Brain and Mind

What happens inside our head to make us think and act?

Integration between disciplines

The purpose of this minor is to acquaint the student with the different fields of Neuroscience. The student will gain insight into the latest knowledge of how the brain works and also how this knowledge can be used to understand cognitive processes, social interactions between individuals, anti-social behavior as well as different brain diseases, such as depression, addictions, attention, or eating disorders. The nature-nurture debate will be discussed as well as recent updates in human genome research. 

In addition, the minor provides an introduction into recent scientific technological advances in brain-machine interfaces, deep brain stimulation, and robotics. The integration between disciplines, such as biology, psychology, sociology and genetics plays a central role in this minor. Students learn to think critically about how knowledge of the brain and the human genome can be applied to deal with societal issues. Please check the Brain and Mind website for more details.

Cognitive Neuroscience: 

In this course students examine how the brain perceives the outside world and how this leads to cognitive behavior. There is a general introduction into brain function and neuronal communication, after which the biological basis of cognitive processes such as perception, consciousness, language, learning, memory, sleep, emotion, decision and stress will be discussed.

Nature versus nurture: 

In this course the influences of genes and environment on behavior will be dissected using empirical evidence obtained from adoption, twin and family studies.

Brain in trouble:

 The focus of this course is on the etiology of mental disorders, such as addiction, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and mood disorders, with special attention for the nature-nurture discussion. Various treatments options for these conditions, including the use of pharmacological agents, behavioral therapy and deep brain stimulation will be discussed. Students will be challenged to critically reflect on the boundaries between normality and abnormality and the implications for society.

The developing brain:

In this course we will discuss pre- and postnatal brain development. We will focus both on early development in relation to diseases as autism and schizophrenia, as well as on puberty and adolescence, and issues related to this stage of development, such as the effects on the brain of early drug use (alcohol, nicotine). Last, we will discuss specific aspects of the aging brain, including diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Mind and Machine:

In this course, the current status in creating artificial brains and artificial intelligence is discussed. Students learn the theory behind integrating brains and computers, and experience hands-on how brain activity can control computers to write or play computer games. The application of neural strategies and artificial intelligence to solve societal problems is explained and demonstrated during visits to commercial partners. Students work in groups to investigate how close science has come to science fiction for specific themes.

For specific information about each course, please visit our study guide.

Admission and registration

Admission
This minor is open to third year BSc students alpha and gamma topics (Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Law, Artificial Intelligence etc.) and students from Lifesciences (Biology, Fysics, Chemistry, Medicine, Movement Science) with a broad interest. Students of Biomedical Sciences, and Health and Life Sciences (major Biomedical), as well as students that plan to pursue a career in Neuroscience can follow the more specialised minor Biomolecular and Neurosciences. This minor is a university minor.

Registration
Please see the application procedure for more information.

Questions about the programme

For specific questions regarding content, please contact Dr. Tinca Polderman via tinca.polderman@vu.nl or +31205982834.

Student testimonials

Anton Wrisberg, 3rd year BSc in Business Administration and Project Management
"This minor gave me the option to pursue my existing interest in the brain, by offering a great array of courses. This minor presents a collection of bright like-minded students and I found many good friends in these classes. Any student – Dutch or international – with just the slightest interested in the brain owes it to themself to take part in this minor!"

Giacomo Bignardo, 3rd year BA, Arts and Music study
"What an experience! I met guys and girls from around the world and from every kind of discipline.The volume of information about the state of knowledge and research in neuroscience was really massive. Now I’m able to look more critically at scientific developments in this field."

Samenvatting Brain and Mind

Taal

Engels

Duur

1 semester (30 EC)

Startdatum

1 September

Interessegebied

Gezondheid en Beweging

Faculteit

Bètawetenschappen