BP 219 Cellular Cognition

Module: 3
Sponsoring Program: BBC
Administrator: Julia Molla/Rebecca Brown

Course Number: BP 219
Course Name: Cellular Cognition
Units: 3
Grading Option: S/U
Course Director: Wallace Marshall

Additional Course Director(s):
Room Number: teaching lab
Campus: Mission Bay
Schedule: M-F 10-12
Maximum Class Size: 6

Course Description: The cell is a complex machine whose full range of capabilities are still being discovered.   The signaling networks within a cell can be viewed as computing circuits, raising the question of how much computational capacity a single cell might have.  The answer to this question would have major implications in all aspects of biology, medicine, and bioengineering, but learning how much a cell can compute is a challenge because it requires us to combine molecular and cellular biology with approaches from psychology and computer science.   In this course we will consider the extreme view that cells "think", and see how far we can push it.   In this course we will read and discuss key papers that purport to document intelligent behavior of single cells, such as learning and maze-solving, as well as less controversial papers describing the information processing and computational properties of intracellular signaling networks.   In conjunction with these papers, we will design and perform our own hands-on experiments to test some of the claims in the literature about behaviors of cells, which could potentially lay the ground-work for future mechanistic studies of these behaviors.   This will be an intense course requiring active participation and an open mind, as well as a willingness to think about a wide range of approaches spanning biology, psychology, and engineering.