Based on 10 Users
Took this during the summer which was 6 weeks long, use Anki!! I averaged 300-400 cards per lecture so your anki cards should be pretty specific lol but got an A+ on the midterm and final by just studying my Anki cards and some of the charts from the slides. The slides are really all you need which is nice. It is definitely a lot of info and can seem very very overwhelming so make sure not to get behind because it can be super hard to catch up. I'd say just make the anki cards from the slides and then start memorizing as soon as you can. Watch the lecture in your free time later but get to memorizing ASAP. She offered multiple Extra Credit opportunities which was nice and weren't too hard. The labs were pretty decent too but again if the lab quiz is friday try to start memorizing like sat/sun or as soon as she posts the slides. People study a lot of diff ways but for me just constant review instead of cramming right before exams worked well, like anki daily no matter how far away the exam is. Also for notes I would draw images to help remember things (i.e. to remember the PAG has opioid receptors and received pain and temp input I drew a pig with poppy flowers and its tail on fire lol). Overall a lot of info but definitely manageable if you take it one day at a time!
Finally grades are out so I get to make a review for this class. Let me preface this by saying it is VITAL you take this in the summer, and not take any other class alongside it UNLESS it's a dirt easy GE. I could not possibly imagine how people could be taking this class on top of m101a and some other 4-5 unit class as well. This is undeniably one of the hardest classes you will take here at UCLA. Why? Well at its core, this class isn't so much about learning as it is an intensive exercise of active learning and spaced repetition. You will DEFINITELY, not probably, DEFINITELY have to memorize hundreds upon hundreds of flashcards before each test. My advice? Anki. In order to get an A in this class, Anki is the only way you can get there, 100%. I have seen several people drop out or do poorly because they treated this like your normal STEM class by reading the slides over and over again and taking notes. But if you did any prior research about this class, you probably already know that. So what's left? Well if you're reading this, you're most likely a neuroscience major (if not, DO NOT TAKE THIS AS A GE), so there's no avoiding this class. So let me tell you a bit about the professor. Let me start off by apologizing on behalf of the Summer 2020 class if you're taking this Fall 2020 as we made things a bit harder for you because Janel Labelle, while not the worst professor, is a spiteful, passive-aggressive piece of work. This professor does not facilitate your learning, but is rather an obstacle to your learning. You will soon come to realize that the best way to succeed in this class is purely by going over flashcards. As such, watching lecture videos is, in my opinion, a gigantic waste of time. But that's ok because everything you need is purely from the lecture slides and the lab manuals, which is the material you will be using to make flashcards. However, roughly 10 percent of the difficulty in this course comes from Janel messing up. Her slides are riddled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, redundancies and conflicting information and while that might not seem like a huge deal at first, once you take the exams you will begin to realize how detrimental one slip up or error is to your score. Not only that, but for someone that cares so much about spelling, she will even make the same mistakes on her actual exams. Remember how I said we made it harder for the next class? Well it's because before the class even started, Labelle told us that all the lab quizzes will be based purely from lab manual material. However, on our very last lab quiz, she not only pulled straight from the lecture material, but when we confronted her about it in the class google doc (which we thought was anonymous), she not only called out several students by name for pointing this out and giving her straight proof that she went against her word, but she also went on a complete rant on how she's going to make it mandatory for the Fall 2020 class to watch the lab videos and put a few random questions from the videos onto the quizzes, as if they weren't nitpicky enough and as if it had any effect on our class specifically whatsoever (and bear in mind she did this during finals week, probably the worst time to talk down upon your students and fight them over a mistake you made). So in short, Labelle is the type of prideful and spiteful professor to mess up, blame the students, and do something completely petty to prove her point. Like I said, she is not a helper, but an obstacle--she will only get in the way of you actually getting something meaningful from this class. So to summarize, what do you, as an incoming Neuroscience 102 student, need to know? Unless she specifies otherwise: don't watch lecture videos, make Anki flashcards and study them as much as possible, and do not count on Labelle for help. Oh, and take advantage of whatever extra credit is offered (like I said, she's not the worst professor, but she definitely gets in the way). This is an extremely difficult course and our class worked our asses off trying to reach the finish line. Hopefully you'll have a better time than I did.
