Neuroscience and Computation

Module code: NS1015

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sarah Gretton

Module Outline

The Neuroscience and Computation course brings together the topics of neuroanatomy and computational complexity allowing students to compare biological and electronic computational systems.

The first section of this course introduces you to neuroanatomy. You will also be introduced to the cell types present in the peripheral and central nervous system and how these are organised to produce an integrated nervous system. You will learn how the brain forms during development and the major structures that are present in the adult central nervous system.

In the second section of the course is primarily concerned with what computers can do efficiently. This topic is called computational complexity and is concerned with the resources (such as the length of time or the amount of space) needed to solve a problem. Even if a problem is solvable, it is clearly pointless trying to write a program to solve it if the quickest method would still take longer than the lifetime of the Universe to run. You will investigate which problems can be solved in a “reasonable” amount of time.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduction to Nerve Cells
  • Nerve Classification
  • Action Potentials
  • The Development of the Nervous System
  • The Organisation of the Nervous System
  • The Blood Supply to the Brain
  • How is Movement Controlled?
  • Diseases and Injuries to the Nervous System
  • Diagnostic Tests and Imaging Techniques
  • Brain Scans
  • Algorithms
  • Automata
  • Non-Deterministic Automata
  • Efficiency
  • Non-Deterministic Complexity
  • NP-Complete Problems

Assessment Methods

  • Group Planning documentation
  • Short Answer exercise sets
  • Report 
  • Written Assignment
  • Oral Presentation
  • Examination