Building a Brain

Universidad Pompeu Fabra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Building a Brain

  • Host University

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, Neuroscience

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    Our brain is the main source of our creativity and, in general, our ability to interact with the world. Major scientific efforts have been made in the last century to understand the mechanisms underlying its operation. These endeavours have revealed an astonishing degree of complexity, involving billions of specialized neurons communicating with each other through trillions of plastic connections. But is that level of complexity necessary for a brain to function?

    This course will explore the brain’s minimal requirements, building on both our knowledge of simple organisms such as bacteria and worms, and our age-old attempts to build artificial intelligence systems. We will review the history of artificial intelligence and neuroscience, focusing on the connections that the two fields have had, on and off, over the years. Following the classic maxim of Richard Feynman, “what I cannot create I do not understand”, we will work in teams to attempt to build the simplest possible brain out of interacting components.

    The course has no prerequisites, since the lectures will be accessible to students of all disciplines, including non-science students, and the practical work will be undertaken by multidisciplinary teams, in which students will support each other and cross-fertilize using their respective backgrounds. The goal is thus to bring together a healthy mix of students from sciences, engineering, and the humanities.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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