W2450 Behavioral Neuroscience

Jan 2020

Spagna is a funny and engaging lecturer, but unfortunately he doesn't really know what he was doing with this class. The material was pretty dry, as it was mostly neuroanatomy and cellular neurobiology, and had nothing to do behavioral neuroscience except for maybe the last week of material that was crammed into the schedule. He would explain the lectures slowly, then hit us with a whole video a few days before the exam that we needed to know. Then the bulk of the exam was on that last second material. The grading was super harsh, as it was mostly raw score or maybe curved just a few points. It's a shame because he's a very nice person, but his class ended up being kind of a landmine in the major. I would look into seeing if you could finesse another professor to fill out your cognitive or behavioral requirement.

Jun 2017

she is extremely rude and arrogant. her lectures are terrible- you can follow nothing- and the style of this class is bad. she makes you memorize useless diagrams THAT YOU NEVER HAVE TO DO IN THE REAL WORLD and stupid bullet points. overall, worst class I have ever taken at columbia.

Jun 2017

Overall, I liked Professor Taylor's Behavioral Neuroscience class. However, a few things to keep in mind: she's transitioning into a clinical career away from research, and is very busy, making her less accessible except for just after class. She's a good lecturer, but it's hard to interpret what she wants you to really know versus the flood of information that we got in class. The importance of some concepts were lost in the shuffle until we studied long and hard to connect the dots. She adds a lot of humor in her lectures and answers questions, even if they're based on an incorrect premise, and explains the answer she's giving. The way her tests are constructed force you to problem-solve through the mechanisms and why certain systems work the way that they do, which honestly is good overall. The tests are not easy--all short answers, and this can be both bad an good depending on which TA grades certain portions of the test (each section is graded by a different TA). It can be challenging to get the hang of it at first, and most students did not do well on the first exam. I really recommend recording her lectures and re-listening to them when you study, because most of what she explains in lecture could be exam fodder, but this isn't always reflected in the slides. Having said that, her exam questions are already basically laid out for you via questions that she posts at the end of each slide. There are way more questions on the slides than on the exam, which, again, means there is a lot to remember and study 100% to ensure that you don't falter through the exam. She likes succinct detail, but you're not punished for going into more than you need to in hopes that you hit the target she was looking for. In many cases, you have to draw detailed diagrams, and you often have to search through the slides and combine several diagrams she gave in order to get full points. Definitely, definitely go to the exam study sessions. She has you write two short papers, a seminar review and a faux popular science-style article on a new finding. I liked this, and it's meant to boost your grade while letting your indulge your interests and learn about a topic more deeply. Also, she assigns online quizzes that you can re-do until you get full credit, and the best part: she drops your lowest exam grade, which, if you do well on the first three, includes the final (so you don't even need to take the final if you actually did well from the get-go). I would take her courses again, especially now that I know how she thinks. You do need to spend a lot of time with the slide questions and studying on your own. There is a learning curve with that though, so keep that in mind.

May 2016

Although the course is challenging, it is comprehensive and intellectually stimulating. Prof Taylor's organizational skills may be a nightmare and a half, but if you do your part as a student--review your notes, ask questions, and go to office hours, everything comes together. Lean on the TAs (especially Jeremy) because they know that Prof. Taylor is a tornado and that her slides often make little sense. Again the class is rewarding. I recommend starting to answer study questions at least 2 weeks before the exam that way you have time to go to office hours before the mad dash the day before the exam. Don't bother memorizing anything she teaches the day before an exam. Since you have choices on each test as to which questions you answer, focus on 80% of the material and skip the stuff you learn the week of the test. You don't have to answer it anyway. With the online quizzes, just commit to sitting in front of a computer randomly clicking for an hour until you get a 10/10. They really help your grade, and they're kind of like a computer game. Don't bother looking for answers in the text ... which by the way was a waste of money! For entertainment during the 8:40 lectures (which are absolutely mandatory if you want to do well. Write down every last word that woman says, she will expect you to know it, and the slides are not helpful) keep a tally of each time she mentions her ex-husband. It comes to at least 2x per class. Again the class really gives you a good handle on the basics of neuroscience. I learned a lot, got a lot out of the course, but also put a lot in. It was a valuable experience!

Aug 2009

If you are looking for an interactive professor who comes up with creative teaching methods to help students better understand the subject at hand... keep looking! I took this course during a summer session, and each class was a 3 hour lecture crammed with material, which NEVER included a scrap of audio-visual aid (weird for a science class, right?). Sometimes he will draw a picture of the board and tell us there is a better one in the book, and often he will sprinkle the board with various names and terms (I think for spelling). "Is this clear by the way?" becomes a common theme (just nod and read the textbook). Your knowledge is assessed on 3 exams, which are quite difficult and require loads of memorization. Several instances have convinced me that he is also a nit-picky grader. Prior knowledge of the subject will make it much easier to get a good grade in this class. I wish I had a different professor :(

Jan 2000

On the first day of class you will realize that you are recieving strange vibes from Dr. Horovitz. It took me a while to realize what those vibes were...I was listening to a lecture being given by someone who is actually excited by what he is lecturing about. Dr. Horovitz's enthusiasm is refreshing, and rubs off on his students. Lectures are very interesting and range from involved philosophical discussions to biological terminology presented in a straightforward manner. Inviting, happy to give personal attention if it is sought out. Exams are not terribly difficult, but not easy either. The grading system is one of the fairest that I have ever encountered. All in all one of the best classes and the best professor I have ever had.

Jan 2000

One of the best courses the Psychology department has to offer. The professor is engaging, funny, and always willing to help. He comes to class very organized and usually has a PowerPoint presentation to supplement the lectures. The workload is tolerable and the tests are straight-forward.