Okay alright alright, you're most likely a sophomore neuroscience major getting ready to take this either over the summer or in the fall. Taking it over the summer is a good move, this class at the same time as 101a will get overwhelming. I've watched kids get blindsided by Chandler's exam and the first midterm for this class at the same time. Chandler is genuinely conceptually hard and this class just has an absolutely astounding amount of material that you have to learn. I did something a bit different, my junior year I was enrolled in 101a and 102 for the first week. I spoke to some older kids and one of them told me to just drop 102 and take it later. I know the department says that these are enforced co-requisites, but they won't actually drop you from 101a if you drop 102. I just waited until after Megan had enrolled me in both and dipped. HOWEVER, it made the 101 series much harder because I had to google a ton just to figure out what the anatomy terms meant.
This class is not easy to get an A in. The weekly quizzes in lab can get away from you real quick and the exam questions are often written in such a way that you need to know two pieces of information for one question. For example, there will be an image of a stained brain slice with an arrow marking a structure. The question will not ask you what the name of the structure is, it will ask you something along the lines of: "Where does this structure project to". You get the point? You have to know damn near everything.
On the plus side, you don't need anything other than the slides to get an A. I never went to a single lecture, because the professor wasn't going to memorize it for me. I just made myself to go the library and study for at least an hour and fifteen minutes every time I skipped. You do not need to study the lecture slides for the lab quizzes, and you do not need to study the lab slides for the midterms or final.
I have no idea how you would study for this class without flashcards, and Quizlet isn't really going to cut it anymore. Use Anki. I know you might be skeptical about this, but just google "Anki Image Occlusion Enhanced", and you'll see why it's so good. You can draw rectangular masks over screenshots of the diagrams from the lecture slides, and anki will turn each into its own flashcard. Anki also cycles cards in an intelligent way. As you go through the deck, if you get the card wrong it will show it to you again 1m later, then once you get it right it will show it 10m later, then 1 day, 4 days, and 10 days. Studies have been done that show this is the most effective way to retain information long term, and since the final is cumulative this is a necessity. The final was actually more review information from the first two midterms than it was new information when I took it. Just make an Anki deck after each lecture, including every single diagram and anything that seems remotely important from the text on the slides. Keep up with Anki's study schedule every day and you will get an A.
Seriously. Just try Anki. I feel obligated to write this review because people don't know about it. I didn't until my senior year and it would've saved me so so much time throughout my college career.
She's really an amazing person. I took this class during the pandemic from outside the country and she was very accommodating and helpful. Go to lectures only if you have time to spare because you won't memorize anything during lectures. The concepts are very easy to understand but there is so much to memorize. The slides are the best study tool and you need to memorize every detail on them. Most people used Anki but I found it to be better to just review the slides over and over again.
This class was simultaneously the most amazing and most difficult class I've taken here. The only way to succeed is Anki, as the other reviewers have mentioned. After each lecture/lab, make a set of flashcards, with a question on one side and answer on the other and do these often. That's how you will be able to memorize so many tidbits of information (I had 1450 flashcards in 6 weeks - 10 lectures, 5 labs). For those taking it in summer, point allocation was:
- Quizzes 40 (5 quizzes worth 10 points each, lowest on dropped)
- Midterm 100
- Lab Practicum 100
- Final 160
There are about 30 points of extra credit given, so it is very doable to get an A in this course, just make sure you stay on top of things and do NOT fall behind.
It is a hard class and you cannot slack off. However, hopefully you're taking it because you like the brain and want to be a neurosurgeon or something similar related to the brain. If so, then you will find this class really interesting and worth it. If you hate the brain then dont even consider taking it.
I managed to get an A, and will share how I studied in hopes it can help someone else:
-> go to as many lectures as you can to try and score the extra credit. They say there's extra credit for showing up in 2 lectures, Fall 2021 it was actually 4 (2 bonus ones). They are a bit mean in how they do this (it would be either right before or right after a midterm, or the lecture 2 days before thanksgiving, ect. Which feels intentionally mean but whatever...). DO NOT BE LATE! I was 5-10 minutes late one time and did not get my bonus for showing up... In lecture they enhance what you should focus on for each slide, which makes studying easier. However, you can totally still study from the slides if you don't go to lecture. I skipped a few (its an 8am...) and still did really well and understood every slide just from reading it. So you don't have to go to lecture from a material stand point (the slides will be enough), but its worth it for the extra points and for the guidance in knowing which parts of each ppt you should pay more attention to. Sometimes they say stuff like "this picture will be on the test, know how to label it".
-> Some people swear by Anki but it does not work for me. Instead I made word doc notes of EVERYTHING. I mean copy down every last word in the slides and any pictures and organise them in a way that makes sense to you. I also cooler coded everything to help me memorise. Some of the ppts have 50+ slides and the info is a bit spread out, I normally could condense it into 6 or 7 pages per lecture with really pretty and visually organised notes. By the end of the 10 weeks I had about 100 pages in my word doc. This made it much easier to memorise the info as I could visualise where in my doc it was.
