Special Announcement: Information Session 18 January 2018
Come to our course information session on Thursday, January 18th. It will take place at 4 p.m. in WIlliam James Hall 105 (small lecture hall off lobby to the right), and all are welcome to join us. Our spring seminar instructors will briefly describe their plans for their courses and answer any questions you may have.
updated 6 February 2018: new meeting location for MBB 980H
updated 26 January 2018: new meeting location for MBB 980R
updated 8 January 2018: new course description for MBB 980T
updated 5 January 2018: new meeting times and locations for MBB 980M and 980O
updated 18 December 2017: added MBB S-93; added divisional attribution for 980R; added class locations for all spring seminars; updated meeting times for HEB 1312 and 1362; and added missing meeting times for HEB 1417 and PSY 980je, 1303, and 1355
updated 22 November 2017: added four new seminars, MBB 980Q, 980R, 980S, 980T
updates, 1 September: added departmental seminars from history of science
updates, 30 August: added departmental seminars from human evolutionary biology
updates, 24 August: added new location for MBB 980F; added departmental seminars from neurobiology, philosophy, and psychology
updated 23 August 2017 for introductory information and MBB seminars, with departmental seminars forthcoming
Each MBB student is required to take an Interdisciplinary Seminar during the junior year. These seminars are discussion-based courses that usually meet once a week for a few hours, during which students consider important readings and research on a topic or set of topics related to mind/brain/behavior. In lieu of exams, students usually prepare papers based on library or laboratory research, and grades are usually based on these papers and class participation.
In choosing a seminar, you might select a seminar closely allied to your interests to allow you to deepen your specialized knowledge, or you might take one in a more distant area to gain an appreciation of the varying perspectives and methodologies within MBB.
The seminars offered by the MBB program, listed in the catalog as Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980 courses, explore questions in mind/brain/behavior whose answers will require the perspectives and findings of several fields. Unless otherwise noted, their enrollments are limited to 15, with enrollment priority given to juniors in MBB tracks or in the MBB secondary field, and they provide four units of course credit. In addition to the seminars listed currently, we expect to offer several additional seminars in the spring.
To enroll in an MBB 980 seminar, attend the first class meeting. Your instructor will explain the process to be admitted, often including a lottery. Before the course registration deadline of September 7th/January 26th, your instructor will inform you if you have a space in the seminar. If you have been admitted, add the course to your Crimson Cart. Once your concentration advisor has removed the advising hold, your instructor will approve your enrollment online. If you have questions about this process, you may contact Shawn Harriman at email@example.com.
In addition to the MBB 980 courses, some departmental courses also qualify, and are listed below after the MBB seminars.
Some tracks, including psychology, will want to approve which course a student takes from those listed below. Neurobiology students are expected to choose only from among the MBB 980 courses (no departmental options).
Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation (spring 2018)
Sara Lazar / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980S, Mondays 4-6 p.m., William James B4 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution TBA, course ID 207901, class # 21595
Buddhist philosophy describes a model of how the mind works, as well as a method, mindfulness meditation, that can be used as a tool to transform consciousness and reduce mental distress. Neuroscientists have begun to study the impact of meditation on brain structure and function, often using Buddhist philosophy to guide their hypotheses. We will review and discuss how the science relates to Buddhist philosophy, using the four foundations of mindfulness as the primary framework. We will also compare and contrast the Buddhist model with modern scientific models of how conscious experience is created in the brain, in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of consciousness that integrates philosophy, neuroscience, and personal experience. No prior knowledge of Buddhism is required. The course will be a mixture of lecture, discussion of two primary scientific articles that are assigned each week, and formal powerpoint presentations by students. Students will write a final paper on a topic of their choice that is relevant to the themes of the course.
Creativity Research: Madmen, Geniuses, and Harvard Students (fall 2017)
Shelley Carson / Psychology, email@example.com
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980f, Tuesdays 1-3 p.m., NEW LOCATION: William James 303
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 128215, class # 13410
Examines human creativity from three perspectives: a) empirical research sources, b) case studies of eminent creative achievers, and c) ourselves as creative subjects. Topics include the definition and measurement of creativity, the creative process, the neuroscience of creativity, the creative personality, the role of family life and culture in creativity, the relationship of creativity to IQ, gender differences, and the relationship of creativity to psychopathology.
Dopamine (fall 2017)
Barak Caine / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980l, Wednesdays 4-6 p.m., CGIS South S-001
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Sciences and Engineering/Applied Sciences, course ID 160758, class # 15347
A Parkinson's victim regains control of her body with l-dopa. A schizophrenic man paralyzed by fear & hallucinations is freed from a mental institution by clozapine. A meth addict lies, cheats & steals, ending up emaciated & dead. Miracles and monstrosities, all related to a single molecule - dopamine. The overall goal of this tutorial is to focus on a single subject, a single chemical neurotransmitter, and remaining on that topic to proceed through three phases of study, as follows. First, to orient students to tools from multiple traditional disciplines: synaptic mechanisms of neurotransmission, neuropharmacology, behavioral pharmacology, neuroanatomy, and psychiatry. Second, to elicit interest and curiosity through examples of specific and important disease states: Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia, and Drug Addiction. Third, to gain an historical perspective up to and including a current and sophisticated consensus (i.e., review articles of recent years). Socratic debate will be prioritized in the classroom. The main discipline presented in this course is pharmacology, specifically, in vivo pharmacology and more specifically, behavioral pharmacology in humans. Pharmacology has traditionally been a graduate-level subject and rarely present in undergraduate curricula. That is a shame, because pharmacology has played and continues to play a key role in the history of neuroscience, in many applications of clinical medicine, and in the relationships among “mind, brain, and behavior.” Moreover, students with an interest in medical sciences and careers will find extremely useful the tools and concepts of pharmacology, from elucidating mechanisms of action using basic research, to applications in the clinic including analgesic, antipsychotic, anti-Parkinsonian, stimulant, and anesthetic drugs. My philosophy of teaching is that 70% of the work can be completed in the classroom. I believe the rest can be completed in 1-2 hours per week outside of the classroom. Mostly to study your own notes from class together with an outline prepared and distributed by Dr. Caine, and then to complete the semi-weekly writing assignment (“take-home” quizzes, open book, open note, short answer, six assignments in all.).
