Brain & Mind
Brain and Mind 2023-24
School Of Human And Behavioural Sciences
Module - Semester 2
Brain and Mind is an introduction to the functional anatomy of the human brain. It will review brain cells, structures, and networks, and relate these systems to both objective phenomena and subjective experiences that comprise the human mind. Students will take part in 11 interactive lectures that use human brain biology as an anchor for exploring and understanding perception and sensation, language understanding and production, emotion, and higher cognitive abilities, as well the way in these phenomena differ from those exhibited by animal minds (or not). Moreover, we take every reasonable step to deliver a hands-on Brain Anatomy Practical session, in which students are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hold a real human brain in their hands. The ultimate goal of Brain and Mind is not only to make you realise that you have a beautiful, lively, highly sophisticated organ capable of wonders sitting in your skull, but also that you can expand its abilities beyond your wildest dreams.
We will begin the module with a General Introduction to the concept of mental representation, i.e., the basic concept behind that of mind. Then, Chapter 1 (split in two parts over two weeks) will be devoted to the anatomy of the brain, which is a prerequisite for you to understand the biological bases of Psychology. When possible, brain structures are described in relation to their function or at least some aspects of their speculated reason for existing. Chapter 2 (in two parts also) will look at the elementary unit of thinking in your brain, the neuron. Then, we will start reviewing particular aspects of normal and abnormal human behaviour and relate behaviour back to specific brain structures. Chapter 3 will focus our attention on sound and language, and it will remind you of aspects of language production and comprehension covered in PPP1009 in Semester 1 but with a stronger focus on the brain. Chapters 4-6 will be guest lectures given by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Oliver Turnbull, a renowned expert on emotion and executive function, who will address the core topics of emotion in his first lecture. He will explore consciousness in his second lecture and, in the third, he will tell you about animal minds and how they differ from the human mind, or not. In Chapter 7, we will look at vision, with a special emphasis on human face perception. Finally, in Chapter 8, we will introduce some important aspects of functional cerebral asymmetry in relation to the main division of the human brain into hemispheres and propose an idea to conceptualise the human brain not as one, single entity, but rather two, three, four, or more interconnected systems.
Moreover, we will be taking every reasonable step to deliver hands-on Brain Anatomy Practical sessions, in which you are given an opportunity to hold a real human brain in your hands.
Throughout the module, we will avoid very detailed descriptions of the mechanisms underlying human cognitive function and rather introduce general ideas about ways in which we can relate psychological function to brain anatomy and physiology. The whole course will serve as a foundation for the wide range of courses in which the brain (as a biological organ) is considered.
Our general 'course philosophy' is as follows. The amount of information your brain can store is essentially unlimited (or at least we adopt the view that we don't know (yet) how much information it can store). The more you read, explore, look at images, watch videos, and discuss ideas with others, the more you will learn, remember, and bloom mentally. In fact, the more you learn, the more you enable your brain to learn! The ultimate goal of Brain and Mind is thus to not only make you realise that you have a beautiful, lively, highly sophisticated organ capable of wonders sitting in your skull, but also that you can expand its abilities beyond your wildest dreams. A motivated brain has the privilege of being able to evolve itself!
-threshold - (D+) Adequate answer to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.
-good -(B) Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material.
-excellent -(A) Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area clarity of argument and expression. Deep insight into theoretical issues
- Demonstrate a basic understanding of structure-function relationships for major anatomical structures in the human brain.
- Illustrate the principles of the clinical approach, i.e. the characterization of a link between brain lesions and neuropsychological symptoms.
- Localise the essential landmarks on external anatomy and common sections of the brain, and understand the principles of functiional subdivisions of the human cortex.
- Name the different parts of a neuron and show an understanding of the fundamental principles of neural communication.
- Understand the importance of obtaining converging evidence from different sources (anatomy, physiology, lesion data, functional imaging and/or electrophysiology) in order to specify structure/function relationships.
- Use a basic neuroscience vocabulary and demonstrate a capacity of orientation in the brain organ. Major subdivisions (such as the temporal lobe) should be known as well as essential subregions (e.g. primary auditory cortex).
Exam (Centrally Scheduled)
There will be one Final Exam only, with 3 parts: 1) a set of multiple choice questions, 2) figure labelling, and ) a set of short answer questions.