Institute of occupational sleep

I think that’s really great, that there are some certain things you always can be sure about. Like Earth goes around Sun, engineers are lazy, managers are in a hurry, architects are always late. (And neuroscientists are snobs, btw)

So, my a bit late reflections on the excursion in the Institute of Occupational Helth.

It was a quiet surrealistic experience, actually. First of all, Institute of occupational health studies almost only sleep. I can see some kind of logic here: the better you sleep the better you (can) work. Even though I know a lot of architects who sleep perfectly well, but I strongly doubt you might like to live in their projects. These architects might be healthy, but this fact has nothing in common with their occupation then. And on the opposite, I’ve never seen a good architect who says he sleeps enough. I don’t try to argue with the fact that sleep is important and affects our brain capacity. But studying sleep as the main criterion of occupational health sounds as weird as that Labor Day is a holiday. I’d like to learn something from studies on how do different types of interiors, traditional and coworking office spaces, affect on our effectiveness, what are the effects of artificial lightening, materials, textures, colours, sounds and noises, how do fixed and flexible working schedules affect the results, studies about group work vs independent work, leadership, psychological climate in teams, etc. I suppose these research topics could be more relative to the contemporary working environment and occupational health.

Next, the building. Let me find a propper word.. Mm, terrible? No, I really wonder why people who are supposed to study occupational health have to work in that ugly depressive environment? In dark spaces somewhere under ground, without windows and normal lightening, with long corridors painted in weird colours, which are furthermore sometimes a bit of a maze, and staircases like from the horror movies? How do they manage to work there without falling into deep-deep-depression?! They definitely have some secret knowledge they don’t share with us.

And finally, the research. I’m not from the field and know nothing very little about science and scientific research. But what’s the point in studying obvious things? During several months they were running research on men in army, collecting eeg data, analysing it, and all this to find what? To come up with the idea that people after physical loads and high stresses need more rest. Really? Really?! Very surprising. I would never guess. That sounds like “two years scientists were studying water in Baltic sea and  finally came up with the conclusion that it is wet”.


And this is a photo of an ant under an electron microscope.

Don’t you know why does he need a gear wheel?

AMI excursion

For so many years I was longing to try to fool the lie detector, and finally got a chance. It says I always lie. Despite the fact I do never. And say nothing but truth. That’s quite offensive. So from that session I have learned that the lie detector hates me. And it’s a liar. Don’t believe it, believe me.

fMRI lab was way more keen to me. Probably because we were a bit familiar. It was nice to refresh some general knowledge and get an ability to ask some questions and clarify few details. And I was glad to meet lab assistants again. They are always so kind and helpful, it’s a big pleasure to work there.

TMS sounds like a powerfull technology with a wide spectrum of application variability. Hovewer, when it goes about treatment and healing (not about research), I doubt that all these “helping devices” can make us healthier and happier. I think this kind of technologies make those who use them weak. Well, maybe it’s a way of natural selection realization.

Week 4 Exercise session

And again about the exercise session 🙂

Last week we were running a short experiment measuring the response time for aural and visual stimuli by using special application Expyriment. The process was interesting itself, but what was absolutely unexpected were the results. I’ve run the experiment 7 times, got quite controversial results for both types of stimuli, and the rest of the session was trying to understand this data with the help of professor Marko Havu and course assistants.

These exercise sessions do really motivate me to learn more, to try to find answers and explanations by revealing the questions and making me stuck.

Week 3

Today’s lecture was dedicated to the Synaptic Transmission. We were studying related terms and definitions (gap junction, neurotransmitters and their 3 types, absolute and relative refractory period, EPSP, IPSP, etc.), classifications and mechanisms and different methods of research (optogenetic, for instance). The difference between chemical and electrical transmission was explained (electrical synapses are bidirectional and they are faster). Then, since the majority of synapses are chemical the rest of the lecture we were studying them only.

