What Professor Higgins is teaching

HNRS 195i Fall 2015

Searching for the mind: From humans to robots

This course is an honors seminar for first-semester undergraduate honors students.
We will start by debating the assumption that humans are simply biochemical machines. Do humans truly have "free will", and what does it mean if they do not? What is "the mind", and how do you know if it exists? What inherent rights do humans have, and why? If machines were "intelligent", would they have these rights, too? How would you design a machine that thinks it has a "mind" and "free will"? In this seminar, we will connect the latest research in neuroscience with ideas about the mind from psychology and cognitive science, using examples such as depression and neuro-degenerative diseases. We will further connect these ideas to research in robotics, prosthetics, and artificial intelligence. We will discuss the meaning of scientific inquiry. We will tour relevant scientific labs, and make connections between individual students and future lab research experiences. We will discuss how to read scientific papers, and each student will write their own guided scientific paper.

NSCS 315B Fall 2015

Methods in Neuroscience

This half-semester course is technically a computer lab, but actually we spend most of our time in long discussions. And it's over in 7 weeks; how can you argue with that? Here's the syllabus in case you're interested.

NROS 215/415 Spring 2015

Electrophysiology Laboratory

Now combined into a single co-convened section, this course gives undergraduates from freshmen to seniors a strong background in electrophysiology using insects, and even humans! It was taught for the first time in 2012, and has been an amazing laboratory experience. For all the details, including pictures and videos, check out nros415.com.

HNRS 195i Fall 2014

Unlocking the mysteries of sleep

This course is an honors seminar for first-semester undergraduate honors students.
In this seminar we will explore what is known about sleep and delve into the many unknowns. Virtually every psychiatric disorder is strongly correlated with disturbances of sleep. Is disordered sleep the cause of these psychiatric disorders, or the effect? Is it possible to diagnose psychiatric disorders by looking at patterns of sleep over the long-term? Is it possible to objectively measure the effectiveness of psychoactive medications by looking at sleep instead of just asking a patient subjective questions? Could a measure of the quality of sleep lead to a metric of general health?