Hey guys, we’re in DC! Kristen, Chelsea and I woke up at 4:o0 AM this morning after a very lonely single hour of sleep (for me at least) and got to the conference around 1:30. It would have been a bit earlier, but I might’ve gotten us lost (your joke has been preempted, Kristen!). Because we’re writing this blog we got awfully nifty little ribbons for our badges proclaiming proudly that we are “SfN Social Media.” What does that mean? Not exactly sure, but it sounds important.
My initial impressions are extremely positive. I’m hearing a lot of French, German, Japanese and Chinese, which is refreshing after a consistently monochromatic semester at Colby. There’s a bit of obvious perspective to be gained here; Americans aren’t the only ones doing meaningful research in Neuroscience, despite the fact that we tend to have a rather patriotic slant on modern Psychology in our classes. Petey would say, “what about other cultures” and I’m really glad that we don’t have to fall into Ethan Watters’ (Crazy Like Us) accusations of scientific imperialism. With these extra cultural perspectives, we come closer to understanding the complete neurobiological basis of the human experience, not just the Western one.
There are a lot of people here. 30,000, to be somewhat exact. It’s a bit overwhelming but I must say there are so many things to do that each individual experiment still seems like a personal conversation with the author. The scope of this event is massive, and the locale fits the bill admirably – the DC convention center is huge and modern and well-equipped, including some pretty good Wifi (obviously), and some truly cavernous rooms full of brainy magic.
I’m currently leaning up against a wall in the poster session room (they don’t seem to approve of chairs here – maybe at a sufficiently advanced state of neurological knowledge people learn to levitate…?). I meandered through the aisles of posters – there must be more than two thousand here, classified by broad topic of understanding. There’s a row on Fluoxetine, another on autism-spectrum disorder, and more on hippocampal plasticity than you could shake a log at. I’ve been speaking in broader strokes, but I did find one poster that struck me. It was about autism and vaccines. But that’s for tomorrow!
That’s all for now, folks. Expect posts from Kristen and John in the next few hours! Excitement abounds!