Week 6: Exam week is coming

Last week (we forgot to post this on time…) we did not do much for the course, because of the upcoming exam week. One of us participated in the lecture and the other did the quiz at home, and that was all we did for the course last week, because we preferred to read for the exams.  

The lecture was about neurotransmitter systems, which were covered in chapter 15 of the book. For example acetylcholinergic, dopamine and serotonic pathways were covered. These were already familiar to us from high school, but the book went way further in the topic. 

Last quiz was a little confusing because it had some questions about things that were not covered in the given chapter. For example, there was a question about hemostasis rather than homeostasis. The assistant saw this error and figures out how to deal with this problem.

We are excited about the coming excursions. We’re wondering what kind of companies or laboratories we are going to visit, and perhaps spot a future job there. It would be great if we visited some big companies like Philips, where they could show us their MRI scanners, but it would also be cool to visit some small businesses related to biomedical engineering.

  • Atte & Joonas

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Week 5: Starting to get into the interesting stuff

This week’s lecture handled neurotransmitters and their systems. There are many different neurotransmitters in the nervous system, glutamate being the most common excitatory and GABA inhibitory neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine is also one important neurotransmitter, and cholinergic receptors are nicotinic and muscarinic receptors.

This week we completed the exercise 2. It was tedious work, but we think we learned  something new. We definitely did not master the structure of the brain and their names, but the exercise was an introduction to the subject. The exercise was repetition after repetition and we think it proved effective in learning the names of the brain structures. Sometimes the learning was a bit hard, because we did not know what was the function of certain part of the brain. Afterwards, when we read the chapter 15, we noticed that some of the brain parts where already familiar to us!

Chapter 15 consisted of three neurological systems that control the body via chemicals and electrical signals. The systems were called secretory hypothalamus, the ANS and the diffuse modulatory system. The first two were already familiar to us from high school, but we hadn’t heard of the last.

We were wondering, why are chemical synapses so much more common than electrical synapses? Aren’t electrical synapses faster and thus much more efficient? We also wondered, why living beings evolved in a way that so many different neurotransmitters are used in the nervous system.

  • Joonas & Atte

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Week 4

This weeks lecture started, again, with a recap of what we had already read about from the book. We are not sure what to think about that kind of learning concept. We would like to learn new things at the lecture, but on the other hand, the recap is great for preparing for the final exam. 

 

The receptive fields introduced in the lecture confused us a little. Even though we read about this concept after the lecture, we still aren’t sure how this phenomenon functions. There was so much different little details to learn so we haven’t grasped the concept wet. Maybe next week we’ll stay a little longer in the lecture. 

 

This week, neither of us could make it to the exercise session, so we have no idea what happened there, but we worked on the exercise 2. It was about the structure of the brain, and one of the reasons why one of us came to the course. Although the exercise consisted of learning the brain parts by heart, there were little info boxes that explained a little about what the brain parts did. That was useful in remembering all of the brain parts. It was also very time consuming work and it will continue on the next week.

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Week 3: The eye is not a camera

This week’s topics were about senses and the functioning of the eye. The lecture started with a recap of what we had already studied at home, the synaptic transmission. After that section we left the lecture. The quiz at the beginning of the lecture was harder than we thought, saltatory conduction was a tripping point for us.

This week’s exercise session was an interesting one. We had to build a brain using play dough, which was very helpful in learning how the brain is structured. The exercise session was also an opportunity to learn the vocabulary and structure of the brain. Teachers explained the meaning of the latin words which helped us to remember the names of the brain parts. Some of the latin words were already familiar to us, because we had studied them during a physiology course. We have also studied the anatomy and functioning of the eye on a previous course provided by NBE.

The anatomy of the brain is very helpful to know when you’re imaging the functioning of the brain using, for example, electroencephalography (EEG). When you’re studying the effects of a certain stimuli, you have to know what kind of electrical activation happens in the brain and where.

  • Joonas & Atte

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Mysteries of the brain: Second week

This weeks lecture was about chapter 3 and 4. It covered neuronal membrane and action potential. We both had studied the chapter 3 for the quiz and the lecture felt like a repetition of what we had just studied. That is why both of us left the lecture at the break. 

This week we mostly read the course book. We read the chapters 4 and 5 which were about action potential and synaptic transmission. Both of them were already familiar to both of us, but still we learned new things. For example the electrical synapses were a new thing for us. 

Chapter 4 covered the details of action potential. When a nerve fires an action potential (otherwise known as a spike), there is inward and outward movement of positive ions, potassium and sodium. This movement of ions creates an electrical current, which propagates along the axon of the neuron like a domino effect.

Chapter 5 revealed the mysteries of different kinds of synapses. Like said before, we didn’t know much about electrical synapses before. We also learned about different neurotransmitters released in chemical synapses. 

Even though the things discussed so far in the course have already been taught to us in previous courses, we think it is a good thing to recap the basics before diving into the deep end of the pool. Still, we already want to study the more interesting mysteries about the brain.

  • Joonas & Atte

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Posted by Joonas Laitinen

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