HONR 288O Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Dr. Henk Haarmann, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
As humans we have the unique ability and perhaps obligation to use our minds to understand and improve our minds. This includes determining how our mental functions are both enabled and limited by the properties of our brains. Studying the latter, that is, the neurobiological bases of mental functions, such as attention, memory, language, emotion, perception, movement control, and consciousness, is the goal of the field of Cognitive Neuroscience. The basic research insights of this field allow us to address deep philosophical questions about who we are as human beings, while at the same time providing the perspect of better diagnosis and treatment for neuro-psychological and neuro-psychiatric patients with impairments of the brain and individuals with learning disabilities.
The following are examples of questions that will be addressed. How integrated are our minds? Is it true that our left and right cerebral hemispheres process information in a qualitatively different manner, for example, analytically versus holistically? Do the parts of the brain that support emotion and rational thought operate relatively independently or do they interact? Is it possible for the brain to process information separately at an unconscious versus conscious level? If a person becomes blind, can that person's visual brain assume another function, for example, recognizing Braille symbols through touch? Is it possible to reduce the confabulations of a schizophrenia patient by providing medication that improves the ability of the working memory areas in the brain to support coherent thought? In addition, the course will discuss the anatomy of the brain, the functioning of nerve cells, and the methods for studying mental functions in the brain, including functional brain imaging, brain electrical recording and stimulation, and cognitive testing of patients.
Teaching is in the form of lectures with many slides of the information processing brain presented in a computerized teaching lab. There will be a non-cumulative mid-term and final exam with short-answer questions. In addition, there is one major assignment in which students will be split up in teams. Finally, students will have the opportunity to visit a brain electrical recording lab during the testing of a subject. These visits will be organized on an individual basis to avoid crowding the laboratory.
M.S. Cazzaniga, R.B. Irvy, G.R. Mangun, Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind
CORE--Life Science, non-lab