This course covers the main research areas and methods used in investigating the workings of the brain. The course will provide a good background in brain structure and function both at the molecular level and the cellular level. The course will consider neuroscience as it relates to behaviour by asking how mental processes such as perception, memory, language and emotion are implemented within the brain.
a) Provide an overview of main research areas of neuroscience
b) Provide a sound structural basis at both the molecular and cellular level for understanding the nature of a brain function
c) Provide a significant body of knowledge about how the function of the brain relates to behaviour
d) Introduce methods in neuroscience, including lesion studies and imaging techniques
e) Critical evaluation of significant findings in neuroscience
Week 16 (L1). The basic concepts of neuroscience and neuropsychology.
The historical development of method and ideas in neuroscience and neuropsychology from the ancient world to the present day. Metaphors for the brain in relation to the development of other technology. Debates and controversies in neuroscience and neuropsychology (dualism, holism vs. localism, modularism vs. connectionism).
Week 17 (L2). Neuroanatomy - The basic terminology of neuroanatomy, main subdivisions of the nervous system, surrounding structures (skull, blood vessels, meninges, ventricles) and their importance. Main structures: spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, midbrain, thalamus, basal ganglia, cortex.
Week 18 (L3). Journal club - Discussion and analysis of a neuropsychological journal article (including preparation for coursework 1).
Week 19 (L4). The cellular foundations of the nerve function
Different types of nerve cells and their functions: neurons and glia cells, the main components of the nerve cell, action potential, impulse conduction, myelinisation. Synaptic transmission: receptors, neurotransmitter systems, long term potentiation and inhibition, modulation of the transmitter function through psychoactive drugs
Week 20 (L5). The methods of neuroscience I - animal modals and lesions studies.
Animal studies: rationale, behavioural studies, single cell / multiunit recording, rasters, tuning curves and refractory period. Example: Hippocampus and spatial memory (Place cells, Long term potentiation). Human lesion studies: What is a brain lesion? Tumours, strokes, other neurological diseases. Studying brain damaged populations (issues and problems, some specific function deficits). Factors influencing the impact of lesion on brain function.
Week 21 (L6). The methods of neuroscience II - studying the normal brain.
Structural (X-ray, CT, MRI) and functional (SPECT, fMRI, PET, NIRS) neuroimaging: promises and limitations, subtraction and correlation analysis, regions of interest, sources of artefacts. Stimulating the brain - TMS, tDCS. Followed by a lab-based practical introduction to NIRS & TMS.
Week 22 (L7). The methods of neuroscience III - studying the normal brain (contd).
Electrophysiological methods: electroencephalography (EEG), event-related potentials (ERP), magnetic encephalography (MEG). Controlling the brain - neurofeedback. Followed by a lab-based practical introduction to EEG & neurofeedback.
Week 23 (L8). Functional neuroanatomy I - sensory, perceptual and motor functions
Visual perception (visual pathways/streams), auditory perception (including speech perception), tactile perception. Multisensory interactions and plasticity. The basics of motor control (primary motor cortex tuning, EMG recording, reflexes.
Week 24 (L9). Functional neuroanatomy II - higher order functions (attention, memory, consciousness).
Consciousness (The necessity of V1 involvement, higher centres, feedback mechanisms, The "Hard/Easy Problems"). Frontal lobe and/or executive processes, how to diagnose them and the dangers of over-correlation. Memory including encoding, "HERA" and storage.
The neural correlates of attention (Neural correlates, fronto-parietal network(s), attentional load, feedback mechanism, unilateral neglect).
Week 25 (L10). Issues in neuroscience - including "blobology", ethics and neural enhancement. Group dicussions.
Learning & Teaching Methods
Lectures (2 hours per week)
100 per cent Coursework Mark
2 PIECES OF COURSEWORK:
a) Critical review of a journal article
b) Essay / project proposal
Exam Duration and Period
MSc Neuropsychology students.
MSc in Psychological Research Methods scheme students.
Optional for MSc in Psychology
Last updated 11/9/09 - GC/Les
- Recommended texts
Zillmer, E. & Spiers, M. (2001). Principles of Neuropsychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Smith, E. & Kosslyn, S. (2007). Cognitive Psychology: Mind and brain. New Jersey, Pearson Education, Inc.
Additionally, recommended articles for the course will be distributed during the lectures