UH Hilo to offer new course on brain disorders

The course, to be offered in the spring, is ideal for students interested in careers in neuroscience, health, clinical and counseling psychology, education or law.

By Susan Enright.

Eric Heuer
Eric Heuer

A new course on brain disorders will be offered at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo this spring. The course was initially tested as an experimental course in the spring of 2012 and the upcoming course will be the first time it is formally offered.

“The motivation for developing this course was to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms of psychological disorders,” says Eric Heuer, assistant professor of psychology who will be teaching the class. “This course investigates brain changes and risk factors for developing these disorders.”

Heuer specializes in aging, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related alterations in cognitive function. He arrived at UH Hilo in the fall of 2011 and serves as chair of the neuroscience major committee. In addition to teaching and doing research at UH Hilo, he also is adjunct research faculty at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. He received his doctor of philosophy in neuroscience from Emory in 2010.

The new UH Hilo course on brain disorders is ideal for students who would like to continue on in the field of neuroscience, although many other applications exist including pre-health majors, clinical and counseling psychology majors and individuals who plan to obtain degrees in education and law. It is classified as writing intensive.

“This course is meant to provide students with an understanding that mental health is no different than physical health as it has clear and definable biological mechanisms,” explains Heuer. “Individuals suffering from the disorders or diseases discussed in this course are entitled to receive adequate and accessible treatment options.”

There is still a significant stigma attached to mental health disorders and Heuer hopes the course will mitigate some of that attitude through the direct education of students and their subsequent dissemination of the information. He says students may be surprised to learn that all psychological and neurological disorders have one common origin: a dysfunction of the brain.

The course

Brain Disease: Neurobiological mechanisms of central nervous system diseases and disorders.
Mondays and Wednesdays
5:00-6:15 p.m.
University Classroom Building Rm 245
PSY 431
3 credits
CRN 12913
Prerequisites: PSY 100, 213, 214 and either PSY 350 or 352.

For more information, contact Assistant Professor Heuer.


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.