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Measuring Learning in the Brain (EDUC 464, NEPR 464, SYMSYS 195M)


Everything we learn - be it a historical fact, the meaning of a new word, or a skill like reading, math, programming or playing the piano - depends on brain plasticity. The human brain's incredible capacity for learning is served by a variety of learning mechanisms that all result in changes in brain structure and function over different time scales. The goal of this course is to (a) provide an overview of different learning systems in the brain, (b) introduce methodologies and experiments that have led to new discoveries linking human brain plasticity and learning, (3) design an experiment, collect neuroimaging data, and measure the neurobiological underpinnings of learning in your own brain with MRI. The first section of the course will involve a series of lectures and discussions on the foundations of plasticity and learning with particular attention to experimental methods used in human neuroimaging studies. The second part of the course will involve workshops on designing and implementing experiments in MATLAB/Psychtoolbox or Python/PsychoPy. During this part of the course students will design, present and implement their own experiments as group projects. Finally, students will learn how to collect and analyze MRI data by being participants in their own fMRI experiments or analyzing publicly available datasets. Requirements: This class is designed for students who are interested in gaining hands-on experience with measuring the neurobiological underpinnings of learning. Student projects will involve designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data. So some experience with MATLAB/Python or an equivalent programming language is required. Some background in neuroscience (at least 1 course) is also required as we will assume basic knowledge.

Course ID: 
223 166
Letter or Credit/No Credit