Summary: The course will focus on the central nervous system of animals, and mainly the vertebrate brain, developing from Module 630 which was primarily about the peripheral nervous system and invertebrates. We shall discuss visual perception, learning, memory, language and consciousness. Part of the course will consider models of the brain, particularly models of learning and memory and will include discussion about recent experiments relating to these theories.
Aims: to provide an understanding of the relation between nerve activity and behaviour, both at a simple level and at the more complex, self-aware levels, and to understand the methods for data acquisition and analysis. In particular:
the technical approaches to understanding brain function:
PREREQUISITES: Module 632 Nerve Brain and Movement is highly recommended
6 lectures: Chris Elliott
The aim of these lectures is to investigate the neural basis of behaviour, and how animals identify and use signals necessary for survival. A basic outline is provided by the book Nerve cells and animal behaviour by Simmons & Young OUP, second edition 1999
This relates the simple nerve action in the crayfish to the escape behaviour, describing how sensory stimuli trigger the behaviour, how the behaviour is evoked and how the crayfish ensures that self- evoked movement does not trigger the behaviour.
2. Bird Song and Owl hearing
After considering the physical properties of sound and its reception, this lecture describes the mechanisms for hearing and sound production in birds, and how this contributes to the evolution of dialects. The specialised nature of hearing in owls is considered in the context of neural maps of the world, especially the mechanisms by which they use 2 ears to construct a 3-d map of auditory space.
3. Echolocation in bats
Here the echolocation of bats is related to their hunting abilities, how they can locate objects and land; how they can discriminate food items and catch them accurately
4. Electric fish
These fish signal in murky water using electric impulses. The methods used by pulse and =wave fish will be described, and their abilities to distinguish self- from non-self generated signals characterised.
5.6 The Human Brain in health and disease; perception of pain
In this part of the course the basic anatomy of the human brain and
its descending control of the spinal column will be outlined. The basic
mechanisms of motor control will be discussed in the light of observations
from damage and disease. On the sensory side, the perception of pain and
its control by analgesics will be used as an example.
Speech perception. Roles of left and right hemispheres; neural basis
of verbal memory; categorisation and word-blindness; aphasias; language
structure and meaning.
9. Attention, awareness and consciousness
LECTURERS AND ORGANISATION:
Total contact hours: 11
Private study: 79