How to Build a Healthy Human Brain (SIGNATURE COURSE)

Course Code
PSYC 3559
Jessica Connelly and
James Morris

This class relies heavily on discussion groups and will meet synchronously throughout the term.

The social, mental, and physical well-being of humans is dependent upon slow maturation of a number of critical biological systems over the course of the lifespan. Biological and environmental influences on the maturation of these systems are vast and varied. Though unique, contributions of developmental environment and biological predisposition are often considered as independent predictors but modern science has demonstrated time and again that the two are richly intertwined. This Signature J-Term survey course examines how early life experience shapes the function of our genome, impacts the development of brain systems involved in the complexities of human life, and sets the stage for our abilities to forge new social bonds that promote healthy lives and rewarding personal experiences. Through lectures from thought experts across several fields of science, we will discuss how modern society has introduced many challenges to these developmental experiences including social, environmental and educational inequality, which are a direct threat to these natural human processes. The Professors Connelly and Morris are UVA Psychology professors and experts in the field of translational neuroscience. Both have served as College Fellows, working with many of the best thought leaders and course design experts on grounds. With extensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities of educating first year scholars, we present a course opportunity for all who wish to better understand how to build a healthy human.