Computer Science (Human Computer Interaction) (3 Years) [BSc]

How to Make a Brain


Unit code: BIOL21451
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit?: N

Requisites

Prerequisite

Aims

The unit aims to: teach students about basic neuroanatomy in model organisms and humans. The majority of lectures will focus on how the anatomy of the nervous system is established during development and will include the latest knowledge on neural stem cells and how they might be used to help fix the brain when it is broken. The unit will also explain the relationship between the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous systems and the many roles that astrocytes play in helping to maintain a healthy brain.

 

Overview

Initial lectures will cover comparative anatomy of nervous systems in model organisms before focussing on the human. The ascending (spinothalamic) and descending (corticospinal) pathways will be explained before moving on to anatomy of the brain. This will lead on to lectures that provide a step-by-step explanation as to how these structures are constructed from neural induction through to the formation of functional circuits. Later lectures will cover the importance of plasticity in relation to early sensory experience and the role of stress in epigenetic shaping of post-natal brain.

 

Teaching and learning methods

Most of the learning will be in the form of standard lectures. However, there will be three lectures (4, 8 and 11) that will be a change from the normal. In lecture 4, a brief introduction will lead to a group-based-research exercise where students will be split into groups. Each group will then be asked to use mobile devices to find information that will help complete a skeleton diagram. The diagram will have four separate sections so that several groups will work on a particular portion. When all the information is collated it will show the four main signalling pathways that shape early development and help pattern the early brain. After a short lecture section a similar exercise will be used to complete the main gradients that pattern the entire brain. This second exercise will also require the students to complete a skeleton diagram showing how these gradients relate to brain morphology. Lecture 8 will provide a short pre-lecture podcast leading to several questions that the students will need to research prior to the lecture. The lecture will then consist of small discussion groups leading to a final grand-debate. Following the debate the lecturer will provide summary diagrams that, hopefully, reflect what has been discussed. The students will then be asked, given their collective knowledge, if the diagrams make sense or could be altered to provide a better summary of the key information. Lecture 11 is the mid-point of the unit so the second half of this lecture will be used for an interactive quiz. This will allow students to gauge how well they are retaining information and provide them with useful feedback at the most appropriate time. As an additional aid for the students to assess their progress, four formative online assessments will be made available. These will be Blackboard-based and test information covered in lectures 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20. Each test will become active during the relevant week (i.e. weeks 3, 6, 9 and 12) and remain open until after the exam.

 

Learning outcomes

 

Category of outcome

Students should/will (please delete as appropriate) be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Explain the main anatomic divisions of the brain.
  • Understand how the different regions of the brain are formed.
  • Explain the main mechanisms that shape the brain.
  • Describe the main steps involved in generating a functional human brain from initial induction through to the generation of functional circuits.
  • Explain the role of glial cells in brain function and maintenance.
  • Appreciate the role of stem cells during brain development and also in brain research and therapy.
  • Explain the role of perinatal environmental stimuli in shaping the developing brain.

 

 

Intellectual skills

The study of brain development led to the discovery of many of the basic cellular mechanisms that are now known to operate throughout the body. This unit will therefore provide students with knowledge of several key mechanisms that have wider application throughout biology and beyond. They should therefore be able to apply knowledge from this unit to other biological systems.

 

Practical skills

N/A

 

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Components of this unit are designed to test the student’s ability to rapidly locate information (both alone and via group-delegation) and participate in group-based discussions to formulate a consensus opinion. Students will therefore gain confidence in using evidence to support self-constructed arguments. These skills are essential in any job setting.

 

Knowledge and understanding

Students should be able to: 

-          Explain the main anatomic divisions of the brain.

-          Understand how the different regions of the brain are formed.

-          Explain the main mechanisms that shape the brain.

-          Describe the main steps involved in generating a functional human brain from initial induction through to the generation of functional circuits.

-          Explain the role of glial cells in brain function and maintenance.

-          Appreciate the role of stem cells during brain development and also in brain research and therapy.

-          Explain the role of perinatal environmental stimuli in shaping the developing brain.

 

Intellectual skills

The study of brain development led to the discovery of many of the basic cellular mechanisms that are now known to operate throughout the body. This unit will therefore provide students with knowledge of several key mechanisms that have wider application throughout biology and beyond. They should therefore be able to apply knowledge from this unit to other biological systems.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Components of this unit are designed to test the student’s ability to rapidly locate information (both alone and via group-delegation) and participate in group-based discussions to formulate a consensus opinion. Students will therefore gain confidence in using evidence to support self-constructed arguments. These skills are essential in any job setting.

Assessment Further Information

 

Assessment task

Length

How and when feedback is provided

Weighting within unit (if relevant)

 

1) Online Formative Tests

    i) Test 1 (Lectures 1-5)

   ii) Test 2 (Lectures 6-10)

  iii) Test 3 (Lectures 11-15)

  iv) Test 4 (Lectures 16-20)

 

2) End of Semester Examination

        i) section A – MCQs

       ii) section B – short answers

 

 

L05 to exam

L10 to exam

L15 to exam

L20 to exam

 

 

 

 

 

1hr - 40 questions

1hr –   5 questions 

Each test will consist of20 MCQs and 2 SAQs.

Feedback will be via BB.

Once open, each assessment will remain open to provide formative feedback up until the exam. For SAQs this feedback will include a break-down of a typical mark scheme. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100%

  1. 50%
  2. 50%

 

Recommended reading

 

  1. Neuroscience Exploring the Brain – 3rd edition (2007) Bear, Conners and Paradiso (Eds), Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia
  2. Building Brains: An Introduction to Neural Development (2011) Price, Jarman, Mason and Kind (Eds), Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester

 

For Information and advice on Link2Lists reading list software, see:

http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/academicsupport/informationandadviceonlink2listsreadinglistsoftware/

Study hours

  • Lectures - 22 hours
  • Independent study hours - 100 hours

Teaching staff

Nicholas Glossop - Unit coordinator

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