-> Use an abuse excel to make color coded tables, especially for the ascending and descending pathways, the nucleuses of the thalamus, cranial nerves, ect. You will be able to figure out which lectures this will be useful for and which ones the word doc notes alone are enough. Then make sure you can fill in your excel tables form scratch. Memorizing them all last minute will be brutal, so start a couple days before the final so that you know them all by heart. It seems daunting but if you color code and make mneumonics its pretty doable.
-> Create ppt slides or something similar where you label all the images they give. Especially the cross sections of the brain, spinal cord and thalamus. They love having you label the cross sections and this is hard to do unless you know the pictures really well! Use only the pictures form the slides as these are the ones given in exams. Print them out and practice labelling them to exhaustion, for me this was the hardest part to get down because it all looks like a blur of mush sometimes.
-> Do the practice questions LeBelle shares and also attend the review sessions by the TA (or at least look over the slides they post after). They give you a nice feel for what will be on the exams.
-> Labs: actually super helpful and easy. You could get 10/10 on each lab quiz if you reviewed the concept for a couple hours the couple days before lab. There are about 5 lab quizzes with 10 questions each. I recommend reading each ppt through in detail at least twice before the lab, and then making sure you can write out all the important words. TAKE IT WITH JEREMY (TUESDAY LAB). He is the best TA I ever had.
-> First two midterms are non cumulative and final is cumulative. So make sure you really make notes every week so that when the final comes around you only have to review your notes for the first 2 parts of the course. Reading all the slides again would be impossible... I studied about 3 days before each midterm (but made weekly notes leading up to it), and studied 1 week for the final, about 5 or 6h a day and then the couple days before I lived for this class. The exams are a combo of MC and also a good amount of fill in the blanks and one word answers (more than I expected going in). So make sure you know how to write down every term. I would highly recommend just practicing how to write each word down a few times until you know it well, because a lot of the terms are new words you never heard before. They also love to have you labelling pictures.
Time wise this is a very time consuming course, but it was my favourite class to study for! You really do learn about neuroanatomy and there's no tricks. If you know everything on the slides you get an A, no need to read or interpret extra things. Just pure memorisation for the most part.
Spend about 3-4h per lecture making good notes each week. Then start reviewing 2-3 days before each exam for a few hours each day to give yourself enough time to memorise each term well (about 1 week for the cumulative final), and you will get an A.
I absolutely hated neurosci 102 because of this professor. Took this class as an elective because I was kind of interested in neuroanatomy; unfortunately I fully regretted this decision. Previous comments are pretty accurate in terms of how this course functions: pure memorizations, and Anki is all you need. I would've been fine with all that if the professor is at least a good one; oh boy I was wrong. Janel Lebelle is indeed a snobby, spiteful, passive aggressive piece of work.
She acts "understanding" towards how hard the class can be and how overwhelming the memorizations can be, but she's just doing that for show. She probably genuinely does not care about her students (trust me you'll be able to feel it). Extremely inflexible; keeps emphasizing how rigid the structure, rules and quizzes are designed for the class but continuously screws things up.
Her lectures are boring and useless, and she is one hell of a lazy, pathetic lecturer. She acts like the nature of neuroanatomy constricts this class to pure memorization. Nah. She's just too lazy and close-minded to make this class interesting. I just wish the TAs would be the ones teaching this class; they genuinely care about conveying the lab information instead of reading out every single word on the slides like she does.
Take this class with her if you want an easy A, I guess. Just memorize the shit out of everything. An absolute waste of time and money; 99% of the course is just us the students trying to memorize shit for the sole sake of quizzing. 1% comes from the convenient accumulation of slides and texts by the lecturer. Why the hell would I choose to pay for this when I could've learn the exact same way through youtube videos? Shame on ucla for having bad stem classes like this.
This review is for all the professors of Neuro 186:
Class structure: non mandatory (and not recorded) lectures twice a week for about 1h30 each.
2 non cumulative exams, 50 multiple choice questions each, with 5-10 bonus points at the end. OPEN NOTE!! They were very relaxed during exams, and if you needed a couple extra minutes they’d let you finish. The final was held during week 10 as not to interfere with graduation.
10 extra credit points given for attending Dr. Kornblum’s stem cell activity lectures and doing a very easy group project (week 9 I think) and 5 extra credit points given for attending Dr. Lebelle’s last class on ethics (this was a surprise, it was not noted on the syllabus).
