Humans typically assume that their intellectual abilities represent the apex of what is biologically possible. In this seminar, we will critically review current beliefs about the psychological mechanisms that make thinking, consciousness, memory, emotions, and social skills possible. We will also discuss scientific strategies for determining experimentally what the cognitive abilities of humans and other animals are. By understanding how underlying, often hidden, thought processes can vary across species, participants in the course can gain a greater appreciation of how minds work, as well as skills in evaluating ongoing scientific research in neuroscience and psychology.
Eduardo Mercado is a cognitive neuroscientist with interests in brain plasticity as it relates to learning, memory, and perception. His interdisciplinary training includes degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, and psychology, as well as training in the philosophy of science and in computational neuroscience. Both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have funded his research, and he was named a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 2009. He is also the coauthor of an an innovative undergraduate textbook—Learning and Memory: From Brain to Behavior (currently in its 3rd edition)—that was the first to integrate findings from experimental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and clinical neuropsychology, as well as the first to fully integrate findings from both human and animal studies. He is currently working to develop new physiological monitoring techniques that can enable students to identify times during the day when their brains are maximally plastic.
Last updated: October 23, 2017 3:45 pm EST