Literature and film help teach students to understand the brain

Published: August 25, 2016

What can Shakespeare, Cervantes, Proust, and even contemporary playwrights and filmmakers contribute to the study of neuroscience?

A lot, says UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology Scott Chandler.

“When we are talking about the brain, we are talking about our essence,” Chandler said.

For the last four years, Chandler has been teaching and coordinating the pedagogy for the freshman cluster course titled “Mind Over Matter: The History, Science and Philosophy of the Brain.” He designed the course to incorporate medical history and philosophy alongside sections in cognitive psychology and in-depth instruction on neuroscience.

This year “Mind Over Matter” expanded to incorporate literature and film sections that Chandler said have provided valuable context to understand the brain as the home of the human psyche.

This can be a daunting proposition for students and professors alike, he said, but it’s worth tackling.

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