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ECEN 4831 - Brains, Minds, & Computers

Catalog Data ECEN 4831 (3). Brains, Minds, & Computers. Provides background for the design of artificially intelligent systems based upon our present knowledge of the human brain. Includes similarities and differences between the brain and computers, robots, and common computer models of brain and mind. Emphasizes the neuron as an information processor, and organization of natural as well as synthetic neural networks.
(Meets with ECEN 5831.)
Credits and Design 3 credit hours. Selected elective course.
Prerequisite(s) ECEN 2260, Circuits as Systems, or ECEN 3030, Circuits for Non-Majors
Corequisite(s) None.
Instructor(s) Howard Wachtel.
Textbook Eric R. Kandel, James H. Schwartz, and Thomas M. Jessel, Principles of Neural Science, 4th Edition, McGraw Hill, 2000, ISBN-13 978-0-8385-7701-1, plus journal articles and reprints on reserve in the Math/Engineering library.
Course Objectives For students to:
  1. Understand the human nervous system.
  2. Appreciate the similarities and differences between the human nervous system and computers.
  3. Understand how to write research and development proposals in the area of neural and biomedical engineering.
Learning Outcomes After taking this course students will be able to recognize and use the following concepts, ideas, and/or tools:
  1. How the brain works, from a bioelectrical and a computer point of view.
  2. Brain simulation using computers to better understand brain function.
  3. Artificial neural networks, using biophysical principles of neural signal processing.
  4. Information and sensory input comparison in brains and computers.
Student Outcomes
3a 3b 3c 3d 3e 3f 3g1 3g2 3h 3i 3j 3k
Design Teams Engr
Oral Written Engr Solns
M   L   M       M L    
Topics Covered
  1. Course intro -- Intersections of brains, minds & computers
  2. Functional anatomy of the brain and of nerve cells
  3. The language of neurons and neuronal signaling
  4. Neuronal basis of behavioral responses
  5. The "nanotechnology" of nerve cell membranes
  6. Ionic channels and liquid state ionics
  7. Biophysical basis of neural membrane potentials
  8. Passive signaling in neurons-cable properties
  9. Neural signaling via action potentials
  10. Synaptic transmission of neural information
  11. Modeling the brain: Simplified vs. realistic models
  12. Modeling voltage-activated channels: Hodgkin-Huxley model
  13. Modeling synapses and other ionic conductances
  14. Biologically realistic neural network models
  15. Recording and processing neural signals from human brains
  16. The electroencephalogram and the magnetoencephalogram
  17. Metabolic signals from the brain-basis of the FMRI
  18. Brain - computer interfaces in treating brain malfunctions
  19. Neurotransmitter release and neural "plasticity"
  20. Biophysics of learning and memory
  21. Cellular memories are made of what?
  22. Sensory reception and perception
  23. Optics of the eye and retinal image processing
  24. Visual image perception in the brain
  25. Sensory transduction in the ear
  26. The artificial cochlea and other neural prostheses

Last revised: 05-20-11, PM, ARP.