Functional Neuroimaging of Psychiatric Disorders: Insights into the Human Brain-Mind in Health and Disease (spring 2018)
David Silbersweig / Medical School / email@example.com with Marie-Christine Nizzi / Psychology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980m, Tuesdays 1-3 p.m., William James B-4 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Sciences and Engineering/Applied Sciences, course ID 160759, class # 14335
Functional brain imaging has revolutionized the study of systems-level behavioral neuroscience and psychiatric disorders, through the ability to localize and characterize distributed brain activity directly associated with perception, cognition, emotion and behavior in disorders where there are not gross brain lesions. This seminar will introduce students to translational neuroimaging methods at the interface of neuroscience, psychology and medicine. It will cover recent and ongoing advances in our understanding of fronto-limbic-subcortical brain circuitry across the range of psychiatric disorders (e.g. mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, addictions). It will discuss new, emerging biological (as opposed to descriptive) taxonomies and conceptualizations of mental illness and its treatment. It will explore the implications of such knowledge for issues such as consciousness, meaning, free will, emotion, resilience, and religiosity. It will incorporate clinical observations, scientific data and readings, and examine future directions in brain-mind medicine. Class Note: Additional class meetings for site visits to be arranged.
Magic and the Mind (Study Abroad in Trento, Italy, summer 2017)
Gustav Kuhn - Goldsmiths, University of London
Mind, Brain, and Behavior S-100 (Harvard Summer School)
4 units of course credit, combined with S-100 gives Science of Living Systems credit in General Education, class # 33799
Magic is one of the most enduring forms of entertainment, and the ease by which magicians trick us highlights our mind's limitations. This course explores the psychological illusions magicians use to trick our mind as well as the unique emotional experiences that these illusions elicit. Among the question we address are: What is magic? What role does magic play in our day-to-day lives (such as superstitions)? Can you trust your eyes? Can you trust your memories? How can we unconsciously influence your behavior? What is hypnosis? Can you detect lies and deception? The main objectives of this course are to use magical illusions as a vehicle to discuss advances in our understanding of the mind and thus bring cognitive psychology/neuroscience to life. While you learn about some of the secrets in magic, the main emphasis lies in understanding the brain mechanisms involved in our everyday illusions and the fascinating and unexpected reality of our internal world.
Neuroaesthetics (fall 2017)
Nancy Etcoff / Medical School / email@example.com
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980n, Thursdays 1-3 p.m., Northwest Building B104
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 161267, class # 16920
Focuses on neuroaesthetics, an emerging field offering a scientific perspective on the nature of art and the ways that art reveals human nature. Integrates findings from neuroscience, psychology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, and scholarship in the arts and humanities. Beings with a brief history of ideas on aesthetics, art, beauty, and pleasure. Considers the neural underpinnings of response to art in the brain's reward system and default network. Among the questions considered: Why are people drawn to art that is neither conventionally beautiful nor entirely pleasurable? Is art a vehicle for simulating experiences and understanding other minds? What does it mean to "enjoy" sad music or chills and thrills in response to fiction or film? Can art promote well-being? The course will range across the arts but will focus on fiction, film, and music, and response to art rather than its creation.
Neuroeconomics (Study Abroad in Trento, Italy, summer 2018)
Giorgio Coricelli / Economics and Psychology/University of Southern California
Mind, Brain, and Behavior S-93 (Harvard Summer School)
4 units of course credit, combined with MBB S-100 gives Science of Living Systems credit in General Education, class # 34147
Economists have produced remarkable theories describing how people make decisions, but, until recently, their approach treated the human brain as a "black box." The introduction of neuroscience tools (brain imaging, neuropsychological studies, single-cell recording) and the discovery of evidence about the importance of emotional and social states in economic decision making are revealing new perspectives in the field of behavioral economics. This new discipline combines economics, psychology, and neuroscience in order to study decision making in individual and social contexts. Students learn about economic decision-making principles (e.g., choice under risk and uncertainty, intertemporal choices, bargaining, cooperation, and competition); lectures and laboratory sessions cover contemporary theories of behavioral economics as well as the application of methods from neuroscience (e.g., single-cell recording, fMRI, TMS) to the study of decision making. Limited enrollment.
