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Where is my mind?  - visual psychology 101

Where is my mind? - visual psychology 101

So, what’s up with the blob of jelly inside our skulls? How does it work, and why does it make us do what we do? Answering these questions is the domain of psychology. There are plenty of introductions to psychology out there, but there’s a new one from a top Yale professor that delivers the ideas in a memorable way.

Paul Bloom is Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University. Knowing so much about the mind must have helped him choose his delivery system for this course: animated video. Maybe it’s due to the supposedly shrinking attention spans of the digital natives he teaches, but watching animated people play out the theories greatly helps with memory retention. This course is itself an interesting psychology experiment around learning and memory – how meta is that? Here’s an example of Prof. Bloom’s visual teaching style.

Professor Bloom and his animated characters walk you through the human mind and how it works in a series of visual tableaux that greatly help to embed the concepts in the learner’s memory. The course kicks off with Foundations: some brain anatomy, how neurons work and other groundwork. After this Prof Bloom addresses Development and Language before moving on to Cognition, a hot area in science and engineering as well as psychology due to applications like machine vision. The final 3 units cover Self and Others including the Psychology of Groups, Variation in personality and intelligence, and finally The Good Life, which is all about how psychologists measure happiness and what factors contribute to living a good life. Students can take an optional happpiness survey at the start of the course, and compare it with what they have learned as the course concludes.

The course includes a lot of up-to-date information, including the latest discoveries about genes and the environment, current theories of mental illnesses, aspects of child development and why cultures can be so irrational.

Available on Coursera, enrollments are now open.