How Our Experiences Shape Our Brains: An Experimental Approach

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 28, 2021 - July 21, 20216/28 - 7/213 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineGabriela Manzano-Nieves

Course Description

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

This lecture and project based course, will help students acquire an understanding of scientific research and the methods used in scientific discoveries. We will discuss past scientific discoveries and ongoing work to obtain an understanding of what is currently known and how science is conducted. Through the lectures, students will gain insight into 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 affect brain activity and subsequent decisions. As part of the course students will simulate scientific work by analyzing real unpublished data and interpreting their results. Data showing the impact of sex, early life stress, and age will be made available to students. Students are expected to come up with testable questions and use the data to create a scientific poster that puts their findings into the greater scientific context. Among the behaviors we will be observing in the course are; animal’s responses to fearful situations, anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors, escape behaviors, reward behaviors and decision making. Through this course students will get an in-depth knowledge of behavioral neuroscience and a firsthand look of science in action.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: By the end of this course, students will be able to: • have an understanding of how the brain influences behavior and how our past experiences can shape brain development and function • gain a deep understanding of the experimental methods used in the field of neuroscience • appreciate the differences between observational and experimental analysis in science • have a basic understanding of scientific research

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

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBN0932

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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