Spring 2022

Permission forms will be accepted for Spring 2022 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 80.06

Advanced Seminar on Brain Evolution

In 22S at 3B, Richard Granger

For the first 200 million years of mammalian evolution, most animals' brain sizes were highly predictable from their body size. In the past four million years, an evolutionary blink of the eye, primates rapidly evolved brains that are several times larger than previously would have been predicted for their body size. How did this occur? What are the effects of these substantial brain changes? What are the contents of human brains, and how do they differ from the brains of other primates (and other mammals, and non-mammals)? Evolution acts on genes, not on organisms; what are the genetic factors that have been identified in recent primate brain growth? What relationships may obtain between anatomical and functional brain characteristics? What mechanisms are at play, including extrinsic factors and evolutionary "pressures"? What differential predictions do various theories make, and how are they tested? How would we know if a hypothesis is false; how do we know if they are falsifiable? The class will critically examine a set of related topics including brain structure, anthropology, evolution, genetics, development, cognition, race, intelligence.

Approved course for the neuroscience major/minor.

Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6; and instructor permission via the department website

PSYC 81.10

Neural Bases of Attention and Consciousness

In 22S at 10A, Peter Tse

This course will cover the relationship between volitionally attending and consciousness, particularly in the domain of human visual processing. By consciousness we mean that which is currently subjectively experienced. The relationship between attention and consciousness appears to be very tight; that which we choose to attend to we are conscious of, and that which we are conscious of we could choose to attend to in the next moment. We will examine what is known about the neural bases of the different types of attention, with a particular focus on 'endogenous attention,' which is the mode of attending that is under volitional control. We will at the same time examine what is known about the neural bases of visual consciousness, with a particular focus on those aspects of neural processing that are modulated by volitionally attending to a stimulus or not. In addition to one main text ("The Quest for Consciousness" by Christof Koch) we will read scientific papers that place useful constraints on the neural bases of volitional attention and visual consciousness.

Approved course for the Neuroscience major/minor.

Prerequisites: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6; and PSYC 11 or an alternative lab course in the Neuroscience major

PSYC 84.05

The Power of Beliefs

In 22S at 3A, Luke Chang

How do beliefs affect clinical outcomes?  This course provides an in-depth examination of the role of beliefs and expectations in the manifestation of psychological symptoms and their treatment. Topics to be covered include the psychological and biological bases of pharmacological placebo effects, the mechanisms underlying psychotherapy (e.g., patient and provider expectations), and also how cultural expectations impact how psychological symptoms are experienced (e.g., hallucinations, delusions, and somatization).

Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6; and instructor permission via the department website

PSYC 86.05

Future Directions in Psychological Science

In 22S at 2A, Thalia Wheatley

Psychology and neuroscience are ever evolving. Textbooks, with their hundreds of pages, are continually edited, making way for new areas of research previously unstudied. What is on the horizon for these fields? In this culminating seminar, we will look at the ways these fields are breaking new ground in deepening our knowledge of the human mind, the research that foreshadowed those changes, and the role of interdisciplinarity. We will also discuss the implications of these new directions in terms of how we grapple with the deepest psychological questions – What does it mean to be human? How should we treat others? How do minds connect? And how should science, itself, change to become more robust, open and objective? Throughout the class, we will discuss the important and challenging ethical implications of these new frontiers.

Prerequisites: PSYC 1 and instructor permission via the department website