Summer SAVY 2017, Session 5/Day 4- Neuroscience Navigators, Wilkey (Rising 2nd/3rd)
Today, our fourth day of Neuroscience Navigators, we scaled up from cellular neuroscience to talk about some of the complex processes the brain performs, including learning, memory, and cognition. We first discussed what we knew about each of these words, and showed that we already knew quite a bit! Learning begins with taking in information about the world from our senses, we then store this information with our memory, and cognition involves using this information for thinking and behavior.
We then rotated through “Cognition Stations”. These involved different tasks which tested our memory, executive function, and cognitive control, including the Stroop task and learning a maze (ask your navigator about these!). We worked with partners to measure our performance with stop watches and recorded the data. After break, we discussed why some of these tasks were hard (or not) and why our brains improved with practice.
To conclude the day, we learned more about memory and the hippocampus beginning with a video about H.M., the famous epilepsy patient whose bilateral hippocampus was removed and was then unable to form new memories. Most of us were familiar with this condition from Dory of Finding Nemo! To build on our new knowledge of neuroimaging, we conducted an experiment where we measured the size of the posterior hippocampus from MRI images. It turned out that one group of hippocampi were bigger than the other. We learned that this simulated a real neuroscience experiment which found that London taxi drivers had larger posterior hippocampi due to their outstanding spatial memories (see the video linked below)!
Tomorrow, we plan to integrate all of what we’ve learned this week to design our own research study on brain health!
Mr. Eric Wilkey