Cognitive Neuroscience: From Neuron to Higher Order Cognition

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Cognitive Neuroscience: From Neuron to Higher Order Cognition

We are biological creatures, and the mind is the product of brain structure and function. This is why psychologists are interested in brains - or, more generally, in the nervous system that enables us to perceive the world around us, process information, and control the way we move and interact with our environment. In this section of the course we will dip into the various levels at which we can understand the biological underpinnings of the mind: starting with how single brain cells (neurons) work, we will go on to how neurons communicate with each other, how they form large networks that carry out coordinated activities, and how this activity ends up constituting mental functions such as memory and perception, which are covered in more detail in later sections of the course. We will also learn about brain anatomy and structure, and how these relate to various functions. Throughout all this, we will pay special attention to how we know what we know - in other words, what research methods allow us to make discoveries about the brain - and how things can go wrong, resulting in neurological and psychiatric conditions. 

Lecture No 4
The mind as a biological system
Why do psychologists need to know about the brain? Introduction to the nervous system: From the neurons that are its building blocks to the gross structure of the brain.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
23/09/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 5
Neurophysiology, or how neurons talk to each other
Neural communication: Electrical and chemical signals in the brain; action potentials, neurotransmitters and synapses.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
25/09/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 6
The chemistry of brain and mind
The relation between different neurotransmitters and different mental functions; what can go wrong at the microscopic level; the effects and mechanisms of drug activity.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
27/09/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 7
Neural computation and the structure of the nervous system
Is the brain really like a computer? Neural networks and neural modeling; Structure and branches of the central and peripheral nervous system.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
30/09/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 8
Deficits and diseases of the brain
What brain damage can teach us about the relation between neural structures and psychological functions
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
02/10/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 9
Higher order cognition
How does brain activity generate high-level psychological functions and create consciousness? How do different research methods provide complementary lines of evidence about the way things work? And does normal functioning break down in disorders of consciousness?
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
04/10/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this section, students should be able to:

  • Summarise the research methods used to study the brain
  • Outline the structure and function of the nervous system
  • Discuss the effect of brain damage on behaviour
  • Outline the relation between brain activity and psychological functions.
  • Discuss biological influences on behaviour

The Cognitive Neuroscience lectures will draw quite widely on the whole Psychology 1 textbook. Additional reading for some specific topics will be given in the lectures.

Textbook: Schacter et al., Psychology (Second European edition, 2016)

Assigned reading from the textbook:

• Chapter 1: From “Beyond behaviourism” to the end of “the brain meets the mind” (pages 24-29)

• Chapter 2: Establishing causality in the brain (page 73-74)

• Chapter 3: The whole chapter

• Chapter 5: Long-term memory (pages 186-187) and Storage: maintaining different kinds of memory over time (193-196)


In addition, for the tutorial: Papers posted in course page on Learn