Neurobiology and Behavior 2000

Welcome to the home page of Biology 202 at Bryn Mawr College (http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro00).
The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside-

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant-
Success in Circuit lies
...
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or ever man be blind -


Course announcements

More on "wrapping up"? the course:

To more formally "wrap up" the course:
  1. Make one (at least) last comment in course forum area, contributing to final poll
  2. Complete course evaluation. Turn it in with final web paper.
  3. Complete final web paper (the template has been updated); submit electonically and as hard copy (as normal). Paper (and course evaluation) due by 5 p.m. Friday, May 5, for seniors, noon, Friday, May 12 for all others. Put hard copy and course evaluation in boxes outside Room 106.
Final poll results will be posted here after May 12.

Some course starting points

from Emily Dickinson (1830-1886):
The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside-

The Brain is deeper than the sea -
For - hold them - Blue to Bue -
The one the other will absorb -
As sponges - Buckets - do

The Brain is just the weight of God -
For - Heft them - Pound for Pound -
And they will differ - if they do -
As syllable from Sound -

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant-
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or ever man be blind -

And from history:

Mind and Body: Rene Descartes to William James

Topics for weekly essays (click to see responses)

TOPIC 1
"Brain and behavior are the same thing; there isn't anything else." What are the implications of and problems with such an assertion? Whether you're skeptical or not, explain why, and consider what kinds of new observations might cause you to think differently.

TOPIC 2
What does thinking about Christopher Reeves (or anyone else with a broken neck) have to teach us about how the nervous system works? about behavior and the "self"? about whether brain and behavior are the same thing? Is thinking of the nervous system as an input-output "box", itself consisting of interconnected input-output boxes, useful for any or all of these questions?

TOPIC 3
The nervous system is an input-output box consisting of interconnected input-output boxes themselves consisting of .... its boxes all the way down ... lots and lots of boxes ... and they're pretty much the same boxes everywhere". Is that a useful way to think about the nervous system? Does it help to make better sense of behavior? Of any particular behaviors?

TOPIC 4
If one is interested in behavior, is it likely to be useful to spend time exploring the behavior of individual neurons, and the ion fluxes, permeabilities, and batteries which account for them? What insights into behavior have or might come out of such explorations?

TOPIC 5
Do you think differently about behavior now that we know something about neurons, and if so, how?

TOPIC 6
Knowing something about neurons helps to make observations which characterize properties that emerge from organized collections of neurons, such as "motor symphonies", "central pattern generation", and "efference copy (corollary discharge)." In what ways do these help one to better understand behavior? What new possibilities and questions do they in turn raise?

TOPIC 7
The concepts of "motor symphony", "central pattern generation", and "corollary discharge" have solid observational/experimental bases and meanings with reference to the motor or output side of the nervous system. In what ways might they be useful in trying to make sense not only of one's experiences with movement control but perhaps also of other aspects of brain/behavior?

TOPIC 8
Corollary discharge ... not just a motor function. And negative feedback loops with variable set points? Our discussion of the motor side of the nervous system is beginning to suggest that there are lots of different parts of the nervous system, each getting input from a subset of other parts and each having its own "purposes", which may or may not be the same as those of the "I-function". Is this a useful way to think about behavior? Generalizations? Concerns/criticisms? New questions?

TOPIC 9
What kinds of new understandings about human experience, and new questions, arise from thinking about phenomena related to the blind spot of the eye?

TOPIC 10
If a tree falls in the forest when there's no one there, does it make a sound? What sound does it make?

TOPIC 11
What are the most important things we should, in our last week, be sure to talk about? Are there aspects of behavior/human experience that we still don't have ways to talk about/think about?

TOPIC 12
At the beginning of the course, you wrote about your reactions to the assertion that "Brain and behavior are the same thing; there isn't anything else". And we took a poll which showed 6 agreeing with the assertion, 15 disagreeing, and 7 uncertain. Go back and read your thoughts from the beginning of the semester, and then write about how your thoughts have changed or not changed since then, and why. Be sure to indicate whether you are currently in the "agree", "disagree", or "uncertain" camp and I'll put the final poll results when they're in here:


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