Neuroscience for beginners

The activity of neurons. If you've had any course related to neuroscience, you're probably familiar with the basics of neurons.  But if not, this section will contain materials to fill you in. 

Understanding what it means to say that a neuron has fired, or that neurons in brain region X communicate with neurons in region Y, will add to your appreciation of how brain activity contributes to learning, memory and other mental phenomena.  Without understanding how neurons communicate with one another, you won't be able to understand how this communication chages as a result of learning.

Understanding neurons 1: Neurons signal sensations to the brain

Understanding neurons 2: The basic components of a neuron

Firing Neurons - Cell Dance:

Understanding neurons 3: How does a neuron send a signal to another neuron?

Visualizing neurons in the brain:


more to come ...


Genetics. It wasn't true when I was an undergraduate, but nowadays a lot of neuroscience is concerned with understanding how learning and memory are related to genes. It's not just about asking how genes lead to brain development, or whether certain individuals have genes that give them an advantage when it comes to learning. At a much deeper level, genes play a role in the things you learn and remember every day.  The job of the genes does not end once the brain and other parts of your body have matured.  They are active participants in the goings-on of the brain, including the brain events that give rise to learning. 

If you're approaching neuroscience with an interest in psychology, you may be put off by the idea of studying genetics and molecular biology. But knowing something about genes and molecular biology will allow you to understand a lot of exciting cutting-edge  research on the molecular ingredients of learning. You'll be surprised at how interesting these fields of study really are.   

What is DNA and how does it work?


If you already have some biology background and recognize the terms - transcription, translation, amino acid, protein, mRNA, nucleotides, codon - then these are terrrific, informative videos about gene transcription and protein synthesis.

For advanced lectures that include topics of gene promoters, transcription factors, cloning, and genetic engineering, this lecture series is thorough and informative.

more to come ...


Beautiful Biology. 

What would it be like to become tiny, and to enter a single cell of your body?  This beautiful video illustrates the inner workings of a cell.  You'll never think of 'cellular biology' the same way again.

 more to come ...



9/13/15 -- Under construction -- check back soon ---