Are any of my biologist followers able to offer advice as to my class choices next year?
I am definitely taking:
Second Messengers and Cascades
Genes, Circuits and Behaviour
I need to choose one more class, out of:
Immunology & Microbiology vs. General Pharmacology vs. Endocrinology vs. Developmental Psychology vs. Behavioural Neuroscience
Which would you choose?
Click read more if you want to see my opinion piece on the links between mental health and violent crime. I’ve put it under read more because it deals with the Newtown Tragedy and the media’s portrayal of Adam Lanza. Criticism would be much appreciated, as this is a delicate issue, and I want to handle it as sensitively as possible as this will likely end up in my uni newspaper.
In his series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral, Claude Monet captured the dramatic changes in colour of the Western Façade throughout the course of the day, from the blue haze of early morning to the fiery orange at sunset. Monet was a genius because he saw the world differently to normal people; his paintings are striking because they capture something our visual system is hard-wired not to perceive. For the average human observer, the apparent colour of a surface remains constant in spite of the spectral composition of the illuminant changing. A red dress is red in sunlight, electric light and even in the neon blue lights of a nightclub – red is red, even when it isn’t! Two main types of explanations have been suggested to account for this phenomenon of Colour Constancy – global explanations involving the cerebral cortex downward (e.g. Land’s Retinex Theory) and local explanations involving just the lateral geniculate nucleus and retina (e.g. local adaptation). Recent experiments by Kraft and Brainard have shown that this is a false dichotomy – by progressively silencing different cues in the scene, they have shown that no one mechanism is responsible for colour constancy. Instead it is likely that the visual system extracts as much information as it can from the scene – both local and global – to maintain colour constancy.
So I spent today playing with human brains. The first time you hold someone’s loves, hopes and fears between your hands is really quite a numinous moment. It is just amazing to reflect that a person’s entire memory, their desires and hates, their quirks and oddities, are all written as a pattern of neural connections onto that orange-sized chunk of porridgy stuff. It makes me remember why I’m here, that in spite of how heavy and difficult the work load is, I really am in the privileged position of learning how our biology, our brains, our behavior, really works.
Just thought I’d like to share…