We will take a modern, integrative view of animal learning phenomena from experimental psychology, analyzing them through the lens of computational models of reinforcement learning and current neuroscientific knowledge. The goal is to explore how theoretical concepts apply to every-day attempts to change people's minds, and demonstrate how computational modeling is a useful framework for understanding human behavior. To maximize learning and skill acquisition, the course will include group work and class presentations, and will use alternative grading (your learning will be motivated by progress towards your own goals, rather than by grades).
A crucial part of neuroscience is understanding how function has its foundation in anatomy. This course traces neuroanatomical pathways through the central nervous system. It emphasizes the primate brain, especially the human brain. The course covers how nuclei, ganglia, and layered structures such as cortex are arranged physically in the brain, the fiber pathways by which they connect to each other, and how this connectivity relates to their function. The material will encompass systems within the brain stem, sensory systems, motor systems, higher cognitive systems, and the interconnectivity and interaction of these systems.
An intensive introduction to fundamental topics in neuroscience, including neuronal excitability, synaptic physiology, neural networks, and circuits that mediate perception, action, emotion, and memory. We will examine neuroscience at scales ranging from single neurons, to the activity of small sets of neurons, to the organization of brain and behavior. The course will address broad questions including: How does information enter the brain? What neural pathways transmit these signals? How is information processed and used to construct an internal model of reality? How does the brain choose and execute the correct behavioral response?
Human Factors 1.0 studied how humans interact with machines and technology, bringing engineering and psychology into contact in the 1950s and giving rise to theories of user-centric design. This course will cover recent theoretical advances in cognitive and social psychology, especially in human judgment and decision making, that are relevant for engineers and choice architects as they address technical and societal challenges related to sustainability. Such psychological theory (human factors 2.0) can be creatively applied to designs decision environments that help people overcome present bias, loss aversion, and status-quo bias.
The study of human nature from the viewpoint of psychological science. Topics range from the biological bases of human perception, thought and action to the social-psychological determinants of individual and group behavior. This course can be used to satisfy the science and technology with laboratory general education requirement.