Neuroscience is a discipline that employs the tools and language of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, neurology and psychiatry. It occupies a rather unique position in the biomedical sciences due to the fact that it not only addresses an organ of critical importance, but also addresses more philosophical issues such as the physiological basis of mind, our emotions and our perceptions of the physical world in which we live.
Many consider the neurosciences to be one of the last frontiers of the biological sciences. It has been said that we have learned more about the brain in the past twenty years than in the entire history of our civilization. Despite the fact that tremendous progress in the neurosciences has been made in recent years, our knowledge of the brain and how it works is still in its infancy. If we are to gain an understanding of how this marvelous, mysterious organ works, students must have thorough knowledge of the cellular and molecular neurobiology of the nervous system - knowledge that will allow them to understand the systems that arise from these cellular components and interpret new developments in the field during the coming years.
Just as there has been an explosion in knowledge about the brain, there has also been an explosion in information technology, in particular the information technology that is available over the worldwide web. Therefore, it seems timely to present neuroscience in a format that optimally uses these emerging new technologies. Over the past several years at UT-Houston Medical School, we have developed an electronic course in neuroscience that takes advantage of new, multi-media features such as interactive graphics, animations, hyperlinks, computer-assisted interactive laboratories and interactive exam reviews. The material in this offering is designed for first-year medical students, but would also be appropriate for graduate students as well as advanced undergraduates. It has also been optimized to be accessible to individuals with various backgrounds in the neurosciences and different learning styles. Ideally, readers should have had college-level courses in physics, chemistry and biochemistry, and biology.