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MIT student blogger Jessie L. '07

Term time again by Jessie L. '07

There are two or three backlogged entries that I want/need to write. Unfortunately, with term starting up again, I’ve been preoccupied with classes. I’m doing a bad job at this regular updating thing. I promise that within the next few days, I will have another entry up. With photographs. I even know what it’s going to be about.

Meanwhile, since I’m being hosed by my classes, and some of you are probably curious about the classes offered at MIT, I’ll dedicate this entry to describing them. I’ve italicized the descrptions in the course catalogue, with my own impressions underneath.

7.05 (Biochemistry)
Contributions of biochemistry toward an understanding of the structure and functioning of organisms, tissues, and cells. Chemistry and functions of constituents of cells and tissues and the chemical and physical-chemical basis for the structures of nucleic acids, proteins, and carbohydrates. General metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and nitrogen-containing materials such as amino acids, proteins, and related compounds.

Takes chemistry, a subject I’m poor at, and applies it to biology, a subject I’m good at. We’ll see how that turns out. The application part ought to make it easier to relate to the material. I’d rather learn about proteins or metabolic pathways than chemical structures or the mechanisms of reactions anyway. It’s inarguably important and useful for neuroscience.

9.09J/7.29J (Cellular Neurobiology)
Introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system. Emphasizes the cellular properties of neurons and other excitable cells. Includes the structure and biophysical properties of excitable cells, synaptic transmission, neurochemistry, neurodevelopment, integration of information in simple systems, and detection and information coding during sensory transduction.

Fun, interesting, and multidisciplinary. More quantitative than you’d think (in general, neuroscience is more quantitative than your typcial physcial science/engineering person thinks). The professor, Chip Quinn, is nuts. In a good way. It’s like, somebody threw my General Institute Requirements in a blender and added basic neuroscience – I have to remember 7.013 (Biology), 5.112 (Chemistry), and 8.02 (E&M Physics).

9.35 (Sensation and Perception)
How senses work and how physical stimuli get transformed into signals in the nervous system. Examines how the brain uses those signals to determine what’s out there in the world. All the senses are discussed with focus on vision. Topics include perception of color, motion, form, and depth. Graduate students are expected to complete additional work.

It counts as a bioelectrical engineering elective if you’re Course 6. We dabble in psychophysics, biophysics, optics, the biology of the eye, signal detection theory, and more, and we get to look at lots of cool optical illusions. I get to remember how to do convolutions, a topic I last saw in 18.03 (Differential Equations).

9.14 (Brain Structure and Its Origins)
Outline of mammalian functional neuroanatomy, aided by studies of brain development, comparative neuroanatomy and evolution. Topics include early steps to a central nervous system, basic patterns of brain and spinal cord connections, regional development and differentiation, regeneration, motor and sensory pathways and structures, systems underlying motivations, innate action patterns, formation of habits, and various cognitive functions, and lab techniques. Optional brain dissections.

Evolution is nifty. So is neuroanatomy. Right now, class involves me having a lot of flashbacks to 9.18 (Developmental Neurobiology), which I took last year. There’s a lot of vocabulary. It’s a systems-y class, which I like. We haven’t done any brain dissections yet, though.

2 responses to “Term time again”

  1. thekeri says:

    You’ve probably said this before, but I take it (from your courses this term) that you’re a Course 9 major?

    If you are, then I love you. Really. That’s all there is to it. ^_^

  2. curious says:

    How are you surviving your courses so far, Jessie? It sounds like a very heavy load this semester.

    And what is the next entry going to be about? grin