Week 2 – Lecture 2 + Chapters 3-4

Week 2 lecture began with the first quiz based on chapters 2 & 3. The exam was quite short and easy. We did get 2 extra points for being present so that was a nice surprise.

After the quiz in the class, we spent some time going over the questions asked in presemo during the previous lecture. It was nice to see the presemo questions being properly addressed with concise and focused answers. One of the students asked about the book about free will and it was good to receive the answer to that question since some of us were curious about it as well.

Following that, we learnt about action potentials and its role in neuroscience. The subjects were quite familiar from lessons in high school biology so it was a nice refresher for those of us who have not used this knowledge in the past few years. We learnt about reflex actions, the resting membrane potentials and the structure of the cell membrane including the membrane proteins.

Moreover, we went into more detail about the process of a neurone impulse which was new knowledge for some of us. We saw that the threshold for action potential and how the magnitude of the spike remains the same but only the rate at which it is fired differs. This provoked a thought about how all humans feel the same amount of pain but the rate of it and the time period of how long the pain last differs based on the source. Also it is interesting to know that mental pain feels exactly the same as physical pain and it could even be more “painful” since mental pain could last longer and be triggered more often than physical pain.

Moving on this week’s exercise session, we felt the workload was manageable and the derivation of the Nernst equation was intriguing. While the exercise included information that we already learnt in high school, such as the structure of a neurone, classification of glial cells, description of action potentials and the function of myelination, it also included new knowledge such as the calculation of equilibrium potentials for ion with the Nernst equation, the velocities of action potentials and the delays in synaptic clefts.

So far, a key challenge for some of us with a Finnish background has been language, since, all the terms and phenomena were taught to us in Finnish language, hence it adds a bit of work to translate it all to English. It happens often that the content seems unfamiliar but upon translating, we realise it was familiar information after all.

On the other hand, for those of us without a Neuroscience background, for example with a Computer Science background, there is a bit of extra work revising through old topics that were taught in high school and not used at all in the past 5 years. Even so, it is very exciting and interesting to be able to apply this knowledge again.

– Maria & Pekko

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