50 Fascinating Lectures All About Your Brain

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September 13th, 2009

By Pamelia Brown

Whether you are studying psychology, neurobiology, or just have a passion for learning about the brain, there are plenty of interesting lectures out there that will help you learn all about the brain. These lectures provide a huge amount of information on how the brain develops, the science behind the mind-body connection, atypical ways the brain reacts, progress in the field of brain-machine interactions, or more general psychology topics.

The Anatomy and Development of the Brain

From what the specific areas of the brain control to how the brain develops to how the brain ages, these lectures cover it all.

  1. BrainMind.com. Find six video lectures given by Rhawn Joseph, PhD as he discusses what each area of the brain controls various aspects about the brain from language to mental illness to memory to emotion.
  2. The Human Brain and Muscular System. Marian Diamond at UC Berkeley gives this popular lecture about the human brain and how it works also describes how the brain controls the muscular system.
  3. The Frontal Lobes: Cognition and Awareness. Learn about the frontal lobe and how injuries in this area affect people. The video highlights the story of Bill, an intelligent lawyer, who suffered an aneurysm in the frontal lobe and lost the ability to problem-solve.
  4. Scanning the brain and probing the mind. Two neurologists, Nigel Leigh and Blaz Koritnik, discuss how brain scanning can teach researchers about the brain as well as help explore what people are feeling and thinking based on brain wave patterns.
  5. Brain Imaging and Evolution. Cognitive scientist Martin Sereno explores how the human mind has evolved beyond that of the brain of other animals in this lecture.
  6. Brain Development. Joan Stiles from UCSD discusses the genetic and environmental influences on the way human brains develop.
  7. Building the Brain: From Simplicity to Complexity. This lecture explores the ways neurons adapt to the simple and complex activities necessary to make the human brain work.
  8. Brain-Immune Connections in Health and Disease. This lecture given by Esther Sternberg, M.D. explores how stress and other issues affect the brain and how pain management for women differs. Dr. Sternberg advocates embracing the ideas of how belief in wellness can affect treatment and healing.
  9. Defining the Mind. Psychiatrist Sophia Vinogradov discusses the functions of the brain from a biological perspective and how they contribute to emotion, memory, perception, and more.
  10. Research on Aging: The Inconstant Brain. Terry L. Jernigan, PhD debunks the old view that the human brain develops until around age 5, then is stable, an deteriorates throughout the aging process without hope of regeneration. She talks about recent research that has shown that the human brain does in fact react to experiences, pathogens, and pharmacology.

Neuroscience

These lectures take a look at a variety of topics in neuroscience, including language, music and the brain, plasticity, how behavior shapes the brain, and memory.

  1. Grey Matters: Understanding Language. Jeff Elman, PhD, a professor at UCSD, lectures on the importance of language and discusses some of the research exploring how language is different from other animals’ forms of communication.
  2. Structural Plasticity in the Adult Brain. Elizabeth Gould lectures as a part of the President’s Lecture Series at Princeton about how the human brain creates neurons or restructures neural connections and how the research in this field can lead to harnessing these findings to create solutions for brain illness or injury that previously left those impacted with diminished brain capacity.
  3. Neuroscience and Behavior. These video lectures make up an entire video course at MIT and cover the various regions of the brain and what they control.
  4. Brain Structure and Its Origins. Another video lecture series from MIT, this one explores major CNS structures with an emphasis on those being studied for research in development and plasticity.
  5. How Social Behavior Changes the Brain. Seventeen minutes into this video Dr. Russell Fernald begins his lecture exploring evolutionary biology and specifically, how the brain changes based on social behavior.
  6. Music and the Mind. Aniruddh Patel of the Neurosciences Institute discusses the intriguing connection between music and the brain, exploring both what music can teach about the brain and what the brain can share about music.
  7. Health Matters: Behavior and Our Brain. Renowned neuroscientist Terrence Sejnowski talks about what scientists have begun to learn about the ways the brain contributes to what people like, how people behave, and what skills people have.
  8. Decisions Responsibility and the Brain. Learn how the brain guides the decision-making process in this lecture given by Professor Patricia Churchland at UCSD.
  9. Grey Matters: Conscious and Unconscious Memory Systems. Dr. Larry Squire discusses memory and memory problems in this lecture. He includes real-life examples of those suffering from memory issues.
  10. Perception: Taste Smell and Vision. Find a clear and interesting presentation of what perception is and how the brain affects perception through the senses in this lecture given by Professor Charles Zuker.

Atypical Brain Functioning

Addiction, depression, and autism are just a few of the subjects covered in the lectures here.

