The Brain and Space

开始时间: 04/22/2022 持续时间: 6 weeks

所在平台: CourseraArchive

课程类别: 生物与生命科学

大学或机构: Duke University(杜克大学)

授课老师: 其他


课程评论: 1 个评论

评论课程        关注课程


Knowing where things are is effortless.  But “under the hood,” your brain devotes a tremendous amount of computational power to figuring out even the simplest of details about the world around you and your position in it.  Recognizing your mother, finding your phone, going to the grocery store, playing the banjo – these require careful sleuthing and coordination across different sensory and motor domains.  This course traces the brain’s detective work to create this sense of space and argues that the brain’s spatial focus permeates our cognitive abilities, affecting the way we think and remember.

The material in this course overlaps with that normally covered in classes on perception or systems neuroscience.


1. Vision
Seeing: from the brain’s molecular light switches to a world in depth

This unit explains what light is, and how it is detected by photoreceptors in the eye.  It includes a history of vision research dating back to ancient Greece, and describes the role of the astronomer Kepler in deducing how the image of the visual scene is formed on the eye.  How the two-dimensional projection of the visual scene onto the surface of the retina is interpreted by the brain as a three-dimensional world is explored through examples from various artists such as Magritte and Escher.

2. Somatosensory
Body sense:  Measuring and mismeasuring your own shape, and why negative numbers are hard (for your brain)

This unit covers how we know about the positions of the parts of our bodies.  Some intriguing illusions of body position sense are covered.  The combination of body position sense and our sense of touch yields a sense of the three-dimensional location and shape of solid objects.

3. Brain maps
Brain maps and polka dots

This unit introduces the brain mechanisms responsible for sensory processing of vision and touch, with an emphasis on the formation of sensory maps in the visual and somatosensory pathways of the brain.  The implications of these maps and other neural response properties for perception of spatial location are explored, with an emphasis on object motion and contours.  Experiments using electrical stimulation in sensory maps to probe their connection to perception are discussed. 

4. Auditory
Sherlock ear: how your brain finds sounds

This unit turns to a sensory system for which spatial location must be inferred from indirect measurements.  For vision and touch, the sensory receptors are able to measure spatial location in kind:  objects at different locations activated different sensory receptors.  For hearing, the brain must compare and contrast the sounds arriving at each ear to make inferences about the location of origin.  This unit discusses the how this works, from the nature of sound itself to the interpretation of location-dependent sound attributes by the brain.

5. Brain meters for space
Moving with maps and meters

This unit introduces the concept of a “meter” for spatial signals in the brain.  More commonly but somewhat obscurely referred to as rate coding, this kind of representation involves neural response rates that scale in proportion to spatial location – a meter whose level indicates position. This kind of code is used in movements, the sense of body position, and in the early stages of the auditory pathway.  

6. Reference frames
Defining space: reference frames

Spatial locations are measured with respect to reference positions, but these reference positions differ depending on the type of sensory input.  The eyes measure locations with respect to the eyes, and the ears measure locations with respect to the ears.  This unit discusses some illusions related to this issue and describes brain mechanisms for translating between different reference frames.  Synthesizing a sense of space across time as the body and its sense organs move through the environment requires integrating memories of the sensory input at different times and positions.

7. Navigation  
Going places: Balance, flow, steps and shortcuts

This unit shifts focus in two ways:  (a) it involves space on a larger scale such as traveling from one place to another, and (b) it involves a sense of one’s own position in the environment as opposed to the position of objects or events in that scene.  The role of the sense of balance and one’s own movements are incorporated.  Animal species that navigate long distances and how they do this are described. 

8. Space and memory

This unit builds the first of several important links between the sense of space and other kinds of cognition.  Memory is closely linked to spatial processing at several levels.  This unit discusses the role of the hippocampus in both navigation and memory, and tells the story of patient HM, whose hippocampus was surgically destroyed in the 1950’s, resulting in lifelong amnesia.

9. Thinking spatially

This unit argues that the space-sensitive regions of the brain do much more than evaluate location.  Instead, these areas are recruited for cognitive processes such as paying attention, making decisions, and planning future actions.  The kinds of computations that the brain performs on spatial inputs may resemble the kinds of computations that the brain performs on abstract concepts and ideas.  Thinking about space and more general kinds of thinking may involve similar brain mechanisms.



optman 2014-05-09 22:56 0 票支持; 0 票反对



This course is about how detective work by the brain creates our sense of spatial location from a variety of sensory and motor sources, and how this spatial sense in turn shapes our cognitive abilities.


杜克大学 duke 大脑 脑科学 神经科学