Harry MacKay Harry MacKay

NEUR1201: Introduction to Mental Health and Disease

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I taught four semesters of NEUR1201 from Fall 2013-Summer 2015.  This is Carleton’s introductory neuroscience course, intended for students beginning the Neuroscience and Mental Health program, as well as students from other programs interested in the brain and mental health.  In addition to designing the course content (following in the footsteps of Carleton’s Dr. Kim Hellemans), I also made a video lecture on the neuroscience of concussions (viewable here).  My average teaching evaluation score for the four semesters of this course I taught was 4.76/5.00, and I won a 2015 Contract Instructor Teaching Award for my work here.

Course Description (reproduced from the syllabus): Mental health is an issue that is of universal concern. Since at least half of us will be affected either directly or indirectly by mental illness, there is a great deal to be gained by understanding the issues and how scientists and clinicians are currently approaching them. Recent decades have seen an explosion in the quantity and sophistication of research into the neurobiological basis of mental illness. The various forms of mental illness are now understood as originating from disturbances in the structure and function of the brain.

In this course we will first cover some basic neuroscience, learning about the structure and function of the nervous system, and how the brain regulates bodily function. Subsequently, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and brain changes associated with a variety of forms of mental illness, as well as how current treatments affect the brain. Finally, we will explore how environmental and lifestyle factors can influence the brain, and how such influences may be either helpful or detrimental.

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