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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
The Neuroscience of Stress and Reward: Circuit Fundamentals of Emotional Arousal
How do our brains translate thoughts and experiences into feelings of pain or pleasure? Why do some people struggle more than others with social isolation, addictive habits, poor quality sleep, unexpected life challenges, or societal pressures? More importantly, what can we do about it?
This course provides an introduction to contemporary studies from psychology, neurobiology, and psychiatry that explain fundamentals of emotions & behavior. We will focus on the underlying neural basis of mental health conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and addiction, while also covering the science of resilience and potential benefits of stress. We will cover foundational concepts that build knowledge in core areas of neuroscience spanning genetics, physiology, endocrinology (hormones), pharmacology (drugs), anatomy, behavior, neurotechnology, and psychiatric patient care.
After taking this course, you should be able to…
Demonstrate knowledge on basic anatomy and physiology of emotional brain circuits
Explain how neurotransmitters and drugs act on receptors and signaling proteins in the brain
Analyze information about genetic and environmental contributions to anxiety and addiction
Design experiments that will test hypotheses aimed at advancing neurobiological knowledge
Evaluate the strengths and limitations of existing frameworks for mental health and behavior
Expound on recent technological advances for neural modulation and neural recordings
Discuss ethical issues surrounding mental health, genetic engineering, animal research
Source reading materials will include peer-reviewed papers from the primary scientific literature, selections from classic textbooks, and excerpts from novels and biographies of neuroscientists and psychiatrists. Course sessions will comprise lectures, videos, guest speakers, and group discussions. The course will utilize assessments including Writing Assignments, Quizzes, and a Final Presentation.