The brain as an organ has fascinated us for a long time. It has been mentioned in ancient texts of several civilizations, including Egyptian hieroglyphics. With advancement in the field of genetics and molecular biology, we have made inroads into understanding how the brain functions not only in humans but also how it was evolved across invertebrate taxa. This has helped us to develop cures for several brain disorders, and led to the discovery of genetic and cellular causes of many brain disorders which otherwise stigmatised and ostracised the patients. Consequently, Neuroscience has removed a lot of taboo around mental health, and neurodiversity.
In this course the students will have a systematic overview of how the human brain
helps us with our senses of vision, hearing, touch as well as performs complex functions
such as decision making, feeling emotions, and storing memory. Using examples from
invertebrate model systems, we will contrast vertebrate brain structure and function
with invertebrate nervous systems. At the base of these complex behaviours is a humble
yet powerful synapse — where two neurons connect with each other to pass on signals.
Students will delve into how single nerve cells make large network connections throughout the central nervous system, have a repertoire of signalling molecules, and when this orchestration breaks down, it can lead to debilitating brain disorders.