Electrical Engineering and the Nervous System

This course introduces students to how nervous systems, machines, and software programs collect, process, store and use information to perform tasks. The class uses inquiry-based activities to discover how the nervous system uses information and engineering challenges to understand how circuits, machines, and software perform analogous tasks.

Students conduct investigations to ask questions such as:

  • How do neurons transmit and receive electrical signals?
  • How can neuronal circuits generate patterns of activity that control behavior?
  • How does the visual system turn light hitting the retina into information about objects in the world?
  • How are new behaviors acquired through reinforcement learning?

Similarly students design and build circuits, machines, and software to compare and contrast how engineered and nervous systems process information. Students investigate engineering questions such as:

  • How do electronic circuits transmit, store, and process information?
  • How can simple circuits produce interesting behavior in robots?
  • How does computer vision use statistics to process information?
  • How do artificial intelligence algorithms optimize performance through reinforcement learning?

The Ti2 team engages area research institutions and industries to help students understand how people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to topics covered in this course. Site visit and visiting specialists!

Learning entry points include the use of storytelling, fiction and non-fiction literature and art.