Course taught primarily online. Students will attend an introductory class on campus and access instructional materials upon returning home at hours that suit their own schedules. This instruction may include lectures recorded by their professor, tutorials, videos, readings and discussion posts. Readings and assignments will be available via AU's Blackboard platform. Professors remain accessible to student questions for 30 days after the on-campus segment.
Course Description: Students interested in medicine, the behavioral sciences, or life sciences will learn how the structure and function of the nervous system relates to human memory, learning, emotions, and sensations; and how psychologists understand normal and abnormal behaviors in terms of these processes. Over the last twenty years, knowledge of the brain has been greatly enhanced by the development of new neuroscience tools and techniques to examine neuroanatomy, neuropharmacology, and neurophysiology. Students will learn how to interpret results of brain imaging and neuropsychological tests, which are used to probe the functioning of the human brain in both normal and abnormal states. Students will also learn about the value of animal models to understanding brain structure and function. They will perform simulations of brain and spinal cord of sheep dissections;and study the structure of nerve cells (neurons) and nerve pathways that connect our extremities to the central nervous system via the peripheral nervous system. The neurons of these systems are able to conduct signals based both on electrical current and chemically-mediated neurotransmitter-receptor mechanisms. Students will read primary literature and design experiments to test their own hypotheses on how changes in neurotransmitter levels affect behavior and nervous system development. Students will be able to apply what they learn to what is known about psychological conditions such as addiction, schizophrenia, and depression.
Course outline available in the spring.
Professor: Dr. Maria Gomez-Serrano was born and raised in Madrid where she obtained her veterinarian degree specializing in animal husbandry and genetics. Right after obtaining her degree, Dr. Gomez-Serrano moved to Washington, DC, and started working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the field of stress-immune response interactions. After four years at NIH, Dr. Gomez-Serrano decided to go back to school for her PhD. She received her PhD in behavioral neuroscience from American University. She focused on the effects of environmental factors on drug susceptibility. After receiving her PhD, Dr. Gomez-Serrano worked for a year at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She has been teaching at American University since 2009. Her interest ranges from drug susceptibility to learning and aging.
Professor:Dr. Adele Doperalski obtained her BS degree in biology from Emory University and then went on to do her PhD in neuroscience at the University of Florida. During her doctoral work, Dr. Doperalski looked at walking recovery following spinal cord injury. In most instances, damage to the spinal cord is permanent thus Dr. Doperalski looked at way the nervous system compensated for this damage in order to produce functional recovery. Following, she completed postdoctoral work at Virginia Commonwealth University where she focused on cellular and molecular changes in the white matter of the brain following traumatic brain injury. This study looked at the differential vulnerability of the brain regions following brain injury and how this could change the functional outcome. Dr. Doperalski now lectures in the biology department at American University. She spends her free time outside as much as possible training for marathons and playing with her family.