It ought to be generally known that the source of our pleasure, merriment, laughter and amusement, as of our grief, pain, anxiety and tears, is none other than the brain.   - HippocratesBrain image

On this course we will delve into the inner workings of your brain: what it is, how it functions, how it is affected by what we do, and what can happen when something goes wrong. Even a basic understanding of the brain can affect the way we live our lives and view the world. This course aims to give you an insight into the brain’s intricacies in a way that is accessible, interesting, and relatable to all. 

The course will be taught in an interactive manner. In addition to tutor input, you will get the opportunity to discuss your own ideas and experiences with a variety of people, learn from each other, and take part in tasks and games that will build your understanding of each topic.

We will start with a journey from man’s early understanding of the brain into the modern day, addressing some of the most pertinent questions in human culture along way.  We will aim to build an understanding of what the brain is and how it works before covering a range of specialist topics across neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry.

Subject to sufficient demand, two parallel classes with identical course content will run, one on Tuesdays and one on Wednesdays (please see programme timetable).

A 20-week programme is set out below. This is subject to change as you will have the opportunity to suggest and request specific topics.

Proposed course syllabus
WeekTopic
1 Overview of the course
Neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry: What’s the difference?
2 The ancient view of the brain
3 The mystery of the nerve impulse and chemicals in the brain
4 Localising function and the senses
5 What’s in there? Mapping the cerebral cortex and brain imaging
6 Brain networks: Is it like a computer?
7 Mind vs Brain: Consciousness
8 Mental illness and the brain
9 Child to adult: Development of the brain
  *** Christmas break ***
10 Learning, intelligence and getting good at stuff
11 Language and the brain
12 Do you have a “good memory”?
13 Dementia and neurodegenerative disorders
14 Anxiety and performing under pressure
15 Brain surgery and brain injury: Case studies you won’t believe
16 The brain around the world: Cultural views of the brain
17 The brain on the couch – psychological therapies and the brain
18 Bad brain science and neuroethics
19 My heroes of the brain
20 The existential brain, mindfulness, yoga and meditation
Brain course syllabus

Subject to sufficient demand, two parallel, identical classes will run taught by different tutors but coverning the same material. The tutors are Dr Aida Farreny (Tuesday class) and Dr Angela Richards (Wednesday class). Applicants are asked to commit to one specific class.

About the tutors

Dr Aida Farreny moved from Barcelona to London in 2016. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Barcelona and trained as a clinical psychologist at the University of Deusto.  She has extensive experience working with people suffering mental illnesses, brain injury, and dementia. Dr Farreny has been especially interested in the study of psychosis, in particular schizophrenia, dedicating her career to understand this disorder and to develop new treatment approaches involving psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience.

Dr Angela Richards holds an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience and is a chartered Counselling Psychologist. Her clinical work is in the area of mental health and her research interests are in ageing, cultural neuroscience, sensitivity of psychological services, and more recently in the use of virtual and augmented reality tools for improving mental health. She is the founder of a London project that works with people affected by dementia and their carers.

Imperial College undergraduates and postgraduates may, if they wish, acquire 2 ECTS credits after successfully completing their Evening Class. To qualify, a student must attend the classes regularly and pass a test at the end of the second term. Students will be invited to apply in the second term to take the test.

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to either of the two tutors at a.farreny@qmul.ac.uk (Dr Aida Farreny) or interestneuro@gmail.com (Dr Angela Richards).