Understanding the Brain

People are attracted to neurobiology because they want to understand processes like intelligence, emotion, learning, and memory. However, the brain is challenging to study as a whole. After all, it’s the most complicated structure in the universe! Faced with this challenge, biologists focus first on the individual nerve cells, or neurons, that carry information from point to point at speeds of up to 270 mph. These are the functional units of the nervous system.

In this course, students will begin by learning about neurons and their cellular companions, the glia, and how the glia use electrical signals to communicate with one another. Then they will use what they have learned to understand the spinal cord and finally the brain. They will learn how our senses tell the brain what is happening in the world and how the brain decides upon an appropriate response, which might include running, laughing, throwing a punch, or going to sleep. Along the way, they will meet cranky scientists, people with extraordinary abilities and disabilities, and some extremely poisonous animals.

Live Classes: Wednesdays, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Student Support: The instructor is available via email.

Materials: Those students who wish to do an optional brain dissection can purchase a sheep brain from Carolina Biological Supply. (Click here for that web page.)

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