Every single aspect of our being is regulated by our brain. Understanding our brain is understanding who we are. How does the brain work? This nagging question has been occupying many generations of researchers and philosophers. Join them and be overwhelmed by the complexity and beauty of the three-pound organ that is the seat of our intelligence and controls our ability to think, talk, feel, see, hear, remember things, walk and much more. If you are up for an exciting journey into your brain, sign up for the minor 'Brain, mind and consciousness.'

STUDY PROGRAMME

The minor consists of four courses (30 EC).

This course offers an introduction to the main topics of brain and mind. After completion of the course the student should have a basic understanding of the functional anatomy, physiology, and cell biology of the brain. In addition, the student should be able to relate specific aspects of the mind (e.g. perception, emotion) to brain functions. These topics will be studied in many different ways, using both scientific and popular science sources of information and inspiration. Since the brain cannot be understood from a single disciplinary angle, this course uses a multidisciplinary approach.

Warnings that humanized robots will take over our human society in the future regularly pop up in the news. An important question related to this is ‘are we able to produce humanized robots that could function autonomously and gain similar social, emotional and cognitive skills as we see in human beings? In order to critically evaluate this idea, we will also address questions like ‘what is consciousness?’, ‘what constitutes our mind?’ and ‘what processes are involved in different cognitive functions?’. These questions will be addressed from a multidisciplinary angle, including computational, biological, pharmaceutical, psychological and philosophical perspectives. Interactive lectures and workshops address the multidisciplinary exploration of consciousness and its translation to artificial intelligence. Cognitive functions and their translation to robotics will be studied within a large group project.

The course is about the possible role of epigenetics in the development of autism spectrum disorders and psychosis. Central to the course is a thought‐provoking book by Christopher Badcock, "The imprinted brain" (2009). It describes a radical new theory of the mind and mental illness based on the recent discovery of genomic imprinting. An interdisciplinary approach is used to research the question whether it is feasible and/or desirable to prevent or treat autism spectrum disorders and psychosis. This course is a mixed online/offline course in which students from Utrecht University will work together with students from the University of Leeds (UK).

This course serves as the ‘capita’ of this minor. During this course, students will get a multidisciplinary overview of ongoing brain research at Utrecht Science Park, from language and the developing brain to neurophotonics, from the brain that sees the world through a cyclopean eye to brain and gut signaling. In addition, the course offers a more in-depth individual training in interdisciplinary research in the context of brain function. Students will be challenged to link their individual interdisciplinary research to the framework of ongoing Utrecht brain research they build as a group. After completion of the course, the student should have a better understanding of the different approaches used in brain research and the different scientific languages used in the various disciplines involved. In addition, the student should be able to individually perform and report on an interdisciplinary (literature) study.

EDUCATIONAL APPROACH

This is an English taught interdisciplinary minor.
The principal instructional formats used in this minor are: (1) lectures, classroom setting, interactive, (2) small group meetings using reciprocal peer tutoring, (3) small group meetings for project-based learning, and (4) directed self-study, supported by blended learning and flipped classroom techniques. These instructional formats will be employed with the goal of stimulating self-efficacy of participants and, at the same time, providing appropriate scaffolding in the learning process. In addition, the instructional formats will be geared towards using the skills critical thinking, collaboration, and reflection.

ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS

The minor is accessible for every student from the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and comparable Faculties from other universities. Because of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary character of the minor, the courses are designed to accommodate students from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds.
Students can sign up for the individual courses of the minor, as well as for the minor as a whole.

For completion of the minor as a whole the courses ‘Conscious brain and unconscious mind’, ‘The imprinted brain’, and ‘Wiring brain research’ are obligatory. The entrance course ‘Meet your brains’ is interchangeable with another (basic) neuroscience course. Please contact the minor coordinator for possibilities.

Specific entrance requirements for the individual courses can be found in the OSIRIS course catalog, and the Courseplanner.

APPLICATION AND REGISTRATION
How to register for this minor and its course modules, depends on whether you are a student of Utrecht University or not.

Utrecht University students can register for a minor and the individual modules online via OSIRIS during the Faculty of Science course registration period. You must register for both the minor itself and each course module individually.

REGISTRATION STUDY RESULTS
Once you have completed the course modules, provided that you were enrolled for both the minor itself and each course module individually in OSIRIS, the minor and study results will be listed on your Study Progress Review.

Students from other Universities can register for the minor and each course module using the digital registration form during the Faculty of Science course registration period. Besides that, we also need a Proof of Registration from your educational institution. Please send the form and the Proof of Registration - preferably via email - to the Student Desk.

Registration deadline
For start in 1st semester, register no later than 1 June
For start in 2nd semester, register no later than 15 November

STUDY RESULTS
Once you have completed the course modules with a passing result, you can apply for a list of grades (transcript) of the minor programme at the Student Desk.

MORE INFORMATION
If you wish to know more, or have questions about this minor, please contact the minor coordinator prof. dr. Ferdi Engels.