Capstone Experience in Neuroscience and Behavior
Spring 2015 not offered
|Certificates: Civic Engagement, Writing
|Course Cluster: Disability Studies, Service-Learning
In this cohesive and interactive experience for junior and senior neuroscience and behavior majors, students read the primary literature on the topic of how experience changes the brain, gain proficiency in scientific writing and editing, and carry out service-learning projects in local high schools. This course is part of the course clusters in disability studies and service learning, as well as the certificate in writing.
|Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar
|Grading Mode: Student Option
|Prerequisites: [NS&B213 or BIOL213 or PSYC240]
|Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CIS)(CWRC)(NS&B)
Readings from the primary literature in neuroscience and book chapters will be distributed.
|Examinations and Assignments:
Essays and opinion pieces, meetings with writing tutor, service learning project comprised of activities, handouts, and/or videos for teaching a unit on the brain to high school students and in local non-profit organization.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments:
Attendance, class participation, and a field trip are required.
Guest speakers highlight important aspects of current research on the topic areas. Students write and revise a series of scientific commentaries on topics covered in lectures and readings. The Instructor and writing tutor provide extensive feedback on writing and students also edit each other's writing in student-led writing workshops. In addition, students prepare a final portfolio of their writing and contribute their writing to SYNTHESIS, the Wesleyan University Science and Art Scientific Journal. Service Learning Projects provide an additional mechanism for learning and teaching these topics to high school students. The topics listed below form the basis for service learning projects, lectures, writing, and classroom discussions:
SERVICE LEARNING: Students prepare a learning module on one of the topics, practice their presentation in the class, and present their topic in local high schools. Students are responsible for creating demonstrations and models, videotaping and podcasting their presentations, conducting learning assessments, and writing a self-reflection of their projects.
TOPIC 1: How does sensory deprivation alter writing of the nervous system? Students learn about the Connectome project to map synaptic connections in the brains of diverse species, including humans. Additional readings highlight the role of sensory experience-driven changes in gene expression and neural structure in the visual system and the establishment of binocularity.
TOPIC 2: What neural circuits mediate social behavior and how are these circuits altered in autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities? Readings include primary literature on autism spectrum disorders, savant syndromes, and animal models for neuropsychiatric disorders. Students also read selections from books and articles on this topic by Temple Grandin and Oliver Sacks.
TOPIC 3: What are the causes of epilepsy and how do seizures alter the function of the brain? What types of therapies, including deep brain stimulation, gene therapy, and stem cell therapy, are envisioned for treating intractable seizures following traumatic brain injury? Readings and guest lectures highlight recent work in stem cell and gene therapy for temporal lobe epilepsy.
TOPIC 4: How do exercise and environmental enrichment/stimulation contribute to neural recovery and neuroprotection in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and Parkinson's disease? Readings and guest lectures focus on exercise-induced changes in neurogenesis, growth factors, and regional blood flow in the brain.
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