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PSYCH305

HUAMN NEUROSCIENCE: 

Course Breakdown

 

Essay 1 (~3500 words): 20%
Essay 2 (~3500 words): 20%
Exam (plussage applies): 60% or 100%

Course Information

 

Official UoA Website: link.

Basic Information

Psych 305 is a course in human neuroscience, covering materials in cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, psychopharmacology, and neuroimaging and electrophysiological neuroimaging methodologies. In this paper you will meet three lecturers. First and foremost you will learn about the methods used in neuro-psychological experiments (e.g. EEG and fMRI), a brief history on the developing theories of the brain and vision, visual electrophysiology (overlapping from MEDSCI 316) and visual attention. Second, an introduction to neuro-psychopharmacology will be provided, which includes themes in neuronal communication (overlapping from MEDSCI 206), drugs of abuse (overlapping from MEDSCI 317), Depression, and Schizophrenia. Please note that these topics were tailored to 2015 as we had a new lecturer. The final section is probably the most interesting and challenging. Themes include: memory, identity formation, imagination, theory of mind (attributing mental states to oneself and others), and cultural neuroscience. Essays for coursework came from the first two lecturers. Therefore, there was a choice between these lecturers for one essay, and an option to do another essay between two topics from the last lecturer. In addition to the two essays, the exam also consisted of 12 SAQs (4 from each lecturer) with a total time frame of 2 hours. Tutorials are not compulsory but happen once a week for two hours. Typically a tutorial involves reading an article or two, making a power-point presentation in a group on a theme, and then presenting it to the class. There was plussage available for the paper in 2015 without attending tutorials as long as you pass the coursework. This meant that the exam was worth 60% or 100%, depending on whichever gave you the better mark. Lecturers and tutors were very helpful and easy to comprehend. Extra readings were recommended for most lectures. A note on the coursework: a lot of students from a MEDSCI backgrounds found that their marks were unreasonably low. Finally, there are 2 lectures a week (1 x 1hr + 1 x 2hr). 

 

Lecture Content

Topic 1

This section of 8 lectures were taught by Paul Corballis. Paul has been teaching this course for a long time and his father has been involved in the field of cognitive neuroscience for an established period of time now. These lectures have some overlap with MEDSCI 206 (a brief history of neuroscience), MEDSCI 316 (mapping vision on the brain), and MEDSCI 317 (mechanisms behind fMRI and EEG). Despite this overlap, the material is challenging because it is presented from an angle in psychology. That is, you really have to get used to understanding how to read articles and the reasons for the methods used in neuro-psychology experiments. They expected us to critique on the methodology in neuro-psychology experiments in our coursework essay. Visual attention was a truly brand new topic to those from MEDSCI backgrounds. Paul really likes to ask an essay question on this in the exam. He made this clear in the lectures though.

 

Topic 2

Suresh Muthukumaraswamy is a really nice lecturer. Really, his smile is adorable. The first 2 lectures were very simple, covering materials that is second nature to those from MEDSCI backgrounds. Then there were 2 lectures on drugs of abuse. These were mainly facts to memorise, and good revision for those who did MEDSCI 307. Next, two lectures on the theories and treatment of depression were covered. This was the topic of our coursework essay in 2015. As predicted, the essay topic in the exam came from the final two lectures – theories of schizophrenia. Overall, these lecture series of 8 lectures were probably the easiest for those who came from MEDSCI backgrounds. 

 

Topic 3

Reece Roberts took this set of lectures on working memory, false memory, constructive memory, identity formation, imagination, theory of mind (attributing mental states to oneself and others), and cultural neuroscience. This is a very demanding set of lectures due to the amount of experiments done by researchers that you are expected to understand and remember. Essay questions in the exam came from lectures with recommended readings (5 of 8 lectures). I found the material very interesting (and hence fun to remember) but because assignments from various papers can add up near the end of your degree, it can be very difficult to memorise the whole set of lectures the night before the exam.