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“The Brain for Not-So-Dummies” Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Duke Continuing Studies Duke University Eric W. Harris, PhD.

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Presentation on theme: "“The Brain for Not-So-Dummies” Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Duke Continuing Studies Duke University Eric W. Harris, PhD."— Presentation transcript:

1 “The Brain for Not-So-Dummies” Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Duke Continuing Studies Duke University Eric W. Harris, PhD.

2 Why am I teaching this class? What qualifications do I have?  PhD In Physiology with focus in Neuroscience - recovery of function after brain damage  Post-Doctoral work - neuronal “plasticity” and pharmacology of brain cell communication  15 Years in pharmaceutical industry research- new drugs & mechanisms of action for epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease  12 Years at a CRO doing drug development: designing clinical trials, interacting with FDA on behalf of companies developing drugs for stroke, epilepsy, Huntington’s Disease, Pain, Tourette’s Syndrome, depression among others. What is my motivation?  Retired, pursuing other interests (“hobby farming”)  Still passionate about science, science education, “giving back”, and my area of greatest knowledge and experience is neuroscience (or building chicken coops?)  And there is increasing interest in the brain…

3 Good News: lots of info out there! Bad News: lots of info out there!

4 Caveats  I am not expert in all areas of neuroscience (no-one is).  There is new information every day, so my presentation may not be perfectly up-to-date.  I will say “I don’t know” if I don’t, and “I’m not sure” if I’m not.  I try to avoid stating as fact things that, even if likely, remain to be proven (appropriately skeptical?).  I welcome new ideas that can be scrutinized scientifically  I welcome having my presentation “challenged” scientifically or logically  My goals are to help you understand and question things you see and hear about the brain

5 Course Overview  Week 1: Basic structure and functions of the brain and brain cells  Week 2: Brain dynamics (development, learning and memory, “plasticity”, aging, response to injury)  Week 3: Pathophysiology of selected brain disorders  Week 4: Therapies for brain disorders  Week 5: The fallibility of the human brain  Week 6: A “hot topic” related to the brain - TBD (e.g., “Brain Training”, or the placebo effect, or DSM-V, or …?)

6 Requests  Silence cell phones etc.  Please save questions that are not about the presentation, and comments, stories etc. until the end of a class  Please do interrupt me with “clarifying questions” about the material being presented  Please don’t “side-talk” – it challenges the presenter’s ADD…  Please do give feedback, suggestions, questions  Send to  Or, hand them to the Class Assistant  Please understand if I can’t accommodate all suggestions

7 Week 1- Basic structure and functions of the brain and brain cells  Things to keep in mind:  All human brains share some features, but are also unique because of their genetics, environment, and experiences.  Our brains are constantly changing and “self-organizing”, physically and functionally  Much of what goes on in our brains is “subconscious”  There is a great deal of knowledge about what’s in the brain, but little detailed understanding of how it does much of the “interesting stuff”

8 The Brain is part of the Central Nervous System (CNS) Brain

9 Further Nervous System Subdivision

10 The Human Brain

11 End of Part 1 See Part 2 for more


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