M1 | Neuronal Mechanisms for Information Transmission
The Brain with David Eagleman
The course includes the Emmy-nominated series on PBS/BBC entitled ‘The Brain with David Eagleman,’ and the companion book: ‘The Brain: The Story of You’ by David Eagleman.
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and a New York Times bestselling author. He directs the Center for Science and Law, a national non-profit institute, and serves as an adjunct professor at Stanford University. His interest in neuroscience are wide-ranging; he is best known for his work on time perception, brain plasticity, synesthesia, sensory substitution, and neurolaw.
We share Eagleman’s passion for making neuroscience accessible to everyone seeking to understand the human brain and how it makes us who we are. Please explore www.eagleman.com to get to know Eagleman better. In ‘References’ (below), we have included the companion book to the PBS series (‘The Brain: The Story of You‘).
THE BRAIN aired in six 1-hour episodes on PBS during Oct-Nov 2015. This preview is taken from www.eagleman.com. Throughout this course, we will show short (~3 min) video clips in which Eagleman illustrates concepts and/or principles that directly relate to course content. In addition, you will view each of the six episodes in its entirety as part of assignments associated with different course modules.
Dr. Eagleman (PBS, 2015 – ‘The Brain with David Eagleman,’ Episode 1: “How the Brain Creates Reality”) takes viewers on an extraordinary journey that explores how the brain, locked in silence and darkness without direct access to the world, conjures up the rich and beautiful world we all take for granted. “What is Reality?” begins with the astonishing fact that this technicolour multi-sensory experience we are having is a convincing illusion conjured up for us by our brains.
In the outside world there is no color, no sound, no smell. These are all constructions of the brain. Instead, there is electromagnetic radiation, air compression waves, and aromatic molecules all of which are interpreted by the brain as colour, sound and smell. Cutting edge graphics show that data from the outside are rendered into electrochemical signals inside the brain, which map meaningfully onto physical reality. Our experience of reality is an electrochemical rendition of the world outside. Visual illusions are reminders that what’s important to the brain is not being faithful to “reality” but enabling us to perceive just enough so that we can navigate successfully through it. The brain leaves a lot out of its beautiful rendition of the physical world, a fact that Dr. Eagleman reveals using experiments and street demonstrations. Each one of our brains is different, and so is the reality it produces. What is reality? It’s whatever your brain tells you it is! [Source: PBS website]
Electrochemical signals travel through dense networks of neurons. The brain scans through this non-stop incoming stream of information in search for patterns which become your reality.
We start our journey by providing a brief overview of the main divisions of our central nervous system (CNS) and the elements that make up neural tissues. We then will investigate how information is encoded in electrochemical signals, how these signals are generated, and how electrochemical signals are used to control simple circuits that control behavior.
- Eagleman, D. M. (2015). The Brain: The Story of You. New York: Vintage Books, Penguin Random House, LLC. [PDF]