Of Mice and Microbes: How Microbes Shape Animal Behavior (spring 2018)
Christopher Baker / Organismic and Evolutionary Biology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980Q, Wednesdays 1-3 p.m., William James B4 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution TBA, course ID 207089, class # 21593
Animals constantly interact with an astonishing diversity of microbes, far outstripping the animals themselves in terms of cell counts or genetic content. While many interactions may be fleeting encounters in a shared environment, it is the capacity for symbiosis that makes animal-‐microbe interactions so special. Microbial symbioses range from highly antagonistic relationships to intimate obligate mutualisms. Across that spectrum, coevolution produces some of the most elaborate adaptations to be found in biology. This course explores a variety of animal-‐microbe symbioses through the lens of animal behavioral ecology. Topics may include gut microbiomes and host nutrition; microbial agriculture; host chemical defenses; mind-‐controlling parasitoids; host chemical communications; host behavior and symbiont acquisition; and the gut-‐ brain axis and dysbiosis. The course will explore both proximate mechanisms and ultimate explanations, and will emphasize critical reading of the primary literature.
Psychopaths and Psychopathy: Psychological, Neuroscientific, Legal, and Policy Issues (spring 2018)
Ellsworth Fersch / Medical School / email@example.com
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980R, Wednesdays 3-5 p.m., Beren Hall Seminar Room (Winthrop House)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 207090, class # 21594
Psychopathy is often used to describe individuals who act in criminal even non-criminal predatory or conscience-less fashion. It is not, however, an official term in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, though antisocial personality disorder has in the past been described as encompassing psychopathy and sociopathy. Psychopathy was explored by Cleckley in his 1944 book The Mask of Sanity: and by Robert Hare in his 1999 book Without Conscience, and in his 2003 revision of his Psychopathy Check-list. My psychology department seminar on Psychopaths and Psychopathy in 2005-6 focused on research and case studies up to that time. By that time the American Psychiatric Association had issued a statement that psychopaths and those with antisocial personality disorder were not, for heuristic reasons, eligible for the insanity defense. Also, at that time, the determination that a convicted killer was a psychopath was often a strong indicator that the death penalty was warranted. In that seminar, the students prepared their research for inclusion in a workbook. It included answers to frequently asked questions and a series of case studies of both unsuccessful and successful white-collar and street psychopaths. Since then research has expanded to explore neuroscience and the disorder and the related psychological, legal, and policy issues. In this seminar students will examine, and discuss that newer research, and write papers that can be incorporated into an updated supplementary workbook.
The Role of Music in Health and Education (fall 2017)
Lisa Wong / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980p, Thursdays 3-5 p.m., Northwest Building B-104
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 205158, class # 18726
Music shapes the course of human history at both a micro and macro scale; it can make an individual weep and rally crowds of thousands to cheer. The "universal language" has the power to connect people who share no other common ground. Its power to bind people together is intuitively understood, but only through recent neuroimaging advances over the past 50 years have scientists been able to move past intuition to reveal its impact on the brain. Through this course, we will examine the exciting progress of the fields of music and medicine, through a variety of lenses. Who are the key investigators and practitioners in today's emerging music / brain landscape? What are the latest discoveries about how music influences the brain? How does the direct application of music function — how do we hear, how do we listen, and what happens when this process goes wrong? What has music's role been through human history, and where does that bring us today? This course invites the student to deepen his/her relationship with music exploring different aspects of the art form through several perspectives, including neuroscientist, educator, musician, therapist, patient, and healthcare provider. By the end of this course, the learner will (1) understand the effect of music on the developing brain; (2) understand the mechanism of hearing music; (3) consider the pathophysiology of disordered movement and hearing and how music can be used therapeutically; and (4) understand how other disciplines can add educational and neuroscientific knowledge to therapeutic uses of music. Students will be invited to bring their own experiences to the seminar, and to pursue a final independent project, conducting a combination of scientific, historical, education, or psychology research. In the final weeks, they will present their findings to the group in oral, written or musical format. Given the transdisciplinary nature of the work, students will be challenged to read literature from a variety of genres, from lay literature to educational monographs to scientific papers. This will lead to discussion of one of the key questions in interdisciplinary study between the sciences and the arts: how to research and document outcomes. How do we agree on common definitions of research in disparate fields? What constitutes research to a musician? A music therapist? A neuroscientist? A physician? What is proof of success? What can/should be measured?
The Self: What Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience Tell Us (spring 2018)
Marie-Christine Nizzi / Psychology / email@example.com
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980o, Thursdays 3-5 p.m., William James 401
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 204011, class # 16692
Gives a more integrative understanding to sense of self using philosophical theories, neuropsychological quantitative cognitive tests, and neurological conditions involving self disorders. Considers two primary dimensions for sense of self: the diachronic self as based on memory and the synchronic self grounded in the body. Topics include personal identity, mind/brain reduction, first vs. third person perspective, phenomenology of self, introspection, quantitative vs. qualitative methods. Provides appreciation of the advantage of bringing together cross-disciplinary perspectives (neurological, philosophical, and psychological) and research methods (introspection, philosophical intuitions, psychometric tests, behavioral tests, empirical research, and clinical approach). Class Note: Not open to students who have taken MBB 94z.
