Neurobiology and Behavior 2007

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 Science as Story Telling in Action 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

Web Paper Assignment

2007 web papers

Some Literary and Historical Starting Points

Course Evolving Book List

Course Evolving Web Resource List

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. Look for things that surprise you, cause you to think differently (rather than things that are what you expect, support the ways you already think). Think about what you think you know about brain and behavior, and why, and what puzzles you, and why (what IS "thinking"? and what's it good for?). 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.

Some recent and ongoing conversations you might find interesting and, perhaps, want to participate in ...

The Novelist and the Neurobiologist
The Art Historian and the Neurobiologist
The Psychoanalyst and the Neurobiologist
Exploring Mental Health
A Working Group on Elementary Science Education

A directory of first web papers is now available.

An invitation to join the SciSoc working group on mental health ... Next meeting is this Sunday.

20 March

27 March 3 April progress report

April 10

April 25 May 1