This course is designed to serve as a first dive into neuroscience. We will examine the physics and chemistry underlying ion channels, neurons, and how neurons create action potentials, which are the electrical pulses that send information down a neuron’s axon. Students will study synapses, which are the connections between neurons, as the structure and flexibility of neuronal connections is important for many important functions, including learning, memory, how we handle emotions, and addiction. This course will investigate these concepts through physical models of neurons and interactive online mathematical models of neurons and synapses.
Next, students will apply this information to sensory and motor systems, supplemented by in-home experimentation. We will then analyze brain structure and function, focusing on learning, memory, language, communication, and other behavior. Students will dissect sheep brains, observe and interpret animal behavior, and perform memory tests.
Finally, we will examine brain development, the question of brain gender, and investigate a variety of brain diseases and disorders. Students will research and present on the neurological disorder of their choice, relating the disease to problems with the ion channels and neurons that we studied at the start of the class.