Professional training

Basic courses

Students are coming from different background and educational systems and, hence, have quite a heterogeneous knowledge across the different areas of neuroscience and regarding the techniques used. The goal of the basic courses is to standardize the levels.

Basic biostatistics

This course offers a comprehensive training on biostatistics with relevant examples that include data collected in studies of the field of neuroscience. The program will provide an intensive introduction to biostatistical approaches and research by presenting the principles, methodologies, uses, and applications of statistical methods in biomedical and clinical research. The students should then know how to design and conduct an experimental protocol according to biostatistics rules.

Basic neuronatomy

The goal of this course is to provide comprehensive insights into the neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, and functional aspects of the major brain structures and their interconnections. The core elements consist of courses covering the anatomy, cellular and synaptic organization of the spinal cord, brainstem, basal ganglia, hippocampus and neocortex. These brain systems will especially be related to the motor, visual, emotional, and cognitive processes.

Communication techniques

The basic techniques of communication (oral presentation, poster presentation, article writing, grant writing, thesis writing, outreach activities, science communication and dissemination) will be explained. These techniques should be mastered at the earliest stages of the training but it is more motivating for students to be trained with their own results. Since the end of first year most often corresponds to the presentation of the first results to international conferences (in particular Society for Neuroscience), we will organize rehearsal sessions of poster and oral presentations. Moreover, students will be asked to present their work at the Annual PhD Day of the ICN PhD program.

Career development

Students will learn about the different career options across sectors in and outside Europe, the resources available to help them to clarify about their professional priorities and values-based career goals.

Specialized courses

Computationnal neuroscience

Computational neuroscience is a field in expansion that is getting more and more essential in neuroscience. The aim of this course will be to provide a common solid background in computational neuroscience. The course will comprise historical recall of the field and a description of the different modelling approaches that are currently developed, including for what purpose are they used, what are their limits and advantages.

Techniques in molecular and cellular biology

Publishing in high impact factor journals most often requires the combination of complementary techniques. Many researchers in the field on integrative neuroscience still do not dare to use these techniques although they would improve the interpretation of their data and enable them to better target the mechanisms. This 1.5 day-long course will give the principles of structural biochemistry and bioinformatics, basic technics in microscopy (epifluorescence, confocal), dynamic technics (FRAP, FRET), electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE, 2D), Western Blot, Blue native electrophoresis, affinity purification-mass spectrometry and mass spectrometry imaging.

Measuring and interacting with neural activity

Researchers and students often do not have a clear idea of the physical principles underlying their measures and the impairing limits/bias. This is true for any measure and we often read or hear researchers delivering erroneous statements based on wrong assumptions about the meaning of the signal they actually quantify.

Local AMU specialists cover most of the techniques used for measuring neuronal activity. Our main objective is to provide an overview of these techniques and their limits and to develop PhD students’ critical thinking. For that purpose, we privilege brief and straight to the point presentations, in order to have enough time for discussions.

This 2 day-long class includes 4 sessions, each devoted to one main category of measure and perturbation of neuronal activity (i.e. electric session, magnetic session, optic session and the black box one). Main techniques within each category will be presented by the expert  during a 30’ session, followed by a 15’ slot for discussions/questions and 10’ for rest before the next talk. This will allow a brief but intense coverage of the whole field.

Care of laboratory animals

For students with research projects involving animals, a mandatory 1 week training session is organized by INSERM in order to get accreditation from the French authorities to use animal models. This training covers animal welfare and handling, ethical and legislation issues, surgery and basics in animal care and ethics related to animal experimentation.

Of note, the veterinarian (Ivan Balansard) is appointed as the head of these training courses which are open to students and researchers nationwide. Our students will thus have privileged access to this mandatory training.

Computer programming

In integrative neuroscience, basic skills in computer programming are getting more and more mandatory. The emergence of new brain imaging and recording systems, such as the one used in the INT or other laboratory, has lead to a large increase in the amount and complexity of information to be processed. In order to provide PhD students with those basic skills, a course will be given with two objectives: (i) an initiation to standard programming languages (such as Matlab or Python) and (ii) an introduction to basic signal and image processing methods. The course will comprise a hands-on project.