The University of Southampton
Courses

UOSM2016 The Human Brain and Society

Module Overview

The human brain is a phenomenal structure the attributes of which are often taken for granted until disease disorder or disability impact upon us as individuals. Understanding the mechanistic workings of the human brain is hugely challenging, but more daunting still is the task of truly understanding the emergence of mind from the biological underpinnings. Each and every person is defined by the properties of their own brain. It is more than the tool through which we perceive and learn it is the very thing that perceives and learns. We are our brains. When out brains are diseased, damaged or disordered we are no longer the same person. The implications of this affect every person and it should inform the way all of us view society and its problems. The aim of this module is to provide tomorrow's leaders and policy makers with a basic understanding of how the human brain functions and an appreciation of the importance of mental health for 21st century society. Topics will be delivered by senior academics of the Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG) and will include; 'We are what we perceive'; An introduction to the human brain; models and interactive computer programmes will be used to introduce you to the functional properties of the brain and some more remarkable features of perception. 'Remembering and forgetting'; From neurobiological models of memory to an understanding of memory loss and cognitive impairment in ageing and dementia. This will incorporate contributions from leading international research at Southampton in the field of dementia and meetings with patient groups and relevant charities. 'Defeating depression'; One of the most common and arguably misunderstood mental health disorders. This topic will involve contributions from Solent Min and workshops discussing symptoms, impact and therapeutic strategies. 'The developing brain'; This topic will describe normal childhood development and discuss current understanding of neurological disorders such as autism and ADHD. 'Drug discovery'; The role of the pharmaceutical industry in neuroscience research. This topic will address how this industry operates, the process of drug discovery and related issues including the ethics of animal experimentation. It will engage links of SoNG with industrial representatives.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The human brain is a phenomenal structure the attributes of which are often taken for granted until disease, disorder or disability impact upon us as individuals. Understanding the mechanistic workings of the human brain is hugely challenging, but more daunting still is the task of truly understanding the emergence of mind from the biological underpinnings. Each and every person is defined by the properties of their own brain. It is more than the tool through which we perceive and learn it is the very thing that perceives and learns: We are our brains. When our brains are diseased, damaged or disordered we are no longer the same person. The implications of this affect every person and it should inform the way all of us view society and its problems. The intention of the course is for the participants to challenged to think about how their brain defines who they are and what this means for society. Disorders of brain function place a huge burden on society. In the 21st century this will become increasingly apparent as the value of greater longevity is eroded by mental deterioration with age and with age-related neurological disorders such a Parkinson’s disease, stroke and dementia. To confront such issues the leaders and opinion-makers of society need to have a basic appreciation of how brains function to make individuals who they are. The challenge for neuroscientists is in engaging with people from other disciplines in such a way as to allow them to develop this appreciation. The aim of this module is to raise awareness of brain function and the implications for our understanding of mental health and neurodegenerative disorders in 21st century society Learning Outcomes Academic – a broad understanding of the discipline of neuroscience, an independent capacity for life-long learning in this field and the ability to critically apply this knowledge Communication Skills - an ability to debate how the intrinsic biological properties of our brains relate to human behaviour and to express these ideas with confidence and clarity to a variety of audiences Ethical Leadership- an understanding of the issues relating to mental health and well-being and the societal responsibility to promote this in all spheres of activity Global Citizenship-a better understanding of how mental health impacts on an interconnected global society and a recognition of the global importance of tolerance and respect for an individual’s human rights

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Academic – a broad understanding of the discipline of neuroscience, an independent capacity for life-long learning in this field and the ability to critically apply this knowledge
  • Communication Skills - an ability to debate how the intrinsic biological properties of our brains relate to human behaviour and to express these ideas with confidence and clarity to a variety of audiences
  • Ethical Leadership- an understanding of the issues relating to mental health and well-being and the societal responsibility to promote this in all spheres of activity
  • Global Citizenship-a better understanding of how mental health impacts on an interconnected global society and a recognition of the global importance of tolerance and respect for an individual’s human rights with respect to mental health issues.

Syllabus

‘We are what we perceive’: An introduction to the human brain; models and interactive computer programmes will be used to introduce the student to the functional properties of the brain and some more remarkable features of perception. ‘Remembering and forgetting’: From neurobiological models of memory to an understanding of memory loss and cognitive impairment in ageing and dementia. This will incorporate contributions from leading international research at Southampton in the field of dementia and meetings with patient groups and relevant charities. ‘Defeating depression’: One of the most common and arguably misunderstood mental health disorders. This topic will involve contributions from Solent Mind and workshops discussing symptoms, impact and therapeutic strategies. ‘The developing brain’: This topic will describe normal childhood development and discuss current understanding of neurological disorders autism and ADHD. The role of the pharmaceutical industry in neuroscience research: This topic will address how this industry operates, the process of drug discovery and related issues including the ethics of animal experimentation. It will engage links of SoNG with industrial representatives. ‘Modelling the brain’: Can understanding the brain inspire new developments in computer technology?

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and workshops/ tutorials and discussion groups/ e resources and self-directed learning through computer-aided learning software/ one practical/ opportunity for participation in Science Week exhibition/ exhibition A note on tutorials: Given the broad range of backgrounds of the students it will be important to provide small group support. The main role of these small group sessions will be to assist the students in developing their ideas for the exhibition however they will also serve as a forum for them to seek clarification on core concepts they might struggle with. These groups will be led by SoNG early career researchers who will be provided will guidance on their role as mentors for the students. (Participation with be agreed with supervisors.)

TypeHours
Teaching20
Independent Study130
Total study time150

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Individual project  () 25%
Individual written report  () 25%
Web-based assessment  () 50%
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