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Dr Peter Kitchener
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This subject explores the fundamental organisational features and functional principles of the nervous system: from the biology of nerve cells and neural circuits to complex behaviours. We consider simple reflex and pattern generating circuits through to sensory and motor systems, and examine the brain regions and processes involved in higher functions such as social cognition and reasoning. The multidisciplinary nature of modern neuroscience is emphasised; students should gain an appreciation of how life science disciplines (such as Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Psychobiology) have increased our understanding of nervous system function, and how Neuroscience overlaps with other areas of related study (such as Cognitive Science, Information Science, Linguistics, and Experimental and Clinical Psychology).
Intended learning outcomes
The students should:
- To gain an appreciation of how human behaviour, including complex functions like thought and emotion, is mediated by the brain.
- To understand how neurons form the building blocks of the nervous system, how they communicate with each other, how they are connected to form elementary circuits and how they store information.
- To appreciate the fundamentals of systems underlying sensory perception, including the transduction of sensory stimuli (for example light and sound) and the processing of sensory information by neuronal populations leading, ultimately to perception, and to gain an understanding of how the nervous system initiates and controls movements of the body.
- To appreciate the plastic nature of the nervous system, including how it adapts to changing environments and to ageing, disease and injury.
On completion the students should have developed skills in:
- Independent critical thought.
- Understanding different experimental approaches to problems and the context in which studies have been performed.
- Analysing complex scientific problems and interpreting experimental findings.
- Understanding the interrelationship of ideas and technologies in multi-disciplinary science.
Last updated: 20 February 2024