Personal experience: I believe I passed 100% on my final grade due to all the extra credit stuff. I recommend going to class for LeBelle and Kornblum because they are good lecturers and they really emphasise parts of their lectures they want you to know better. Dr. Ge is a very sweet person but personally I couldn’t understand anything she said…. I was better off just reading her slides bit by bit on my own. The material was actually super interesting and the professors were very relaxed. They took the “this is an elective and we want you to enjoy learning approach versus the making it into a stressful class approach”. Definitely recommend it as an elective. But you do have to put in some work to earn an A. However with all the easy extra credit (15% total for just showing up to 3 classes, 10% extra questions within the first exam, and 5% extra for the second exam for writing down “the most interesting thing you learned from this class”) it gives you a good grade boost even if you don’t put too much effort into studying. Realistically you can probably pass the class without showing up for lectures and just studying the ppt slides, but I recommend going as much as you can because it does make learning the stuff more engaging.
LeBelle: you probably know her teaching style from 102. Her slides sometimes are a bit extensive, but she’s a good lecturer and overall fair question maker. I did sometimes feel like she threw a lot of information at us in the slides and then just lightly dove into it during class. My suggestion would be to read the slides beforehand, maybe even make your own notes with all the information condensed into a more organised way, and then just listen during class and add emphasis to the parts of the notes she focuses on the most. She teaches for both exams. Her material is detailed enough that you can probably follow along with just ppt slides, but going to lecture will help a good amount with digesting it.
Kronblum: he is such a sweet man, but his module was the most vague. His slides are very vague, so going to his lectures is probably recommended so you don’t go in circles studying. I genuinely enjoyed listening to him talk about the topics. You can tell he really, really just wants you to do well and will mostly make easy questions. He most likely won’t finish going through his ppt, and for our final he accidentally included questions on stuff we did not cover, but he just gave everyone the points. His stem cell activity involved doing a group project that you mostly completed during class time plus many 2-3h of outside the class time. Then you present on the second lecture of the week. Again, really easy and not meant to stress you out. He even brings candy! For the second exam he’ll ask questions like “what type of candy did I bring to our stem cell activity”, so definitely go so that you get 10% extra credit for your final grade + you get those extra points for the final.
Ge: her module was my least favourite because it is very detailed and although she is such a sweet woman I couldn’t follow her at all during lecture. She speaks in a monotone with an accent, so it can be very hard to keep up. I felt so, so lost during lectures. What I recommend is putting all her ppt notes into one google doc or whatever format is easier for you. Then really reading it though like 5 times and suddenly it will all start clicking. Then either during lecture or in OH just ask her to clarify the parts of her ppt that you didn’t understand. If you know every word you’ll do well. Her module definitely required the most studying tho. Thankfully she only teaches for the first exa.
Time commitment: I would compile all their slides into notes per professor. I had about 50 pages for Ge, 50 pages for Lebelle for M1, and 80 for M2, and about 30 each time for Kornblum. These were literally all the text from their slides compiled into a format I could digest well. It would take me about 1h to 2h per ppt to do this. Then I’d go to lecture and add onto the notes based on what the professors said. So about 6h per week of time commitment.
Then I’d read my notes once or twice thoroughly before the exams. I’d study for 2-3 days for each exam. Exams were open note, so for me having all the information well organised into a format I could digest made it very easy to look stuff up during exams. The professors each make their own questions and they’re divided into sections in the exams. Dr. Ge also organises them by lectures, which makes it even easier to find stuff! I got over 100% with this method.
If you don’t want to take time to make notes you can probably still get an A from just using their ppt and adding notes onto the PPTs during lectures. You could probably also do well if you just read all the ppt and skip class… not recommended but probably doable. The extra credit opportunities really help you secure an A.
Final thoughts: interesting material, caring professors, not too hard to get an A, even with a minimal approach. But won’t be the kind of class you can study for a few hours the night before and pull off an A either.
The class wasn't as difficult as many people said it was, and the workload is definitely manageable. I found making Anki cards and reviewing them helped me the most, and I would say rewatching the lecture does not help because Dr. Lebelle just reads the slides for you during the lecture. Also, the exams are straight-forward and focus mainly on the location and function of the structures and pathways covered in class. The lab quizzes and lab practicum questions are even more straight-forward and basically do not involve any thinking, thus those are relatively easy points to get if you memorized the lab material well. Overall, this course is all memorization and it matters how you study for the class. Don't procrastinate, try to start studying for the midterms and the final as early as you can and you should do fine!