Sleep and Mental Health (spring 2018)
Edward Pace-Schott (Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980T, Tuesdays 3-5 p.m., William James B4 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution TBA, course ID 207090, class # 21594
The scientific study of sleep is both highly interdisciplinary and among the most unifying of topics in psychology and the neurosciences. In the past several decades, exciting new discoveries on the neurobiology of sleep have been facilitated by technologies such as functional neuroimaging and molecular genetics. Sleep science exemplifies the translational approach in biomedical science whereby investigators in human and animal research work together to continually advance the field of sleep medicine. Scientific findings increasingly point to the importance of sleep for mental health and optimum performance, as well as to sleep disruption as both a result and potential cause of mental illness. In psychiatric neuroscience, sleep is an area in which many fundamental questions remain unanswered due to the unique challenges of studying human sleep. Despite rapidly accelerating new discoveries and ever-increasing knowledge about the mechanisms and correlates of sleep, much remains controversial. Remarkably, there still is no scientifically agreed upon "function" for this behavioral state that occupies one third of our lives! Why should a behavior as universal as sleep remain mysterious? My great curiosity about sleep is continually stimulated by such questions. By the end of this seminar, I very much hope that students will become similarly fascinated with this enigma that exists right under our noses, and perhaps some may choose to further explore this exciting area of neuroscience. Each student will have the opportunity to ponder and form their own opinions on the functions of sleep. While the seminar will emphasize mental health and sleep medicine, my goal is for students to consider our daily alternation in states of consciousness from many perspectives. These might include sleep's roles at the level of genes and their protein products, sleep's manifestation across animal taxa, its possible evolutionary history and present ecology, sleep's influence on brain development, societal influences on sleep, and how and why consciousness should emerge during sleep in the form of dreams. Following lectures providing an overview of the behavioral neuroscience of sleep, each student will focus on topic related to sleep and mental health that they will research in depth and present to the class. Such topics might include the characteristic abnormalities of sleep occurring in mood, anxiety, psychotic, addictive, autism spectrum or neurodegenerative disorders. Other topics might include the contribution of primary sleep disorders to psychiatric illnesses such as links between sleep apnea and depression, circadian rhythm disorders and bipolar illness, or insomnia as a risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders. Still other topics might include the role of sleep in the trafficking and disposal of abnormal proteins during sleep - disruption of which might constitute an important pathway to neurodegenerative illnesses. Lectures taking place during the first 6-8 classes will cover the basics of sleep behavior, physiology and neuronal control. Subsequent classes will consist of presentations by each student on a topic of their choice in the area of sleep and mental health. The exact number of lectures will thus depend upon class enrollment in order to allow one hour for each student presentation. Readings will consist of chapters in the Sleep Research Society’s Basics of Sleep Guide as well as recent review articles dealing with each lecture topic. Each student presenter will assign the class one original-source report and one comprehensive review on their chosen topic. Student evaluation will be based on weekly open-book study questions, in-class discussions, a brief mid-term quiz, a class presentation and a final paper on the same topic as their presentation.
What Disease Teaches about Cognition (spring 2018)
William Milberg / Medical School / email@example.com & Michael Alexander / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980h, Tuesdays 5-7 p.m., NEW LOCATION: William James B4 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 109866, class # 16996
Seeks to reconcile the complicated and messy problems of patients with brain disease with the concise analysis of precisely defined cognitive functions in normal subjects. Students will learn to overlap cognitive functions on to the brain in disease - at the gross dissection and imaging levels - and to understand some of the complex interactions of individual cognitive operations in disease. Includes dissection of a human brain, mapping on to imaging, dissection of multi-dimensional clinical disorders into their component functional parts.
Among the departmental seminars that fulfill the MBB seminar requirement are neurobiology tutorials, small classes limited to 12 students. These tutorials are year-long courses that cannot be joined in the spring; they are listed in the catalog as 101Xa/101Xb pairs, and when you complete both halves, you will receive four units credit. If you are interested in any of these, you may want to attend the Neurobiology Tutorial Fair on Tuesday, August 29th from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Bauer Laboratories Cafe. Information on sectioning for neurobiology tutorials is available at http://mcb.harvard.edu/undergraduates/neurobiology/neurobio-courses/?course-button=tutorials.
The Adolescent Brain (spring 2018)
Leah Somerville / Psychology / email@example.com
Psychology 1355, Tuesdays 1:30-3:30 p.m., Emerson 108
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 110064, class # 17941
This course will introduce students to the dynamics of brain development during the second decade of life. This course will examine key changes in structural, functional, connectivity, and neurochemical changes that take place in the brain during adolescence. We will assess how these changes influence several domains of the adolescent mind, including self-control, risky decision making, changes in daily emotions and moods, the onset of psychiatric illnesses (such as mood and anxiety disorders), and sensitivity to social evaluation. Recommended Prep: The Psychology Department requires completion of Science of Living Systems 20 or the equivalent of introductory psychology (e.g. Psych AP=5 or IB =7 or Psyc S-1) and at least one foundational course from PSY 14, PSY 15, PSY 16, PSY 18, Science of Living Systems 15, MCB 80 or MCB 81 before enrolling in this course; or permission of instructor. Enrollment: Limited to 16.
Animal Cognition (fall 2017)
Irene Pepperberg / Psychology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Psychology 980f, Tuesdays 3-5 p.m., William James 303
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 107432, class # 19876
This course is an introduction to the study of animal cognition and thought processes. Topics include categorization, memory, number concepts, insight, and language-like behavior. The course requires reading and critiquing original journal articles. Note: Not open to students who have taken PSY 1351. Prerequisite: Science of Living Systems 20 and at least one course from PSY 13, PSY 14, PSY 15, PSY 18, or SLS15. Enrollment: Limited to 16.
