Contemporary Issues in Neuroscience

Professor Joe Herbert and Dr Tristan Bekinschtein

See this course profiled on the PKP 2015 blog!

The brain is the last frontier of human biology. The functioning of the brain makes us what we are. The brain enables us survive as an individual and as a species, to react to the changing environment, to store and retrieve information from the past and make decisions accordingly. Such complex machinery could only work properly if it is very plastic and is able to change and repair itself. This course will cover four major issues that are currently in the forefront of brain research. We will discuss the neurobiology of key human drives, such as eating, drinking and having sex, and the ways the brain deals with stress from the environment throughout our life. Later lectures will focus on memory, attention and higher cognitive functions.

The course consists of 4 modules divided into 12 lectures (1 h 15 min each) and 8 seminars (1 h 15 min each) linked to the lectures. The themes of the four modules are below. Please refer to the course syllabus for more details and required reading.

  • Keeping you and your species alive: how the brain protects you from danger, ensures that you eat properly, drink when you need to, and reproduce (Professor Joe Herbert)
  • How does stress affect our brain? (Professor Joe Herbert)
  • The neuroscience of learning and memory (Dr Tristan Bekinschtein)
  • Attention and higher cognitive functions (Dr Tristan Bekinschtein)


Intended Audience

Biology, psychology, neuroscience majors as well as students considering medical school or graduate programme in neuroscience.

Previous Knowledge

Some background in neuroscience is required. The level of the course is roughly similar to the Cambridge Part II courses, with some appropriate introductory materials included.