How Our Experiences Shape Our Brains: An Experimental Approach

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Our brains are the driving force of our actions but our environment and past decisions can greatly shape our brains. In this hands-on and lab-based course we will examine the bidirectional link between brain and behavior. We will take advantage of innate and learned behaviors to experiment and ultimately attempt to understand how our past experiences can change our brains, leading us to different actions in the future.

This hands-on and experiment based course, will help students acquire an understanding of scientific research and the methods used in scientific discoveries. We will use past scientific discoveries to design and carryout experiments in a lab setting. Through experimentation, we will see how different parts of the brain respond when we behave in a particular way. We will use various species of animals and brain specimens to understand how learning can effect brain activity and subsequent decisions. As part of the course students will carry out their own experiments, obtaining and analyzing the data as well as creating plausible explanations for their results. Among the behaviors we will be observing are; animal’s responses to fearful situations, to an intruder, and to changes in temperature and light. Students will also be exposed to the use of optogenetics, a novel technique which allows researchers to manipulate brain activity and behavior through the use of light.

By the end of this course, students will:
- have an understanding of how the brain influences behavior and how our past experiences can shape the brain’s influence
- gain a deep understanding of the experimental methods used in the field of neuroscience
- appreciate the differences between observational and experimental analysis in science

Prerequisites: An understanding of high school biology would be beneficial.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBN0932
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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