9.00SC | Fall 2011 | Undergraduate
Introduction to Psychology
Instructor Insights

Maintaining Currency in a Rapidly Evolving Field

In This Section

Prof. Gabrieli discusses how he keeps his course current, from the latest controversies played out in the media to breakthrough discoveries in brain research.

Cutting-edge Curriculum

There’s a huge emphasis on the brain revolution in the course. Neuroscience used to be primarily about animals, but all of a sudden, in the last decade, it’s been brought to humans with brain imaging. We can understand a lot of the brain basis for almost every aspect of human abilities, performances, desires, and decisions. It’s all about people now and we can communicate that in terms of recent discoveries.

I try to spotlight recent discoveries in the course. Even the most up-to-date textbook is always 5-10 years behind in terms of the most exciting breakthroughs. At MIT, we’re in a very good place to be abreast of recent breakthroughs and to share them. Each year there are new examples added to the course that reflect the most up-to-date discoveries about how the human brain functions and how this relates to human psychology.

Lessons from the Headlines

"I feel it’s a privilege to introduce people to the great science that’s out there on psychology and neuroscience and to try to get them excited about it."
— Prof. Gabrieli

One of the joys of teaching this course is that practically every science article I read, every newspaper article I encounter, and every radio or television piece I come across is about something in neuroscience or something in psychology. There is a constant flood of information. There are new discoveries, new things in journals, and new controversies that I can add to the course to make it timely and current, and to add new insights.

It’s very fun because there is hardly a moment I’m awake where I’m not thinking about whether or not one of my experiences, such as a certain discovery I learn about at a conference, ought to be added to the course. I feel it’s a privilege to introduce people to the great science that’s out there in the fields of psychology and neuroscience and to try to get them excited about it. The problem becomes one of what content to remove from the course as I add new information.

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Fall 2011
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