Professor Thad A. Polk, Ph.D.

Professor Thad A. Polk
  • University of Michigan
  • Carnegie Mellon University
Every aspect of our mental life is controlled by the brain. So if we ever hope to understand the human mind, and how it's affected by aging, by disease, and by drugs, then we need to develop a better understanding of the brain and the neural mechanisms that underlie cognition.

Professor Thad A. Polk is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He received a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Virginia and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Computer Science and Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. He also received postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Polk’s research combines functional imaging of the human brain with computational modeling and behavioral methods to investigate the neural architecture underlying cognition. Some of his major projects have investigated differences in the brains of smokers who quit compared with those who do not, changes in the brain as we age, and contributions of nature versus nurture to neural organization. Professor Polk regularly collaborates with scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas and at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where he is a frequent visiting scientist.

Professor Polk regularly teaches on topics ranging from the human mind and brain, to cognitive psychology, to computational modeling of cognition. His teaching at the University of Michigan has been recognized by numerous awards, and he was named to The Princeton Review’s list of the Best 300 Professors in the United States.

Testimonials
"Professor Polk is a very good teacher. He is extremely methodical in presenting the case he is trying to make, backing it up with fascinating research from many diversified fields. His presentation is clear and focused."

20 Courses and Sets

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20 Courses and Sets

  1. The Aging Brain

    The Aging Brain

    Thad A. Polk
    4.6 out of 5
    89% of reviewers would recommend this product
    (142)
    Starting at $89.95 Starting at $89.95 $199.95 $89.95$199.95
    Delve into the latest neuroscientific research with 12 fascinating lectures that give you a deep understanding of what happens to the brain over time. Cutting-edge science comes to life as you go down to the cellular level of the brain to discover why certain brain functions decline—and which functions stay stable or even improve—and learn what you can do to prolong your health and keep your mind sharp.
  2. The Addictive Brain

    The Addictive Brain

    Thad A. Polk
    4.9 out of 5
    94% of reviewers would recommend this product
    (76)
    Starting at $89.95 Starting at $89.95 $199.95 $89.95$199.95
    Addiction touches us all. By some estimates, 25% of Americans might be addicts. What happens when your brain is on drugs? Discover the neural mechanisms that underlie the behaviors of addiction, and see how drugs and activities like gambling can hijack the brain and lead to behavioral problems. Understanding addiction can motivate an addict to seek treatment, and can lead loved ones to see the addict in a new way.
  3. The Learning Brain Sale

    The Learning Brain

    Thad A. Polk
    4.6 out of 5
    88% of reviewers would recommend this product
    (18)
    Save up to $190.00 Starting at $34.95 $79.95 $34.95$79.95
    How does the human brain make memories, learn a language, solve problems, and retain the state capitals? Identify and differentiate between several, major kinds of memories and what control we have over retaining and recalling them. Whether you or someone you know needs better study habits, struggles with learning a new skill, or just worries about memories fading with age, get the tools you need with The Learning...
  4. (Set) The Learning Brain & How You Decide Set

    (Set) The Learning Brain & How You Decide

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $299.90 Starting at $299.90 $539.90 $299.90$539.90
    If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in that brain of yours, this two-course set is for you. Start by mastering scientifically-proven study techniques and become a more adept learner with The Learning Brain. Then, examine the research revealed via the scientific method to understand and explain human decision making in How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making.
  5. (Set) The Aging Brain & Understanding the Brain Set

    (Set) The Aging Brain & Understanding the Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $489.90 Starting at $489.90 $574.90 $489.90$574.90
    How much do you really understand about the organ which runs your entire body? In this two-course set, get introduced to your brain like never before. Begin by considering both the negative and the positive changes your brain may endure as you get older with The Aging Brain. Then, examine how your brain works from molecular level in Understanding the Brain
  6. (Set) The Addictive Brain & Your Best Brain Set on sale

    (Set) The Addictive Brain & Your Best Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Save up to $381.00 Starting at $37.90 $88.90 $37.90$88.90
    Get a handle on neuroscience with this set. First, in The Addictive Brain, examine the epidemic of addiction—both physiological and psychological. Then, survey all areas of neuroscience with Your Best Brain.
  7. (Set) The Learning Brain & The Addictive Brain Set

    (Set) The Learning Brain & The Addictive Brain

    Thad A. Polk
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Delve deeply into how your brain works with this two-course set taught by a professor of psychology. In The Learning Brain, Professor Thad Polk breaks down how your brain obtains, processes, and retains new information. With The Addictive Brain, he provides real insight into the biology and psychology of addiction and how it affects your brain.
  8. (Set) The Aging Brain & Your Best Brain Set

    (Set) The Aging Brain & Your Best Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Discover the inner workings of your own mind with this two-course set focusing on the latest neuroscience research. Examine how your brain changes as you get older with The Aging Brain and understand how memory, senses, emotions, and creative thinking happen in Your Best Brain.
  9. (Set) The Addictive Brain & The Science of Mindfulness Set

    (Set) The Addictive Brain & The Science of Mindfulness

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Calm your mind with this set. First, in The Addictive Brain, examine the epidemic of addiction—both physiological and psychological. Then, study the neuroscience behind ancient wisdom practices in The Science of Mindfulness.
  10. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Addictive Brain Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Addictive Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Dive deep into the innermost workings of your brain with this illuminating two-course set. Start by exploring common misinformation about the human mind with Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience. Then, understand how and why we develop addictions and what part the brain plays in this phenomenon with The Addictive Brain.
  11. (Set) The Addictive Brain & Stress and Your Body Set

    (Set) The Addictive Brain & Stress and Your Body

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $219.90 Starting at $219.90 $454.90 $219.90$454.90
    Understand the troubled mind with this set. First, in The Addictive Brain, examine the epidemic of addiction—both physiological and psychological. Then, see how stress effects both your mind and your body with Stress and Your Body.
  12. (Set) The Learning Brain & Outsmart Yourself Set

    (Set) The Learning Brain & Outsmart Yourself

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $299.90 Starting at $299.90 $539.90 $299.90$539.90
    Dive into the marvelous complexity of your own brain with this insightful two-course set. Start by mastering scientifically-proven techniques to learn and remember more effectively with The Learning Brain. Then, use insights from neuroscience to “hack” the human brain with practical, evidence-based strategies for living a better life with Outsmart Yourself: Brain-based Strategies for a Better You.
  13. (Set) The Aging Brain & How to Stay Fit as You Age Set

    (Set) The Aging Brain & How to Stay Fit as You Age

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $369.90 Starting at $369.90 $419.90 $369.90$419.90
    Getting older is inevitable and this two-course set helps us understand how our minds and bodies age. The Aging Brain looks at the changes that affect our thinking processes, while How to Stay Fit as You Age provides a toolbox of tips to staying vibrant and healthy as you get older.
  14. (Set) The Addictive Brain & Understanding the Brain Set

    (Set) The Addictive Brain & Understanding the Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $489.90 Starting at $489.90 $574.90 $489.90$574.90
    Get to know your brain with this set. First, in The Addictive Brain, examine the epidemic of addiction—both physiological and psychological. Then, get a comprehensive guide to neuroscience with Understanding the Brain.
  15. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Aging Brain Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Aging Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Probe the fascinating world of your brain with this two-course set. Start by getting the truth about common misperceptions regarding memory, dreams, and more in Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience. Then, discover what happens to your mind as you get older with The Aging Brain.