First-Year Studies: Brains, Minds, and Bodies: Neuropsychological Narratives
Neuropsychology explores notions of self, memory, sensory perception, language, consciousness, and mind-body interactions through study of cases of the breakdown, hyperdevelopment, or recovery of mental function. In this course, we will draw upon a mixture of neuropsychological case studies, scientific research papers, neuroscience texts, novels, and memoirs to investigate current understandings of minds, brains, and bodies, along with the connections between them. The case studies address conditions such as agnosia, amnesia, synesthesia, aphasia, autism, and other alterations in consciousness that arise from brain damage or variations in brain development. Narrative refers to the narrative accounts of neurologists but also to the view of the human brain as primarily a storyteller. A third sense of the term narrative will be invoked in our reading of current fiction and memoirs that incorporate neuropsychological material. This course is designed for students interested in the intersections of science and art. Throughout the year, we will also study the concept of mindfulness and the rapidly expanding literature on the way its practice can affect the brain, mind, and body.