Brains and treason and bouncy balls, oh my! by Keri G. '10
A brain dump largely about - what else? - brains.
Nearly two weeks ago, I promised you a Post of Substance™ to be put up “no later than this Friday.” Two and a half Fridays later (or something like that), you’re getting this instead. Yeah, I know – horrors, treason, hang her at dawn, all that. Let’s just blame it on the weird dreams from way back in February, which are back with a vengeance (although these aren’t quite on the same order as Matt’s). This time around, I was being eaten by second-order ordinary differential equations instead of first-order ones. Woo! A sign of improvement!
Anyway, here. Have something that wants to be substance one day when it grows up.
It’s April (when did that happen?!), so we frosh can finally declare a major. I completely forgot about this until Kel ’10 walked up to me after our 18.03 recitation on Thursday and said, “I am officially Course 16!” The next day, Dorota ’10 said the same about Course 8, Physics. As for me, I’ve been pretty set on what my major for a while now (in fact, I specifically applied to four colleges that had some variation of a Neuropsychology major). Even so, the last month had me mentally flipping between Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Chemistry before returning to the former, or Course 9. (More about what I’m doing with Chemistry will come over the next few years, as you all play witness a little game called “Watch Keri find out just how this double major thing really works – THE HARD WAY!”) Last week’s Department Open House was great – freshmen interested in the field got to talk with undergrads and grad students doing research, and we even went on tours of some labs. As I’m a nerd for everything neuroscience, can you understand why I’m really excited for the next three years?
Speaking of neuroscience, I bought yet another book on brains Saturday evening when Kel, Dorota, Thom ’10, and I went out to eat at Trident on Newbury Street: The Naked Brain, by Dr. Richard Restak. (Fun fact: the first person mentioned in the acknowledgments is 9.00 instructor John Gabrieli.) The book scratches the surface of some really interesting topics involving the relationship between neuroscience and human interactions with both the environment and each other (he calls it “social neuroscience,” mostly for the sake of simplicity), although it never goes into detailed discussions of any one thing. If you happen to be looking for an overview of a million different psychological and neurological studies at once, though, it’s a good read.
It also contains some particularly interesting bits of information:
-For one, physicist Michael Faraday just doesn’t seem to want to leave me alone outside of 8.02, since he played around with psychology, too. He used to attend table-turning sessions where people would gather around a table, rest their hands on it, and after a few minutes, the table would start swaying from side to side. At the time, most people attributed the motion to supernatural entities; after placing force measurement meters between people’s hands and the table, Faraday found that they’d been moving the table without ever being consciously aware of doing so.
-There’s a whole section on unconscious prejudices and implicit decisions, which at one point referred to an ongoing Harvard study found at this website. I know, I know, Harvard isn’t MIT. That doesn’t make the tests and research there any less cool.
I’ve been writing this from A-Control in WMBR and having to pause every four minutes or so to pay attention to what it is we’re doing grows old quickly, so that’s enough of a brain dump for now. I’ll see a good number of you at CPW, whether it’s at the registration desk on Thursday, the Meet the Bloggers party Friday night, the annual Senior Haus Bouncy Ball Drop an hour beforehand (featuring seven thousand neon plastic balls being thrown off the balcony and into the courtyard) or just while running around some random part of campus. Enjoy your four days of doing everything everything everything and more everything and pretending sleep does not exist. In the meantime, I’ll be fending off the REM-induced advances of a million alkyl halides out for my head.