This week we had an excursion to Cognitive Brain Research Unit at University of Helsinki. First we were introduced to EEG lab where we saw the actual EEG recording environment in a shielded room. It was interesting to hear that even blinking results in 100 times greater signal measurement compared to brain activity. EEG measurement with monkeys probably has a lot of noise because it can be hard to keep them to stay still. Afterwards we attended a lecture where we were shown studies about language development between monolingual and bilingual people. Young bilingual people had larger areas in brain that are linked with language skills. We haven’t really learned how the size of brain areas corresponds to brain power. Maybe the functional area “steals” neurons from nearby areas or maybe it has something to do with having more resources/energy for neurons to use.
Topic for this week was wiring the brain. We learned how brain circuitry mostly develops before birth and how genetics guide the structure and specification of certain areas. Brain’s plasticity from a young age helps to shape the brain for it’s environment to in a way fit the needs of society. The brain still maintains it’s plasticity at later ages as we constantly form new memories and experiences that alter our brain function. Learning and memory are very interesting topics but they are outside the scope of this course so learning about them is left for students own interest for now.