The course is now coming to an end, only the exam is left. Throughout autumn and now early winter, we have learned a lot on the matter of neuroscience, and answered quizzes based on our knowledge. As well as attended excursions to relevant places and written this blog on matters related to this course.
On the first week some basic terminology was showcased, such as what anterior and posterior mean, as well as explaining how the course is arranged. Some of the structure of the brain, what each area generally is responsible for, was shown in images. A few of the basic structural components that make up the brain, neurons and protons, were also addressed briefly.
This was further elaborated on the second week, what makes up a neuron was showcased, as well as connections from neuron to neuron, synapses. How proteins are utilized, for example in creation of action potentials which allows the neurons to perform a task, was also in the second week. The first assignment on brain anatomy was due on the second week, usually another assignment was due each week after.
Third and fourth week were about transmission of information in the brain between neurons or between synapses. Synapses transmit a signal, chemical or electrical, between neurons. They contain receptors and neurotransmitters which allows this to happen. Listed were the most common neurotransmitters (GABA) and receptors that receive proteins which trigger an event and the different events that each receptor is responsible for.
Fifth lecture was about different effects of chemicals, and their receptors were explored in detail. Such as dopamine, and its motivational behavior. Sixth explained the complex process of how the human eye and brain process sight. Which involves activation photopigment, which activates a G-protein along a disk membrane, in turn activating an enzyme which sends a message to the optic nerve to the occipital cortex of the brain.
Hearing and how it works trough hair cells being affected by certain frequencies that travel through air was addressed in lecture seven. And localization of sound is done the brain which receives sounds differently as they propagate in our ears depending on the altitude and latitude of the sound in comparison to our heads. Our first excursion was in Elekta, about their innovative brain imaging technology and their history as a company was done on the same week 44.
How each area of the brain’s motor center controls a specific area of the brain, and how the process of the signal getting from brain to the muscles works was in lecture 8. The spine is used separately in balancing, it handles the automatic process of walking and sitting and standing by itself, not in the brain. Another excursion involved effecting the brain trough sending electric impulses to have the desired positive effects. And finally lecture 9 involved the connections of the brain, how each area connects to the other, seen below.
Final excursion was specialized in measuring the brain activity of babies. The final exercise had us perform a measurement of brain activity to a willing subject.
What each of us got out of this course:
Mikko: This course was a great introduction to my new major. If my interest in neuroscience was earlier specific to the needs of my grand plan of cyborgization, I now have a much wider appreciation for the field. The sheer complexity of the human brain fascinates me, and I’m eager to learn more about it. Getting a better understanding of the brain has also played an important role of my personal thoughts on philosophy. Epistemologically, it is interesting to see how many layers of interpretation and filtering all our perceptions go through before reaching our consciousness. Consciousness itself is also a huge philosophical question, and I think I have much clearer view towards it now after this course.
Markus: I liked the course, it introduced the subject of neuroscience, or brain structure in an interesting and not too obtuse manner. It cemented my choice of Major, and should step stone very well to future studies. It helped me understand much more deeply how consciousness and all other processes in our brains work. I thank the teachers and lecturers, and my group of fellow students and hope that one day I will be able to work in this field.
Meo: The course provided a lot of insight to the working principles of the human brain, which added nicely to my previous knowledge on human physiology. The topics were broad and left me with more questions than answers, which I think is a good thing. The discussion, blogs and the information provided by the book raised many thoughts and opinions on how we, perhaps, should go about studying neuroscience and especially developing treatment methods. It seems to me that we tend to be far too simplistic in this quest. I believe that the blogs provided a good medium for self-reflection, which I find is an important tool in studying the brain. I’m highly motivated to study more and strongly believe that studying the brain needs professionals from many fields. That’s why I’m grateful that this has been taken into account with the course staff, too!