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Professor Thad Polk, Ph.D.

Professor Thad 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."

10 Courses and Sets

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10 Courses and Sets

  1. The Aging Brain

    The Aging Brain

    Thad Polk
    4.6 out of 5
    89% of reviewers would recommend this series
    (95)
    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 Polk
    4.9 out of 5
    95% of reviewers would recommend this series
    (64)
    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. (Set) The Addictive Brain & Your Best Brain Set

    (Set) The Addictive Brain & Your Best Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    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.
  4. (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.
  5. (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.
  6. (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.
  7. (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.
  8. (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.
  9. (Set) The Addictive Brain & Practicing Mindfulness Set

    (Set) The Addictive Brain & Practicing Mindfulness

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $219.90 Starting at $219.90 $454.90 $219.90$454.90
    Control your impulses with this set. First, in The Addictive Brain, examine the epidemic of addiction—both physiological and psychological. Then, learn the ancient practices of mindfulness and how they can help you live a better life.
  10. (Set) The Aging Brain & The Addictive Brain Set

    (Set) The Aging Brain & The Addictive Brain

    Thad Polk
    Starting at $179.90 Starting at $179.90 $399.90 $179.90$399.90
    Probe the fascinating world of your brain with this two-course set by Professor Thad A. Polk. Start by looking at the potential changes-both good and bad - that may affect your brain as you get older in The Aging Brain. Then, learn how the brain processes an addictive substance and what factors can escalate an addiction with The Addictive Brain.
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