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6-week course

All Pods / Neuroscience

Neuroscience and emotions: how are internal states generated and shaped?

This Pod will meet once per week for 6 weeks, starting on June 9, 2024 at 7:00pm EDT/4:00pm PDT, with the last session being Sunday July 14, 2024.

By enrolling you confirm this time works for you.

Date and time

Sunday, 7:00pm EDT/4:00pm PDT

Group size

1-6 students


We will wrap up our course with final presentations where students will present in teams their emotion of choice and its neurobiological underpinnings. In addition, students will also prepare, individually, throughout the course a paper on their emotion of choice and how specific neurotransmitter systems, neural circuits, and genetics play a role in shaping that emotion and how dysregulation of that emotion can cause clinical phenotypes.



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PhD in Neuroscience

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Neuroscience and emotions: how are internal states generated and shaped?

We all experience emotions on a daily basis, have you ever wondered how they come about? In this pod, we’ll explore the key aspects of how the brain generates and shapes emotions and how this is related to key concepts in mental health. In the process, we will cover the fundamentals of neuroscience and move on to the neurotransmitter systems, neural circuits, and genetics involved in generating and shaping emotions. We will then move on to discuss conditions where emotional regulation is disrupted, including anxiety and depression, and how they are currently treated.



PhD in Neuroscience

I'm Rahul. I completed my BA at Rutgers, The State University in New Brunswick, New Jersey studying Cell Biology and Neuroscience. Throughout my career, I have accumulated diverse basic science training, ranging from molecular to behavioral neuroscience, in academia and experience as a volunteer in clinical and teaching settings. Additionally, I recently completed a public education internship at the Society for Neuroscience where I was involved in an array of science outreach, writing, and advocacy activities. I then completed my PhD in Neuroscience at UNC-Chapel Hill. My thesis combined engineering, neuroscience, and machine learning. This interdisciplinary approach aimed to develop technologies to evaluate pain in animals in order to better inform the development of new, non-addictive pain medications. Outside of research and mentoring, I am very passionate about travel and food!

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Neuroscience and emotions: how are internal states generated and shaped?

Week by week curriculum

Week 1

Introduction to Neuroscience: We will cover the foundations of neuroscience needed for our subsequent lectures. We will discuss the different components of the nervous system, their building blocks, and how they integrate to carry out the varied functions of the nervous system. Learning outcomes: students will be able to identify components of the nervous system, neuroanatomical regions and their broad functions, glial and neuronal subtypes, and the mechanisms of neurotransmission (electrical and chemical synapses).

Week 2

Neurotransmitter systems involved in emotional processing: We will cover the various neurotransmitter systems involved in emotional processing. In our coverage, we will learn about the neurotransmitters of interest, their metabolic pathways, and receptors. Learning outcome: with this knowledge in place, we will have the foundation to understand psychopharmacology for the treatment of affective disorders.

Week 3

Neural circuits involved in emotions: We will cover specific brain circuits involved in generating and processing emotions. By examining the circuits, we will gain a deeper appreciation for how these circuits function under normal and pathological conditions. Learning outcome: by examining specific circuits, we will tie in our understanding of neurotransmitter systems to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how specific brain areas regulate and shape emotions.

Week 4

Genetics of emotions: We will cover genetic factors implicated in individual differences in emotion processing, gaining a deeper appreciation for nature vs. nurture in emotional regulation. In this section, we will cover mutations/variations in specific genes that are associated with differences in emotion generation and processing. Learning outcomes: by examining case-studies of genes associated in emotional processing we will be poised to understand why certain medications/therapeutic approaches may have differential effectiveness in treating mental health conditions.

Week 5

Clinical cases and treatment for emotional/affective disorders: Now that we have an understanding of how emotions are generated and processed by the brain, we will not turn our attention to specific clinical conditions where emotions are dysregulated and how we currently approach the treatment of mental health conditions. Learning outcomes: by discussing clinical conditions where emotional processing/regulation goes awry and how we currently are able to treat these conditions, we will be well-positioned for our final projects.

Week 6

Final presentations: In teams, students will present their emotion of choice and how it presents in health and disease along with the neurotransmitter, circuits, and genetic underpinnings of the emotion. As part of the presentation, students will field questions from their peers. We will also answer any remaining questions on the individual assignments so each student is well prepared to submit their final individual assignments.