  1. Grey Matters: The Science and Fiction of Autism. Laura Schreibman, PhD, one of the preeminent scientists in the field of autism, discusses some of the facts and controversies surrounding autism.
  2. Psychopathology and Psychotherapy 1. Learn the basics of abnormal psychology and ways to treat these abnormalities in this video lecture from psychology class at Berkeley.
  3. Psychopathology and Psychotherapy 2. A continuation from the prior lecture, here the focus is on categorizing diagnostic symptoms and how this process has evolved over the years as well as the origins of mental illness.
  4. Psychopathology and Psychotherapy 3. The third in this series, this lecture wraps up the talks from Berkeley with a look at the make-up of specific mental illnesses and treatment of mental illness.
  5. Effects of Early Institutionalization on Brain and Behavior. Charles A. Nelson, PhD of Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital discusses a huge project exploring the effects of early institutionalization of children on their brain development and behavior. The project explores institutionalized children in Romania, a country infamous for state-run institutions that sprang up after a failed national movement for population growth.
  6. Brain Mind and Behavior: Why Drugs for Depression?. Dr. Steve Hamilton of the psychiatry department at USCF discusses depression and how medication can work as an effective treatment for depression.
  7. How Do We Predict the Future: Brains Rewards and Addiction. Terrence Sejnowski of The Salk Institute talks about the structure of the brain as well as how rewards and addiction work in the brain.
  8. Brain Mind and Behavior: Emotions and Health. Explore the connection between emotion and health as well as learn about many of the major illnesses affecting nervous system problems in this lecture by Jason Satterfield, PhD.
  9. Pain and the Brain. Allan Basbaum, PhD lectures on the complexity of pain, the biology behind it, and treatment of chronic and acute pain. Some of the images in this video may be too graphic for some.
  10. Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Perception of Emotion. Discussing and describing autism as well as ways to treat autism, Blythe Corbett, PhD focuses specifically on using video to change behavior in children who struggle to understand emotional and social cues.

Brain and Machine Interactions

Computers and other machines run by brain signals are the focus of these lectures.

  1. Brain Computer Interfaces. Klause-Robert Muller lectures in Australia about making use of brain signals in computer interfaces in applications ranging from the more practical gaming and computer usage to the research and use in medical settings.
  2. Brain-Machine Interfaces Based on Neuronal Ensemble Recordings. Mikhail A. Lebedev from Duke University tells about research done with a monkey controlling a robot in order to help researchers better understand brain-machine interfaces to promote medical advances for those facing paralysis.
  3. EEG-Based Brain-Computer Interface for Communication and Control: Independent Home Use. Theresa Vaughan from the Wadsworth Center in New York talks about brain-computer interfaces (BCI) for those with suffering from disabilities such as ALS, brainstem stroke, and spinal cord injury.
  4. Plasticity at the Brain-Computer Interface. From the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, Andrew Jackson discusses the potential of BCI to stimulate muscles in those with spinal cord injuries so that paralyzed limbs can actually be stimulated to work via brain signals.
  5. The Machine Learning Approach to Brain-Computer Interfacing – Part 1. Find out how researchers are determining ways to harvest brain signals to use in BCI so patients do not have to spend extensive amounts of time learning how to use the technology in this lecture given by Klause-Robert Muller.
  6. The Machine Learning Approach to Brain-Computer Interfacing – Part 2. Matthias Krauledat continues this video lecture by discussing the work being done from the computer and software side of the research.
  7. New BMI approaches: Selective Attention to Auditory and Tactile Stimulus Streams. Jeremey Hill discusses new research going on to create machines to help patients who are "completely locked-in" with normal brain function but no physical control over their body, including their eyes.
  8. Coping with Brain Injury: Robots and Rehabilitation. Find out about robotics that are helping those with brain injury not only relearn practical functions, but are also teaching the brain to do what it was able to do before the injury.
  9. Demonstration of Brain Computer Interface Using the Emotive Epoc. Watch this demonstration of a mind-powered game in this lecture from Stanford University.

Psychology

From introductory psychology classes to dreams to happiness to communication, these psychology lectures offer plenty about how the brain works.

  1. Introduction to Psychology. Yale professor Paul Bloom offers 20 lectures from his class to teach about the basics of the brain, history of psychology, and a whole host of topics relating to the brain and humans including emotion, language, sex, mental illness, and happiness.
  2. Introduction to Psychology. This intro class is from MIT, and the video lectures cover everything from sensing and perceiving to memory to intelligence to dreams.
  3. Communication and Conflict in Couples and Families. Explore various aspects of relationships and how they work (and don’t work) over long term in this series of lectures given by two professors from UCLA.
  4. Personal Identity, Neuroethics and the Human Brain. Michael S. Gazzaniga from Dartmouth University talks about neuroscience, ethics, and personal identity in this lecture from the Princeton Public Lecture Series.
  5. Psychology of Dreams. Check in each week to get a new audio lecture from the psychology class from UC Berkeley that focuses on the mechanics of sleep, the history of psychological study of dreams, dreams and cognition, and more.
  6. Clinical Psychology. This weekly Berkeley podcast explores such clinical topics as diagnosis and assessment, research methods, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, legal issues, and developmental disorders.
  7. Personality and Social Interaction. This video lecture from an introductory class takes a look at behaviors and how they are shaped by human intelligence and experience.
  8. Psychology Lecture Index. A collection of lectures, these correspond to the text Introduction to Psychology by James Kalat and are a part of the General Psychology class at College of DuPage.
  9. A Short History of Psychological Terror. Find out how the CIA took advantage of the powers of the human mind to create psychological torture, how it was used, and how it became legal to do so in this lecture.
  10. The Awesome Lawfulness of Your Nightly Dreams. G. William Domhoff, a research professor at UC Santa Cruz, discusses the systematic research done on dreams and details his work with DreamBank.
  11. Happiness: Living and Thinking About It. Daniel Kahneman, renowned psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, lectures on a variety of topics pertaining to well-being such as the measures of well-being; specific factors of happiness such as economics, marriage, and perceptions of well-being; and happiness across different countries.

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