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The Anatomy of Human Cognition: A Neuropsychological Approach

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Much of what is known about the neuroanatomy of human cognition has been inferred from observing how behavior changes as a result of injury or disease. In this course, students will learn about the brain structures and systems involved in memory, language, attention, and executive function by reviewing case studies of patients sustaining brain injuries or disease. By introducing students to the methods used by psychologists, doctors, and research scientists to study human cognition, students interested in the brain sciences can explore career possibilities in both applied and basic scientific research.

Each week we will focus on one of the four major topics of language, memory, executive function, and attention. Daily classes will investigate a disease or injury profile that impairs the normal function of our cognitive system of the week (e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will be discussed during memory week). Students will become familiar with the behavioral and neural effects of injury through a combination of class lecture, video clips, and case studies. For each disease/injury introduced, students will view medical images (MRI or PET scans) of affected brain structures and will also learn about a psychological test or other assessment used during diagnosis or psychiatric evaluation. Neuroanatomy relevant to the disease will be introduced in lecture and reinforced during the group imaging exercises. Supplementary in-class reading exercises using scientific research articles will guide students through the process of comprehending challenging material. Each week will culminate in a review session and small group differential diagnosis activity in which students will apply knowledge and skills acquired over the week to the design of a plan for the treatment/research of a "mystery" disease. In addition, over the duration of the course, students will build their own model brain using modeling clay and other materials to synthesize and reinforce neuroanatomical concepts learned in lecture and imaging activities.

Students should be familiar with the gross cortical and subcortical anatomy of the human brain by the end of the course. In addition, they should be able to relate the cognitive domains studied in the course to relevant brain anatomy. Most importantly, the study methods and research skills applied in class activities should be familiar enough to students to permit fluid application to other questions of interest, or material encountered in challenging future coursework.

There are no specific course prerequisites for this class. However, some of the reading material will be difficult and it is suggested that reading/verbal learning skills meet grade-level proficiency.

* Please note: This course has a Supplemental fee of $50.00 *