9.13 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

The Human Brain



Lecture 1: Introduction

Prof. Kanwisher tells a true story to introduce the course. The why, how, and what of studying the human brain. Course overview.


Lecture 2: Neuroanatomy

Basic brief neuroanatomy review in preperation for dissection on Wednesday. Introduction to the cortex. Primary regions, topographic maps–what counts as a cortical area? Visual motion area MT as an example.

Lecture 3: Master Class: Human Brain Dissection with Guest Lecturer Ann Graybiel

video not recorded

Assignment 1 due


Lecture 4: Cognitive Neuroscience Methods I

What would an understanding of the brain, and how it implements the mind, look like? Marr’s levels of analysis applied to color vision. Introduction to methods in cognitive neuroscience including computation, behavior, fMRI, ERPs & MEG, neuropsychology patients, TMS, and intracranial recordings in humans and nonhuman primates. Methods illustrated with visual perception of color, motion, shape, and faces. In-class color demo.

Lecture 5: Cognitive Neuroscience Methods II

Methods in cognitive neuroscience continued.

Assignment 2 due

Quiz at end of class


Lecture 6: Experimental Design

Class breaks into groups to work out details of experiments proposed in assignment.

Assignment 3 Due

Lecture 7: Category Selectivity, Controversies, and Multiple Voxel Pattern Analysis (MVPA)

Controversies and alternative views of the ventral visual pathway. Multiple voxel pattern analysis. The two visual pathways and what is represented in each.

Quiz at end of class


How do you know where you are, or how to get from here to there? Cognitive neuroscience has revealed the functional organization of scene perception and navigation and the various brain structures that implement them.

Lecture 8: Navigation I

Assignment 4 due

Lecture 9: Navigation II

Quiz at end of class


How does the intricate organization of the cortex get wired up in the brain over infancy and childhood? What are the roles of genes and experience? Can cortical organization change in adulthood? Recent work in developmental cognitive neuroscience has started to answer some of these fundamental questions.

Lecture 10: Development, Nature & Nurture I

Assignment 5 due

Lecture 11: Development, Nature & Nurture II

class canceled; students watched lecture from 2018

Quiz at end of class


Lecture 12: Brain-Machine Interface with Guest Lecturer Michael Cohen

video unavailable

Assignment 6 due



Lecture 13: Number

Even infants, spiders, and frogs can count. What is the nature of the human representation of number, and how is it implemented in the brain?

Assignment 7 due

Lecture 14: New Methods Applied to Number

video not recorded

Review and student breakout groups.

The mental abilities listed in the lectures above are shared with animals whereas those in the lectures below are mostly not.


Lecture 15: Hearing and Speech

Humans use hearing in species-specific ways, for speech and music. Ongoing research is just now working out the functional organization of these and other human auditory skills.

Assignment 8 due

Lecture 16: Music

Quiz at end of class


Lecture 17: MEG Decoding and RSA

video not recorded


Lecture 18: Language I

Language is our signature human cognitive skill. Cognitive neuroscience has only recently started to understand its basic organization in the brain and to answer the long-standing question of the relationship between thought and language.

Quiz at end of class

Lecture 19: Language II

class canceled, video not recorded


Lecture 20: Mentalizing and Theory of Mind

From an early age, humans spend much of their time thinking about what other people are thinking. Astonishingly, this ability is implemented in brain regions highly specialized for this function alone. What exactly is represented here?

Quiz at end of class

Lecture 21: Brain Networks

Quiz at end of class

Experimental Design Project due

Design an experiment using any of the methods of human cognitive neuroscience to address the brain basis of intuitive physics.


Lecture 22: Experimental Design

video not recorded

Class breaks into groups to discuss and share details about their experiment proposals.

Lecture 23: Deep Networks

updated 2021 video

Deep learning and human cognition.


Lecture 24: Attention and Awareness

What is the difference in the mind and brain between perceptual information we are aware of versus information we are not? How much information is processed when we are asleep? Anesthetized? In a coma?

Quiz at end of class

Lecture 25: Recap of Course and Final Review

video not recorded


Final takes place during exam week.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Written Assignments
Lecture Notes
Instructor Insights