How Our Experiences Shape Our Brains: An Experimental Approach

Course Description

This course will help you 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, you 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As part of the course, you will simulate scientific work by analyzing real unpublished data and interpreting their results.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. You will be asked to develop testable questions and use the data provided to create a scientific poster that puts your findings into the greater scientific context.

Among the behaviors we will be observing in the course are animals’ responses to fearful situations, anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors, escape behaviors, reward behaviors, and decision making.

By the end of this course, you will:
• Understand 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

Through this course, you will get in-depth knowledge of behavioral neuroscience and a firsthand look at science in action.


An understanding of high school biology would be beneficial. This course recommends a laptop for course-related programming, games/simulations, etc. Please note that some devices (e.g., Chromebooks) do not allow software downloads onto a desktop and so will not accommodate the specific needs of this course. If you have questions about this requirement please reach out to [email protected]


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 20, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Gabriela Manzano-Nieves
Course Number: 10020