These are very unique times for brain research. The aperitif for the course will thus highlight the present “brain-excitements” worldwide. You will then become intimately acquainted with the operational principles of neuronal “life-ware” (synapses, neurons and the networks that they form) and consequently, on how neurons behave as computational microchips and how they plastically and constantly change - a process that underlies learning and memory. Recent heroic attempts to realistically simulate large cortical networks in the computer will be highlighted (e.g., “the Blue Brain Project”) and processes related to perception, cognition and emotions in the brain will be discussed. For dessert we will deliberate on the future of brain research, including the questions of “brain and art”, consciousness and free will. For more information see the course promo below and read “About the course.”
- Week 1 - Brain Excitements for the 21st Century
Welcome to synapses, neurons and brains!
- Week 2 - The Materialistic Mind - Your Brain's Ingredients
This module's purpose is to acquaint you with "The materialistic mind – your brain’s ingredients". You will become intimately acquainted with the beauty and variety of neurons – the elementary building block/microchips of the brain. We will highlight a big con...
- Week 3 - Electrifying Brains –Passive Electrical Signals
In this module we will discuss the "Electrifying brain – passive electrical signals". We will show that neurons are electrical device and learn what enables neurons to become “electrifying”. Here we will describe only the passive (vs. active) electrical proper...
- Week 4 - Electrifying Brains – Active Electrical Spikes
In this module we are covering "Electrifying brains – active electrical spikes". In the previous module we learned that: 1-neurons are electrical devices, 2 - that the membrane behaves as an RC circuit, 3 - that synapses operate by opening a new cross-membrane...
- Week 5 - Neurons as Plastic/Dynamic Devices
This module discusses "Neurons as plastic/changing devices". Probably the most unique aspect of the nervous tissue is its amazing capability to constantly and adaptively change in response to a challenging environment; this capability enables us to learn and t...
- Week 6 - Cable Theory and Dendritic Computations
By now you are well equipped for a successful dive into this module's topic - "Cable theory and dendritic computations ". We are ready to make a conceptual “leap” and to discuss a fascinating topic. Namely, how the anatomical and electrical machinery of neuron...
- Week 7 - Cortical Networks - Out of the Blue Project
This module is based on what you have learned in modules 3 to 6: how single cells function, how they are connected via (plastic) synapses to each other and how they might perform specific computations. Here we actually connect a network of neurons (using the “...
- Week 8 - Perception, Action, Cognition and Emotions
During this module we will have a special lecture which will be given by Prof. Israel Nelken from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who will discuss "Perception, action, cognition and emotions". Until today we have focused mainly on the function of single ce...
- Week 9 - From Synapses to Free Will?
And then there are the “high level” fascinating questions that only recently brain researchers dared to ask. Do we have free will? And what is this subjective feeling of consciousness? These old-issues, previously dealt solely within the humanities and social ...
- Week 10 - Course Conclusion
Within a short period of time you have mastered a great deal of material and we very much hope that you have enjoyed this experience of learning about the brain by using its unique plastic capabilities. We want to thank you for your active participation, for...