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Neurobiology and Behavior 2005

Welcome to the home page of Biology 202 at Bryn Mawr College. Pleased to have you here. I'm looking forward to an interesting,enjoyable, productive semester of "getting it progressively less wrong", and hope you are too. Let's have some fun, and see what we can all make out of it together.

Students (and visitors) should be aware that this is a "non-traditional" science course in several respects (see A Vision of Science (and Science Education) in the 21st Century for further background)


Literary and historical starting points

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 -

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Mind and Body:
Rene Descartes to William James

The course is organized in relation to the following general presumptions (see syllabus for specifics):
  • Neurobiology, like all science, is an ongoing process of trying to make sense of the world and one's relation to it by a recursive and unending process of making observations, summarizing the observations, and using the summaries to motivate new observations.

  • Neurobiology is of interest and is accessible to everyone, and is an essential tool in the repertoire of anyone who is themself trying to make sense of who they are and how they relate to the world around them.

  • Neurobiology, like all science, is best assimilated by a process in which students themselves work through in their own minds and in relation to their own experiences and understandings relevant observations and the summaries of those observations suggested by others. Education, like science, should be an ongoing process of making observations, summarizing the observations, and using the summaries to motivate new observations.

  • Neurobiology, like all science, is a social process, one in which the observations and tentative summaries are shared among individuals, so that each can benefit from the ongoing inquiries of others. For this reason, students (like faculty) will be expected to actively engage in all aspects of the course, including making thoughts in progress available not only to other students in the course but to the world at large by way of an on-line forum and web papers.

Course Syllabus

Course Schedule

Course Announcements

Course Lecture/Discussion Notes (click here for most recent)

Course Forum Area, including archive

Web Paper Assignment

Web Paper Instructions (including access to electronic submission)

Web Papers: Set 1

Web Papers: Set 2

Web Papers: Set 3

A short story: "The Human Condition" by Student Contributor

Some Literary and Historical Starting Points

Scientific American Articles

Course Evolving Book List

Course Evolving Web Resource List

Previous Course Web Papers

Neurobiology and Behavior Resources on Serendip

Mental Health Resources, from Serendip and the Center for Science in Society

Access to previous course years

Course announcements

Browse around. Get a sense of what's here, and how it does (or doesn't) relate to things you might be interested in. Think about what you think you know about brain and behavior, and why, and what puzzles you, and why. And expect to be wrong, over and over again. That's the best starting place ... for any kind of scientific inquiry. And the best way starting place for the productive sharing of ideas with others as well.

Second web papers now available. Have read half of them; emails by end of week. See web paper notes for general comments. Final web papers for seniors due Friday, May 6, for others Friday, May 13. Please also pay one last visit (at least) to the course forum area to reflect on where you started with this course (see forum archive) and where you have gotten to.





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