Week 3 Exercise session

Couldn’t resist mention our second exercise session. We had a chance to try to make a 3d model a brain while listening the lecture of professor Marko Havu about the brain structure and its main parts. That was very crucial for me to be able to rebuild the whole thing from the scratch, step by step, since the final pictures of the brain in the books usually look too sophisticated and complicated to me (not to say messy :-))

(No no, I will not dare to post photos of my masterpiece here, but it was a great experience. And very beneficial in terms of understanding its spatial structure, inner organization and proportions.)

Thank you for this experience

Week 2

Week 2 was started with a short quiz of about 7 questions. The quiz was not that difficult since I have been reading the book and making my notes during all the weekend. Besides that, I have to say that I like a lot this kind of activity since it activates attention and forces to recall randomized parts of your new knowledge very rapidly – all the new information from the previous week in 5 minutes only.

After the quiz, the lecture has started. This week we had two lectures: Iiro Jääskeläinen and Risto Ilmoniemi were lecturing together. So. the lecture became not a monologue but a dialogue between two neuroscientists, which encouraged the audience to participate in the conversation.

We were studying the mechanism of AP, all it’s phases in details (rest state- stimuli-threshold-depolarization-peak-repolarization-hyperpolarization-resting state). Then, we went through different types of classification of synapses (electrical-chemical, axon-axonic/axon-dendritic/axon-somatic). Besides that, we were given the explanation of neurotransmitter transmission, we have learned where and how transmitters are synthesized, where are they stored, released and destroyed.

Reflections on the Lecture 1

Since my owner is not from the field (her background is architecture) I have learned a lot of new from the first lecture. Well, almost everything was new. It was crucial to get the general overview about my structure of brains. I have learned about Broadman’s areas, types of brain cells (which are not only neurons – surprise!), types of neurons and general understanding about how do I work.

So, here are some keynotes.


The brain is a system which could be studied on different levels: as a physical system, chemical system, biological system.

The brain receives information, interprets it, then stores, transforms it, then produces knowledge, and finally gives an output, which is expressed in the control of the body.

The brain has well-structured task-division management. The brain consists of 4 main areas (frontal lobe, pariental lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe), which are subdivided into 52 areas of the brain surface, so-called Broadmanns zones (or Broadmanns areas). These zones have their fixed numbers. Each zone is responsible for a particular kind of tasks. For example, zone number 4 is responsible for movements, 3 – for skin sensors, 17 – for vision, 41- for hearing, 44 and 45 – for language, etc.

The brain consists of two main types of matter: gray and white, approximately in 50/50 proportion. Gray matter is on the top, and white is inside. Gray matter of the brain (cortex) is covered with gyri. Gyri is on top of convolutions, it covers all the surface of the brain. Sulci is inside

Brains could be studied on different levels, from the level of elementary particles (strings), through atomic physics, chemistry, molecular biology, cytology, physiology, anatomy, phycology, sociology, etc.


One of the Pioneers of the brain research was Santiago Ramon Y Cajal (1852 – 1934), who was studying brain cells with a microscope and making hand-drawings of brain cells. He was the first who defined different types of cells.

Neuron types:

  • unipolar cells (one input/output),
  • bipolar cells (two dendrites – for input and output separately),
  • multipolar cells,
  • pyramidal cells and
  • stellate cells.

Gray matter consists of cell bodies, unmyelinated axons, dendrites and glial cellsWhite matter consists of myelinated axons.

Glia (from “glue”) consists of astrocytes (which are not neurons, but between them), it fills most of the space in the brain that is not occupied by neurons and blood vessels. Glia transports “food” for brains, from blood to cells.

Synapse is a connector for information transfer, it’s a connector between two cells to pass a signal from presynaptic axon to post synaptic. Sygnal goes through synapse only in one direction. Astrocytes – is one type of the glia. Second type is Oligodendrocytes, which wrap around cell for electrical insulation. Axons are surrounded with many layers of oligodendrocytes. This insulation is called myelination, axon covered with oligodendrocytes is a myelinated nerve.

Neuron is an “adding machine”, it adds the input multiplied by synaptic strength. Tens of thousands of inputs comes into one cell. And synaptic connections are changing permanently. This mechanism is called neuroplasticity, and is one of the mechanisms of learning.