Mind over Matter: History, Science, and Philosophy of Brain

Description: (Formerly numbered General Education Clusters 73A.) Lecture, three hours; discussion, two hours. Course 73A is enforced requisite to 73B, which is enforced requisite to 73CW. Limited to first-year freshmen. Human brain is most complex structure in universe and last major organ system to be understood. Our brains give us power to see and hear, learn and remember, interpret others, and act purposefully in our environment. We can lose these abilities that we take for granted, naturally over time or as result of injury or disease. Brain function from historical, biological, psychological, and philosophical perspectives to enable students to better understand organ responsible for all mental processes and behavior in health and disease and to encourage them to think and write critically about interaction of neurobiological, philosophical, and psychological factors that control behavior and our experiences as human beings. Use of historical perspective to better understand how field of neuroscience and study of brain have emerged over time. Letter grading.

Units: 6.0
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Overall Rating 4.0
Easiness 4.0/ 5
Clarity 4.0/ 5
Workload 4.0/ 5
Helpfulness 4.0/ 5
Overall Rating 3.4
Easiness 2.5/ 5
Clarity 3.4/ 5
Workload 2.4/ 5
Helpfulness 3.7/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Winter 2017 - Okay, here's the deal. I think the reviews of this class are polarizing because it mashes up two opposite sides of the academic spectrum: humanities (history, philosophy, literature) and science (neuroscience, psychology [which could swing humanities], and neuroanatomy). Some of the basic neuroscience concepts swing nearly on the side of chemistry-type ideas. It's interdisciplinary and if you find yourself skilled on one end of the spectrum and are not willing to stretch out of your comfort zone and work hard to learn the concepts on the other end, don't take this class. I began this class fully expecting it to AP Psychology 2.0, and in some cases it was (if you took AP Psych, you're set for quite a bit of the neuroanatomy and psychology), but in many cases it is not. I find myself pretty well-rounded in that while I lean more humanities, I can switch to the more science-based concepts with a bit of work. Learning the neuroscience is a steep learning curve, even for those in science majors. However, if you go to your TA's office hours, the professors' office hours, and make sure to ask questions, you WILL get it. This class takes effort and I think very few would say its an easy A, but it is 100% worth taking. It was the best experience of my life and I learned so much. I think the first quarter is much harder than the second quarter because by the second quarter you can apply the knowledge from the first quarter to real concepts like movement and mental illness, which I found incredibly interesting. The seminar was also good, just be sure to choose a topic you really like. Fall and winter quarters have a midterm and final (multiple choice/short answer style), weekly quizzes, a final paper, and a midterm/shorter paper. It's all doable. The tests can be challenging, but if you do the weekly study questions they are very manageable. If you don't put in the effort, you will be miserable and get a poor grade. This isn't a class you can just skate by in, not study, and not do the readings. However, it is a class that will enrich your freshman year and put you in a great place for your subsequent studies at UCLA.
Overall Rating N/A
Easiness N/A/ 5
Clarity N/A/ 5
Workload N/A/ 5
Helpfulness N/A/ 5
Overall Rating 3.4
Easiness 3.3/ 5
Clarity 3.9/ 5
Workload 3.1/ 5
Helpfulness 3.6/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Fall 2022 - Professor Knowlton is an engaging lecturer and kind teacher who presents the neuroscience/psychology segment of this cluster. Her material is very interesting but obviously more appealing and foundational to STEM majors. In this cluster, she taught about neurons, synaptic connections, neurotransmitters, psychology of learning, and clinical conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, MS, and Lewy-Body Dementia. In Fall quarter, she taught for about 4 weeks and her material comprised a large part of the midterm. Her exam questions are very detail-oriented, so study her material by grasping the content and memorizing the slide content. Overall, her material, although somewhat basic in the field, provides a good foundation and is especially good to know in a class about the activities of the brain. Now, a comprehensive review for this cluster. This cluster is referred to as a bridge cluster, because it bridges the gap between north (humanities) and south (STEM) campus. The material covered all relates to the central idea of our brain and how it works. However, it takes a very interdisciplinary approach to this learning, with sections on neuroscience, philosophy, and literature during the fall quarter. In terms of GE's, you receive 1 life science without lab, 1 literary analysis, 1 social analysis, and 1 philosophical analysis (along with Writing 2, given by all clusters). This means that even if you are a life science/STEM major, taking this class can still be worth taking, but you have to stick it out through the whole year. Another thing to remember is that clusters count for 6 units, which can be both a blessing or a curse. You don't have to worry about enrolling in your cluster for winter/spring, because your spot is automatically saved. This means you can prioritize the classes you need for your major without worrying about this course. However, 6 units is a lot, and can prevent you from enrolling in classes you want due to the unit cap. But there are a lot of other nice benefits to taking a cluster (not just this one but clusters in general). They give priority enrollment for writing 1 courses and are a necessary requirement for the college scholars honor program. If you're willing to stick it out for a whole year then I would highly recommend taking a cluster due to the amount of requirements you can knock out. If you're interested in the way we think and how our brain develops and responds to our conditions, then I would highly recommend taking this cluster, no matter your major.
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