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From Sound to Synapse: Introduction to Auditory Neuroscience

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
June 30, 2014 - July 11, 20142M-F 3:50-6:40POpenAlyssa Wheeler10642

Course Description

The main objective of this course is to explore what sound is and how the brain interprets it with a special focus on the perception of music. We will relate the physical properties of sound to acoustic perception, and investigate how music elicits emotional responses.

The course content will answer several central questions that build on one another: How does sound perception relate to physical properties of sound? How does the ear transduce sound waves into electrical signals that are sent to the brain? What does the brain do with sound information, and how does music elicit emotions? What are the major differences between recorded and live music? Each question will be the focus of one module of the course. Answering this series of central questions will provide a strong foundation for future work in any scientific field because it will integrate physics, mathematics, mechanics, developmental neuroscience, evolutionary biology, psychology, biochemistry, and medicine. Assignments will require students to analyze sounds, design experiments, and interpret scientific literature. This interdisciplinary course is designed for advanced high school students with basic skills in physics and biology.

By the end of the course students will be able to:

1.Manipulate the four main perceptual properties of sound (location, pitch, timbre, loudness)

2.Trace the path of sound from its source to its destination (the brain)

3.Describe how the inner ear transduces sound waves into electrical impulses.

4.Elicit specific emotions using sound and/or music.

There are no prerequisites for this course; however, students should have basic understanding of high school biology and physics. An interest in music is highly recommended.