Diving into the material

“Since it is the third week of this course, it is about time to take a look at the studying material! At the first lecture we were given the names of the three books used in this course, plus the lecture notes from Risto. I have to admit that having three books plus notes seemed a bit excessive and complicated at first. But it seems to be working out just fine: every week the reading required for the next lecture is clearly stated, and I don’t feel confused about the amount of the material at all. Especially this week I have relied only on the reading material, since I could not make it to the lecture or the exercise session, and I have grown very fond of the Bear, Connors and Paradiso’s book. It is a wonderful example of a great course book: everything is explained very clearly and with lot of pictures, examples and even metaphors to help the reader understand what is going on. These things make the book very easy to follow.

Chapters 3, 4 and 5 from the book (some of these things also covered in the lecture this week), talking about neuronal membrane at rest, action potential and synaptic transmission, gave a really solid and even detailed ground on which to start building on understanding the operational aspects of the human brain. This ground is made even better in the next lecture, when we will start talking about neurotransmitters. Then we are starting to really get into the stuff that I am mainly interested about as a chemist! This week has been and the next weeks will be very important in the sense that it is crucial to understand the way neural cells communicate in detail to be able to affect it somehow.

One thing I also particularly like about this course is that we are encouraged to use more imaginative ways for our learning as well. This week the materials section was extended with tips for helpful apps and flashcards. The 3D brain structure app is very useful especially for me! I sometimes feel that it is difficult to try to comprehend the complex structures of brain with the help of the the “normal” brain structure pictures, since they can only display a limited segment at a time.”

– The Chemist of the Team


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