion Tues, Mar 19 Chapter 15
Unit 7 Problem Set Wed, Mar 20
Unit 7 Muddiest Point Tues, Mar 26
Exam 2 Tues, Mar 26 Units 4-7
Unit 8 Motor
Unit 8 Discussion Tues, Apr 2 Chapters 16-17
Unit 8 Problem Set Wed, Apr 3
Unit 8 Muddiest Point Tues, Apr 30
Unit 9 Basal Ganglia & Cerebellum
Unit 9 Discussion Tues, Apr 9 Chapters 18-19
Unit 9 Problem Set Wed, Apr 10
Unit 9 Muddiest Point Tues, Apr 30
Unit 10 Plasticity & Repair
Unit 10 Discussion Tues, Apr 16 Chapters 8, 26
Unit 10 Problem Set Wed, Apr 17
Unit 10 Muddiest Point Tues, Apr 30
Unit 11 Emotion & Addiction
Unit 11 Discussion Tues, Apr 23 Chapter 31
Unit 11 Problem Set Wed, Apr 24
Unit 11 Muddiest Point Tues, Apr 30
Exam 3 Tues, Apr 30 Units 7-10

Part 4: Course Policies

Inform Your Instructor of Any Accommodations Needed

From the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD): Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a Verified Individual Services Accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc.). Requests received after this date may not be honored.

Resource Persons with Disabilities (RCPD)

Commit to Integrity: Academic Honesty

Article 2.III.B.2 of the SRR states: “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, NEU adheres to the policies on academic honesty specified in General Student Regulation 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations.

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course.  Also, you are not authorized to use the Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU regulations on Protection of Scholarship and Grades will receive a failing grade in the course or on the assignment.

Faculty are required to report all instances in which a penalty grade is given for academic dishonesty.  Students reported for academic dishonesty are required to take an online course about the integrity of scholarship and grades.  A hold will be placed on the student’s account until such time as the student completes the course.  This course is overseen by the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Limits to Confidentiality

Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies.  However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others.  As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
  • Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared.  In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual.  If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is January 11. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is February 1. The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is February 27. You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Commercialized Lecture Notes

Commercialization of lecture notes and university-provided course materials is not permitted in this course.

Disruptive Behavior

Article 2.III.B.4 of the Academic Freedom Report (AFR) for students at Michigan State University states: “The student’s behavior in the classroom shall be conducive to the teaching and learning process for all concerned.” Article 2.III.B.10 of the AFR states that “The student has a right to scholarly relationships with faculty based on mutual trust and civility.” General Student Regulation 5.02 states: “No student shall . . . interfere with the functions and services of the University (for example, but not limited to, classes . . .) such that the function or service is obstructed or disrupted. Students whose conduct adversely affects the learning environment in this classroom may be subject to disciplinary action through the Student Judicial Affairs office.

Build Rapport

If you find that you have any trouble keeping up with assignments or other aspects of the course, make sure you let me know as early as possible. As you will find, building rapport and effective relationships are key to becoming an effective professional. Make sure that you are proactive in informing me when difficulties arise during the semester so that I can help you find a solution.

Part 5: Frequently Asked Questions

I have an RCPD VISA that allows me more time on an exam (or other accommodation). What do I do with it?

Have your RCPD Advisor send me ( your VISA and accommodation as soon as possible, and we will work together to make sure the course runs smoothly for you.

Why do I have to work in a team?

Research shows that a team will outperform all of its members individual, even the top member. You will also be entering fields (medicine, research, technology) that frequently require co-workers to collaborate on projects. Additionally, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has ranked the ability to work in teams as one of the three most important skills employers look for in college graduates (the ability to think critically and the ability to communicate effectively are the other two). Practicing this skill in courses can help you succeed in future endeavors.

The Google Doc tells me I have to request permission from the owner. What do I do?

Don’t request permission. Please double check how you are signed into Google. To access the Google Docs, you must sign in using your MSU NetID and password. On the page that says, “You need permission,” it tells you how you are signed in. Instead of clicking the “Request access” button, choose the “Switch accounts” button. You can either choose your MSU email from the list or click on “Sign in to another account.” If your MSU email still doesn’t appear, choose “Add account,” and sign in using your MSU ID and password.

Why is the exam set up to only have one question per page?

Although it does take longer for a student to proceed through the exam when it is structured this way, there are two main reasons for this decision. First, it helps students who need to use assistive technologies like screen readers to take the exam. When the entire exam is listed on one page, it makes it very difficult to navigate, and it is inaccessible to an entire population of learners. Secondly, it also deters unethical practices during the exam such as working with friends or looking up answers.

Why do you use private discussion forums instead of email?

The private discussion forums provide a space to keep all our communication together, unlike email. We could end up having dozens of email threads, possibly covering some of the same issues. In the private discussion, our history is readily accessible at any time. It also allows me to have all student communication located in one place.