Neuroscience: Mapping and Manipulating the Brain

TED Studies, created in collaboration with Wiley, are curated video collections — supplemented by rich educational materials — for students, educators and self-guided learners. In Mapping and Manipulating the Brain, explore the human brain's 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections among them, and learn how neuroscientists are using an array of techniques to chart — and in some cases, change — this amazing organ. Relevant areas of interest, study and coursework include: neuroanatomy, neurology, neuroimaging, systems neuroscience, cognitive neurology, social neurology, optogenetics and philosophy of mind.

Learning outcomes

TED's Mapping and Manipulating the Brain will provide learners with a deeper understanding of:

  • Understand the basic building-blocks of the brain: that the brain is made up of billions of highly organized neurons and glial cells and that neurons are interconnected by a massively complex network of axons. Learners will understand how neurons, axons and synapses work to transmit and process neural information.
  • Understand why it is thought that many of the different components of sensory information processing, higher cognitive function and motor control are carried out by specific regions of the brain. Learners will become familiar with some of the evidence from anatomical, molecular, physiological and functional studies (e.g. using brain scanning or by studying the effects of stroke).
  • Describe some of the abnormalities of perception and higher cognitive functions that the brain can develop, for example synesthesia and phantom limb pain. Learners will be able to suggest how the brain might have gone wrong in order to cause these conditions and how they might be treated.
  • Describe how brain scanning works and its potential to revolutionize diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases, including some of the currently more experimental possibilities, e.g. real time fMRI.
  • Describe the principles underlying optogenetics and how it might lead to new therapies in the future. Learners will be able to identify why it is thought that such therapies might have significant advantages over currently available methods that rely on pharmaceuticals.

Relevant talks

Introductory essay

Begin Mapping and Manipulating the Brain with a fascinating read that gives context and clarity to the material.

About the educator

TED Studies professor: David Price

David Price studied Physiology and Medicine at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford and Developmental Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. He is Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at the University of Edinburgh. He has co-authored two books and over 120 original articles on the brain and its development.

About TED Studies

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Each TED Study offers a curated and sequenced set of TED Talks, along with specially commissioned materials for teaching and self-guided learning. Created by world class experts, they cover topics ranging from "Understanding Happiness" to "Covering World News" to "Ecofying Cities." An abbreviated version of TED Studies is offered here; the full curricula — including special modules on each talk with questions, assignments, key terms and recommended reading — are available for licensing to academic institutions, ministries of education, and media companies worldwide.

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