Beyond Dualism: Descartes and His Critics (spring 2018)
Alison Simmons / Philosophy / email@example.com
Philosophy 125, Tuesdays 2-4 p.m., Emerson 310
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Arts and Humanities, course ID 121954, class # 19101
We will explore Descartes' dualism in its historical context. After examining the transformation that Descartes brought about in our conceptions of body and mind (and ourselves), we will consider some of the notorious metaphysical problems his dualism gives rise to and some 17th- and 18th- century attempts to push back against it in the figures of Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, Henry More, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, and Anton Amo.
Beyond Neurons: The Role of Glia in Brain Function and Distribution (fall 2017 and spring 2018)
Sarah Hopp / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Neurobiology 101Ba/b, Tuesdays 6-7:30 p.m., Robinson 105
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, fall course ID 20509, spring course ID 205100, fall class # 18561, spring class # 18521
The study of glia cells will be approached from the context of their role in disease as a means to better understand their important function in the brain. We will compare and contrast the various types of glia cells and their roles in the healthy brain as well as in various neurological and psychiatric diseases with an emphasis on neuroimmunology in particular. We will draw from primary literature in both basic sciences and translational medicine. Students will evaluate and critique contemporary scientific claims about glia cells informally in class discussions as well as formally during journal club presentations, both of which are important skills used every day by scientists. At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to explain the multifaceted roles of glia in the central nervous system. Prerequisite: (LPS A OR LS 1A ) AND (MCB 80 OR MCB 81).
Brain Damage as a Window into the Mind: Cognitive Neuropsychology (fall 2017)
Alfonso Caramazza / Psychology / email@example.com
Psychology 1304, Tuesdays 1:30-4 p.m., Memorial Hall 303
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 116622, class # 12506
Examines the patterns of perceptual, motor, cognitive, and linguistic impairments resulting from brain damage. The focus is on the implications of the various types of neuropsychological deficits (such as visual neglect, dyslexia, and aphasia) for theories of the mind and the functional organization of the brain. Prerequisite: Science of Living Systems 20 and Psych13, Psych 14, or MCB 80.
The Clever Human Brain: How We Control the Flow of Information and Make Good Decisions (fall 2017)
Yaoda Xu / Psychology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Psychology 1456 / Mondays 2-4 p.m., William James 765
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 203658, class # 16706
Vital to any intelligent system is the ability to extract useful information from our surroundings and use it to make good judgments and decisions. What clever tricks does our brain use to accomplish this task? In this seminar we will have an in-depth examination of how our brain gates the flow of information with attentional control, how it encodes and stores goal-directed information in working memory, and how it encodes values, resolves conflicts and makes good decisions. Recommended Prep: Science of Living Systems 20 or equivalent and one of either MCB 80, Psy 14, PSY 1401, or other neuroscience or related experience by permission of instructor. Instructor permission required. Enrollment: Limited to 16.
Cognitive and Neural Aspects of Object and Action Knowledge (spring 2018)
Alfonso Caramazza / Psychology / email@example.com
Psychology 1358, Mondays 2-4 p.m., William James 303
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 127902, class # 15968
Knowledge of objects and actions encompasses their perceptual and motor properties as well as more abstract properties such as information about their function (e.g., what they are used for, the goal of an action). How is this knowledge represented and organized in the brain? We will read and discuss key papers on object and action representation and critically evaluate results from behavioral, neurophysiological, neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and computational studies. The seminar will provide a critical review of the current literature and identity important challenges that await future research. Class Notes: Graduate students are welcome to enroll. Recommended Prep: The Psychology Department requires completion of Science of Living Systems 20 or the equivalent of introductory psychology (e.g. Psych AP=5 or IB =7 or Psyc S-1) and at least one foundational course from PSY 14, MCB 80, or MCB 81 before enrolling in this course; or permission of instructor. Enrollment: Limited to 15.
Diet and Exercise (Spring 2018)
Rachel Carmody / Human Evolutionary Biology / firstname.lastname@example.org & Daniel Lieberman / Human Evolutionary Biology / email@example.com
Human Evolutionary Biology 1417, Wednesdays 2-5 p.m., Museum of Comparative Zoology 539
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applies Science, course ID 205638, class # 19780
How do diet and exercise —both past and present— affect human health? How does an evolutionary medical perspective help make sense of the confusing, often contradictory literature on how factors like sugar, salt, fat, obesity, physical inactivity, high intensity exercise and shoes affect the human body? In this seminar, weekly readings and discussion will be used to explore how ancestral diets and forms of physical activity have shaped human anatomy and physiology, and how differences between past and present diets and forms of exercise may contribute to illness, mortality, and variations in reproductive success. In doing so, we challenge popular conceptions of what it means to be “healthy.” Course Notes: Preference will be given to advanced Harvard undergraduates and FAS graduate students. Recommended Prep: This course assumes basic knowledge of human evolutionary physiology. LS2 (or equivalent training) is a pre-requisite. Enrollment: Limited to 15.
