Fall 2021

Permission forms will be accepted for Fall 2021 courses beginning on July 11, 2021.  Note that all the PSYC courses listed below are accepted towards the Psychology major, but only some are accepted towards the Neuroscience major.

PSYC 60

Principles of Human Brain Mapping with fMRI

In 21F at 2A, Luke Chang

This course is designed to introduce students to the theoretical and practical issues involved in conducting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments of cognitive and behaviorally-related brain activity. Participants will gain an understanding of the physiological principles underlying the fMRI signal change, as well as the considerations for experimental design. The course will include firsthand exposure to the scanning environment and data collection procedures. Participants will be provided conceptual and hands-on experience with image processing and statistical analysis. At the completion of this course, it is expected that participants will be prepared to critique, design and conduct fMRI studies; appreciate limitations and potentials of current fMRI methods and techniques; and better understand the broad range of expertise required in an fMRI research program. The course is designed to provide the participant with intensive, hands-on instruction. As a result, enrollment in the course will be limited to 12 people. Knowledge of MR physics, signal processing, or the UNIX/Linux operating system is not a prerequisite.

Approved course for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: Instructor permission through the department website.

PSYC 81.12

Using Naturalistic Stimuli, Brain Imaging, and Big Data Methods to Understand Human Cognition

In 21F at 12, James Haxby

Natural human experience involves a continuous stream of incoming stimuli in a rich context of prior knowledge and expectations.  Traditionally, experimental psychology attempts to reduce this complexity using controlled experiments that vary a single, experimental variable and hold other, control variables constant.  Human cognition, however, develops to extract information and guide behavior based on uncontrolled, naturalistic stimuli in an ecologically rich environment.  In this seminar we will examine a new approach to experimental cognitive research that uses uncontrolled, naturalistic stimuli and discovers structure and meaning in the brain activity and behavioral responses they evoke using advanced computational methods from machine learning and big data analysis.  We will discuss the advantages of this new approach for studying complex and ecological cognition and the limitations of the current state-of-the-art.  Throughout the course we will consider future directions and challenges for extending this approach into new domains of cognition, developing richer naturalistic stimulation paradigms, and developing more powerful methods for discovering the structure of information in real world events and environments.

Approved course for the Neuroscience major/minor.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.  Background in psychological and brain imaging research methods, computer science, and machine learning will be helpful, but students need not have background in all of these areas.

PSYC 83.08

Social and Neural Networks

In 21F at 10A, Mark Thornton

Networks exert profound influences on our lives. We are each embedded within social networks that influence our emotional wellbeing, the information we can access, and even which diseases we might catch. Likewise, each of us has a complex network of neurons embedded within our head: our brain. The structures of these neural networks reflect our cognitive abilities, mental health, and how we form our social networks. Despite the superficial dissimilarities between these types of networks, we can use a common framework – graph theory – to describe and understand both social and neural networks. This course will explore social psychology and neuroscience through the lens of networks, providing students with novel perspectives on and powerful tools for analyzing these subjects. Students will come away with a firm grasp of graph theory, social networks, brain networks, and artificial neural networks.

Prerequisites: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6, and PSYC 10 or equivalent, and one of the following: PSYC 23, PSYC 38, a course in the PSYC 53 series, or PSYC 60; and instructor permission through the department website

PSYC 86.04

Bucci Fellows Seminar in Advanced Neuroscience

In 21F at 2A, Katherine Nautiyal

This seminar provides advanced undergraduates the opportunity to participate in the exploration of the cutting edge of neuroscience research through the vehicle of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). The conference program serves as a syllabus and roadmap for the most up-to-date techniques and discoveries in the field of neuroscience. The seminar will explore topics and issues informed by the scheduled presentations at the meeting, allowing student learning to keep pace with the current research and knowledge of leading international experts in neuroscience. The culmination of the course will involve travel to the Annual Meeting of SfN with over 30,000 neuroscientists. This experience is designed to make neuroscience "come alive," and to provide students with valuable opportunities to take part in a scientific conference, meet world-renowned researchers, prospective graduate mentors, and possible future employers. Students will also have the chance to develop important professional skills through critical evaluation of research, exposure to different presentation styles, and preparation of an in-depth research paper and oral presentations. This seminar is offered in honor of the late Professor David Bucci and his dedication to innovative undergraduate teaching in Neuroscience. Thanks to the generosity of the donors to the David Bucci Fellows Fund, all travel expenses for students will be covered by Bucci Fellowships.

Approved course for the Neuroscience major/minor.

Prerequisite: PSYC 6 and instructor permission through the department website.

Students interested in the course should contact the instructor prior to the course registration period. Students will be asked to complete a brief application stating their interest in the course, what they hope to get out of the course, courses completed in Neuroscience/Psychology, and any prior/current research experience. Advanced students (Seniors, then Juniors) majoring in Neuroscience or Psychology will be given priority for enrollment. A code of conduct will also be developed by and for the students to guide their participation at the conference as ambassadors of Dartmouth College.