|Dates||Departure from U.S.:||Sat., June 25, 2016|
|Arrival:||Sun., June 26, 2016|
|Mandatory Orientation:||Mon., June 27, 2016|
|First Day of Class:||Mon., June 27, 2016|
|Last Day of Class:||Fri., July 29, 2016|
|Departure for the U.S.
(or personal travel):
|Sat., July 30, 2016|
An Italian Perspective on Drugs and the Self-Regulation of Social Behavior will explore the relationship between drugs, the brain, mind, and culture, in this case US and Italian culture. We will examine how psychoactive drugs affect human social behavior, from phenomena as small and transient as chemical binding at brain receptors, and as broad and ongoing as drug use through history. You will learn about the bio-, psycho-, and sociological perspectives on drug use and addiction; how neurotransmitter systems mediate drug effects; the role of personal expectations, cultural context, and cognitive factors in drug influences; the role of science, business, politics, and media in the history of drug policy; and profiles on some of the most commonly used and abused drugs.
This will be accompanied by an exploration of the neural origins of human social behavior and the scientific revolution in our understanding sparked by the discovery of mirror neurons by scientists in Parma, Italy. We will examine the neuroanatomy, physiology, and functional correlates of the human mirror neuron system and its putative role in social cognition, e.g., action understanding, empathy, and theory of mind. We will explore the implications of mirroring mechanisms and embodied simulation for empathetic responses to works of visual art. Together, students should gain a broad understanding of cultural perspectives on drugs, their use, and the effect they have on the mechanisms of self-regulation of social behaviors, including esthetic experiences.
Students should have a broad interest in the psychopharmacological and cognitive science perspectives on drugs, brain, and culture, as well as interest in the neural basis of their effects, particularly on social behaviors. These courses are taught so they do not require specific prerequisites, but students are encouraged to have prior exposure to cognitive science, neurobiology, or neuroscience.
Dr. Pineda is Professor of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at UCSD. His research includes the neuroetiology of autism, the role of mirror neurons in social cognition, neuronal plasticity, and brain-computer interfaces. He is the author of over 100 articles, books, and reviews on the interdependency between brain and mind. In his research, Dr. Pineda uses brain imaging techniques, as well as behavioral, psychological and pharmacological methods to understand normal and abnormal cognition. He looks forwarding to sharing this Italian adventure with students.