Evolutionary Genetics of Complex Human Traits (fall 2017)
Maryellen Ruvolo / Human Evolutionary Biology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Evolutionary Biology 1600, Wednesdays 1-4 p.m., Peabody Museum 52 H
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 161269, class # 19558
An advanced seminar on complex human traits with a special focus on neurodevelopmental and other behavioral disorders. Topics will include schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, and Williams syndrome; links between genotype and phenotype; whether natural selection acts on underlying genetic loci; the role of gene-by-environment interactions; what we can learn about humans from model organisms; complicating factors in the analysis of complex traits; societal reactions to neural diversity; and prospects for the reconstruction of past human behavior from genomic evidence. Course Notes: Auditing is not available for this course. Required Prerequisites: An A or B grade in Life Sciences 1b or a passing score on a pre-course quiz to assess mastery of genetics to be administered by the instructor. Enrollment: Limited to 8.
Help and Harming: The Psychology of Altruism and Aggression (spring 2018)
Anne McGuire / Psychology / email@example.com
Psychology 980je, Thursdays 1:30-3:30 p.m., William James B4 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 205016, class # 19600
How do people help and harm each other? Who helps or harms whom, and why? How do upbringing and early experience foster altruism and aggression? Which emotions, thoughts, and situations promote helping and harming? How important are biological (genetic, hormonal, brain) factors? What can we learn about humans from the behavior of chimpanzees and other species? Using concepts and research from social, developmental, and evolutionary psychology, we will explore specific ways people help and harm each other to work toward understanding and influencing altruistic and aggressive behavior. Class Notes: For information on this course, email the instructor. Recommended Prep: The Psychology Department requires completion of Science of Living Systems 20 (or equivalent) and at least one foundational course from PSY 14, PSY 15, PSY 16, PSY 18, or Science of Living Systems 15 before enrolling in this course. Enrollment: Limited to 16.
The History and Culture of Stigma (Spring 2018)
Allan Brandt / History of Science & Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
History of Science 149, Mondays 4-6 p.m., Science Center 252
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 110099, class # 19040
This course will investigate the history of a number of stigmatized conditions and diseases including, for example, cancer, mental illness, addiction, obesity, AIDS, and disability. A central goal will be to understand the stigmatization of disease and its effects in diverse historical and cultural contexts. The course will evaluate both the impact of stigmatization on health disparities and outcomes, as well as attempts to de-stigmatize conditions that are subject to discrimination, prejudice, and isolation. Enrollment: Limited to 20.
Hormones and Life History Physiology (spring 2018)
Peter Ellison / Human Evolutionary Biology / email@example.com& Susan Lipson /Human Evolutionary Biology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Evolutionary Biology 1361, Mondays 1-2:30 plus discussion section Wednesdays 1-2:30, both meetings in Museum of Comparative Zoology 539
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 203615, Class # 16321
A survey of human life history physiology and the role of hormones in the orchestration of key transitions, the allocation of energy to optimize fitness, and the consequences for human health and disease. Although the focus will be on humans, relevant comparisons with non-human primates and other vertebrates will also be made. Lectures will be supplemented by reading and discussion of primary literature. Class Notes: Prerequisite for enrollment: Human Evolutionary Biology 1310, "Hormones and Behavior," or Human Evolutionary Biology 1418, "Research Methods in Endocrinology," or with permission of instructor. Class Notes: Credit for this course will not be given to students who completed Human Evolutionary Biology 1351, "Reproductive Ecology". Enrollment in Human Evolutionary Biology 1361 includes a required discussion section meeting on Wednesdays from 1-2:29 p.m. Cannot be taken for credit if HEB 1351 already complete.
The Human Brain Then and Now (spring 2018)
Randy Buckner / Psychology / email@example.com
Psychology 1303, Mondays 3-5 p.m., William James B6 (basement seminar room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 108478, class # 17921
This course will explore the "mismatch" between our ancestral brain and the modern world. After covering the evolution of the human brain, the bulk of the course will focus on case studies including how drugs hijack the normal function of brain systems, how the Facebook age places stresses on social systems that evolved to handle close-knit groups of 25 or so individuals, and how the brain degenerates as we live unexpectedly long. Recommended Prep: The Psychology Department requires completion of Science of Living Systems 20 or the equivalent of introductory psychology (e.g., Psych AP=5 or IB =7 or Psyc S-1) and one of PSY 14, MCB 80, or MCB 81 before enrolling in this course, or permission of instructor. Enrollment limited to 20.
Human Cognition: Reading and Writing the Neural Code (fall 2017 and spring 2018)
Shaun Patel / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Neurobiology 101Ea/b (formerly Neurobiology 106 a/b), Thursdays 6-7:30 p.m., Robinson 105
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, fall course ID 159700, spring course ID 159701, fall class # 18562, spring class # 18522
In this course, we will explore a new and cutting-edge discipline in neuroscience -- invasive human neurophysiology. Some neurosurgical procedures, such as deep brain stimulation surgery, allow for the unique opportunity to directly access the human brain while patients are awake-and-behaving. Topics will include: place/grid cells, deep brain stimulation, epilepsy, face processing, brain-machine control, and reward processing.
