My last week…

Hello my dear followers!

For this week’s post, I would like to tell you a bit about my past week and science it was surrounded with! There were a lot of seminars, presentations, and watching documentaries – I am very excited to share some of the things I learned with you 😊

For my Neurophysiology class, we all had to do a seminar on a certain topic – I believe it’s a great idea to learn new knowledge as well as new means of communications. This task required every person to do a short review article about the subject and present it to the whole class (through PowerPoint or similar application). My topic was about the influence of music on neuroplasticity and Mozart effect. I am sure all of you heard of the expression “Mozart effect”, and yes, it’s real, but… Generally accepted definition is plain wrong. Listening to Mozart’s music won’t boost your IQ, but one part of it called spatial reasoning. It means you will do better in a maze or a labyrinth, and only for a short amount of time (around 15 minutes). First reported finding was published in 1993, where it was found that listening to Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D-Dur K448 had positive effects on human subjects (as explained before). The sonata is a beautiful piece that lasts around 25 minutes (link here), although 1993 study played it for 10 minutes only (I couldn’t find which part of the sonata was played, I assume first 10 minutes). Later studies showed that, apart from the whole song, rhythm is extremely important in boosting spatial reasoning, and this effect is not tied solely to Mozart – Schubert, Bach, Beethoven work as well, as does the music of Greek composer Yanni (similar to Mozart’s songs in tempo and pitch). With playing an instrument, situation is a bit different – it helps develop many skills both in childhood and adulthood, and has been implied in neurogenesis!
I believe this kind of exercise is extremely important to students, because:

  1. It helps us navigate the literature and articles
  2. We are practicing our scientific language expressions and skills in our mother-tongue (Croatian in this case, and believe me, some of the English phrases are pretty tough to translate)
  3. We are also practicing our presenting skills and communication with colleagues who are not familiar with the topic

geert-pieters-588258-unsplashPicture 1. A beautiful piano (Photo by Geert Pieters on Unsplash)

Also, in connection with this particular class, we often do online exercise that are educational, fun, and ethical – in a way that we learn how to use and manipulate certain animals, without actually harming them. First task we had to do was to investigate how different gene mutations in Drosophila melanogaster affect their learning and memory abilities. This online simulator is called Fly School (don’t forget to allow the Flash Player, and maybe refresh the page again!). In this exercise, you can choose between various options in how to train your fruit flies, and test their memory after 30 minute or 24 hour interval. Another interesting online exercise we did was Mouse Party – here you can choose between animated mice that are under influence of some sort of drug and learn more about how these drugs affect the brain in a molecular level and which regions of the brain are affected the most. I think these kinds of exercises are really interesting take into studying, for both students and someone who would simply like to know more about subjects like this!
Note: None of these exercises were developed by our Faculty or Department, they are just handy online tools our Professors sometimes use.

Another thing I did last week was actually my favourite. Despite some health problems, I managed to give a class presentation to high-schoolers from my school! In Croatia, many of us gradute from grammar schools (I am not quite sure this is the right translation, but the point is, after finishing this kind of high school we can’t work, it is literally a preparation for college or university). I love being a part of many science manifestations dedicated to children and teenagers, and I was really honoured to be invited to present to the class about Department of Biology and student’s opportunities both in and out of Faculty of Science! Most of the questions were usually about exams and time, but some asked about additional for lab work, summer schools, and networking opportunities! I was really happy to see how motivated they are, despite being under quite a big amount of stress, due to their final exams. I also liked being back in my high school – I can honestly say, it’s better than ever. There are many new dedicated Professors and offer new possibilities for studying and improving, with better curriculum and more extracurricular activities, such as Book Evenings, Statistics for beginners, Movie Nights…

Picture 2. Me presenting to class and being really excited to see my name on the poster announcement!

How about you, dear followers? Do you like to be a part of such #scicomm lectures and classes? And did you try one of the online exercises I mentioned here, and if yes, what did you think? Can you recommend some similar online material? 😊

P.s. If you enjoy my writing, please let me know in the comments, as well as what would you like to read about next! You can also follow me on my social networks or subscribe by e-mail!

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