Human Sexuality (spring 2018)
Judith Flynn / Human Evolutionary Biology / email@example.com
Human Evolutionary Biology 1312, Thursdays 3-5 p.m. (NOTE: new meeting time), Museum of Comparative Zoology 539
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 122589, class # 19258
An examination of human sexuality from a scientific perspective. Students will read and present primary scientific literature that highlights current research on a variety of topics including: sexual development, gender identity, sexual orientation, cross cultural variations in mating systems, promiscuity, the evolution of monogamy, sexual attraction, sexual communication, including an exploration of the existence of human pheromones, libido and sexual dysfunction. Enrollment: Limited to 10.
Hunter-Gatherers (spring 2018)
Vivek Venkataraman / Human Evolutionary Biology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Evolutionary Biology 1362, Thursdays 10 a.m. - 12 noon (NOTE: new meeting time), location TBA
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 204530, class # 19242
Modern industrialized life is highly unusual from an evolutionary perspective. For the vast majority of our species' history, we lived in small, mobile, social groups and subsisted on non-domesticated foods. This hunting and gathering way of life has profoundly influenced our evolved physiology, life history, psychology, and social behavior. In this seminar, we examine recent human evolution and adaptation through the lens of the food quest: the goal of acquiring adequate energy to stay alive and reproduce. After establishing fundamental ecological and evolutionary principles, we then survey hunter-gatherer populations around the globe. We focus on cross-cultural variation in foraging and subsistence, technology, life history, co-residence patterns, and social behavior. The course highlights the strengths and weaknesses of using modern hunter-gatherers as models for the past. Course Notes: Enrollment preference given to HEB concentrators. This course fulfills the research seminar requirement for HEB concentrators. Enrollment: Limited to 12.
Measuring the Mind: How Psychological Tests Are Used to Sort Americans and Why It Matters (Fall 2017)
Marla Eby / History of Science & Medical School / email@example.com
History of Science 171V, Thursdays 2-4 p.m., Science Center 469
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 205429, class # 19555
For well over a century, psychologists have worked with schools, corporations, immigration officers, the military, and psychiatrists to sort the American population into groups in order to make a number of key judgments. Special tests -- designed to measure everything from intelligence to vocational aptitudes to personality – have been at the center of that effort. In this course, we will explore the sometimes controversial story of psychological testing, and its larger implications. We will pay attention to the creativity within psychology in the making of such tests, and examine their potential benefits, as well as the drawbacks and dangers of the misuses of these instruments – particularly as tools of social control. Topics covered will include the use of tests in the eugenics movement, testing of immigrants at Ellis Island, academic and military sorting through cognitive tests, the use of personality tests in psychiatric and forensic settings, and the cross-cultural use of personality tests by anthropologists. Finally, because Harvard psychologists have made significant contributions to the history of psychological testing, we will use materials uniquely available on this campus in the course of our work together. Enrollment: Limited to 20.
Mind, Brain, and Behavior Proseminar: Memory (fall 2017)
Susanna Siegel / Philosophy / firstname.lastname@example.org
Philosophy 158A, Wednesdays 4-6 p.m., CGIS Knafel K-109
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Arts and Humanities, course ID 118752, class number 19852
An examination of philosophical theories of the structure and format of episodic memory.
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (fall 2017 and spring 2018)
Joseph Zak / Molecular and Cellular Biology / email@example.com
Neurobiology 101Fa/b (previously Neurobiology 111a/b), Wednesdays 6:30-8 p.m., Robinson 105
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, fall course ID 203851, spring course ID 203852, fall class # 18563, spring class # 18523
Learning and memory are dynamic processes of the brain that allow us to both interact with and interpret our environment. This course will explore the mechanistic basis of neuronal plasticity through a series of lectures and group discussions. In addition to exploring topics covering both synaptic and non-synaptic plasticity, students will gain experience critically evaluating original research articles.
Sex and the Brain (fall 2017 and spring 2018)
Taralyn Tan / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Neurobiology 101Ga/b, Thursdays 6:30-8, Robinson 107
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Sciences, fall course ID 205099, spring course ID 205101, fall class # 18564, spring class # 18524
Animals exhibit many innate, sex-specific behaviors that provide useful models to study the underlying neural circuits, and sex differences in the nervous system also have important implications for human health. Through discussions, activities, and lectures, this course introduces students to various aspects of sexually dimorphic neural circuits across model organisms, while emphasizing critical thinking and effective science communication. Course Requirements: Prerequisite: (LPS A OR LS 1A ) AND (MCB 80 OR MCB 81)
Stress: Research (fall 2017)
Judith F. Chapman / Human Evolutionary Biology / email@example.com
Human Evolutionary Biology 1313, Thursdays 3-5 p.m., Quincy House S001 (Stone Innovation Room)
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 127757, class # 19561
An examination of stress from a scientific perspective with a focus on stress research in mammals, especially primate and humans. A writing and speaking intensive seminar that will explore the basics of the stress response, physiological effects of the stress and factors that affect stress responsiveness, such as perinatal and early life effects, social support, outlets for frustration and coping skills. The relationship between stress and disease will also be explored. Scientific studies of the effectiveness of modalities of stress reduction will also be discussed. Students will present primary scientific literature that highlights current research on a variety of topics in the field. Enrollment: Limited to 12.
Styles of Thought (spring 2018)
Elinor Amit / Psychology / firstname.lastname@example.org
Psychology 980jb, Tuesdays 2-4 p.m., William James 303
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 108956, class # 16707
We think all the time. But what are thoughts made up of? And what are the many different ways in which we think? Do we think in pictures or in words? When you’re hungry, do you think about “food” or about “almond pancakes with Vermont maple syrup”? Do children think differently from adults? How does imagination affect our moral judgment? How do we prospect about the future? Is abstract thinking “deeper” or “better” than concrete thinking? Are pictures more “emotional” than words? And do situational factors play a role in the way we think, or is it all about stable individual differences? The purpose of this course is to think about thoughts. We will give some answers to these and other fascinating questions about how people think, and what are the implications of the style of thought to perceptions, judgments, predictions, and actions towards the social world. Our goals are (1) to understand the cognitive processes that underlie different styles of thought, and the neural correlates of these mechanisms; (2) to compare different approaches to the concept of abstraction; (3) to consider under what circumstances people naturally use more abstract (versus more concrete) representations of information; and (4) to examine the expression of abstraction processes in the realm of social cognition. Recommended Prep: The Psychology Department requires completion of Science of Living Systems 20 (or equivalent) and at least one foundational course from PSY 14, PSY 15, PSY 16, PSY 18 or Science of Living Systems 15 before enrolling in this course. Enrollment: Limited to 16.
Traumatic Histories (Spring 2018)
Leena Akhtar / History of Science / email@example.com
History of Science 175V, Tuesdays 2-4 p.m., Science Center 252
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Social Sciences, course ID 205441, class # 19255
This seminar is aimed at advanced undergraduates interested in the history of psychiatry, trauma studies, and the traumatized subject as a recognizable clinical and social category. The course explores the troubled history of trauma psychiatry, focusing on the debates over the legitimation of various forms of suffering (in psychiatric terms) in different time periods. Our goals while exploring this history will be twofold: first, to understand how trauma as a precursor to mental pathology emerged as a way of understanding not only the survivor but also different kinds of disasters; and secondly, to understand the major moves and developments in trauma theory. Topics will include wartime trauma, the Holocaust, accidents, natural and human-caused disasters, sexual and gender based violence, abuse, the memory wars, and the extension of trauma theory to poverty and other forms of social vulnerability. Enrollment: Limited to 15.
Visual Circuits: How Neurons and Networks See (fall 2017 and spring 2018)
Till Hartmann / Medical School / firstname.lastname@example.org
Neurobiology 101Ha/b, Mondays 7-8:30 p.m., Robinson 105
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, fall course ID 205102, spring course ID 205103, fall class # 18565, spring class # 18525
Vision is arguably our most dominant and most important sense. The visual system processes vast amounts of data continuously, and it can identify relevant objects in our complex environment faster and more accurately than any artificial system. Yet, as recently as 2012, a revolution in computer vision has begun to allow computers to approach human level performance, in some cases even outperforming humans. What led to this improvement? Deep neural networks: several neural networks stacked on top of each other. These networks have some striking similarities to circuits of the human visual system, and by studying them, we can learn about how our brains’ own circuits function. In this class, we will learn both the fundamentals of the visual system circuitry (from retina to the visual cortex) as well as the structure and logic of neural network algorithms. In doing so, we will learn how artificial and natural networks can parse and recognize objects, detect direction and speed of motion, and modulate attention. We will be studying neural networks conceptually, so no prerequisites in math or computer science are needed. Course Requirements: Prerequisite: (LPS A OR LS 1A ) AND (MCB 80 OR MCB 81).
Visual Recognition: Computational and Biophysical Perspective (fall 2017)
Gabriel Kreiman / Medical School / email@example.com
Neurobiology 130, Mondays 3:30-5:30 pm., Biological Labs 2062/2064
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Science and Engineering/Applied Science, course ID 160750, class # 16876
Examines how neuronal circuits represent information and how those circuits are implemented in artificial intelligence algorithms. Topics: architecture of visual cortex, neurophysiology, visual consciousness, computational neuroscience, models of pattern recognition and computer vision. Note: Neuro 130 cannot be taken if Neuro 230 has been taken. Neuro 130 cannot be taken concurrently with Neuro 230. Prerequisite: (Life Sciences 1A or LPS A) AND Life Sciences 1B. Recommended Preparation: Math (Maa/Mab, Math 1A,1B, Math 19 a or equivalent). Physical Sciences 1. MCB 80.
Well-Being: Proseminar (spring 2018)
Jeffrey Behrends / Philosophy / firstname.lastname@example.org
Philosophy 171, Wednesdays 1-3 p.m., Emerson 106
4 units of course credit, divisional distribution Arts and Humanities, course ID 159747, class # 19104
Well-being, or welfare, is a kind of personal value – it is a value for some individual. We say that someone enjoys a high level of well-being when the life that they lead is a good one for them, and that when someone’s life goes poorly for them, their level of well-being is low. We can all probably point to certain kinds of lives that are paradigmatically high or low in well-being. But it is harder to identify what makes it the case that someone has a particular level of well-being, primarily because it is not obvious what things fundamentally contribute to or detract from the value of one’s life. In this seminar, we will consider contemporary approaches to welfare, including recent defenses of monistic theories like hedonism and the desire-satisfaction theory, as well as pluralistic theories. Though it will not be the primary focus of the course, we will also consider attempts to measure well-being in the social sciences, with special attention paid to what, if anything, value theorists and social scientists have to learn from one another. Course Notes: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Ethical Reasoning.