Sleep-Deprived Guest Post from D.C.

Running on about three hours of sleep followed by a hectic day of traveling has me a little worried about writing a coherent first blog post, but I will try my best to remain logical despite utter exhaustion!  I, Chelsea, am not actually enrolled in the psychology seminar that has been writing on this blog; however, since I’m in D.C. at the Society for Neuroscience Conference, I have been encouraged to contribute my reflections on the conference.

Walking through the long lanes of hundreds of posters at the convention center, I was overwhelmed by all of the poster titles and projects.  I was also sometimes frustrated because I knew I had once learned about many of the topics at some level of detail, but I could not recall this information efficiently enough to comprehend many of these slightly familiar topics.  I have not taken any classes specifically on neuroscience since the fall semester of 2010, so my frustrations had me wondering how well I actually absorbed information from my classes.  Has my knowledge gradually faded over time, or did I never really grasp it?  Although, I did have a feeling that if I had done a little background research on many of the topics, ideas and concepts would have easily come back to me.  So, hopefully the information has just faded over time.  Part of me, however, wondered if the overwhelming number of topics was just too stressful for me to easily recall the information.  I am left wondering if time or stress (or both) was to blame for my inability to decipher many of the posters.

To top the day off, John, Derek, Kristen, and I were walking back from dinner to our hotel room when, all of a sudden, we all looked down at this mysterious dark object on the ground.  Realizing immediately that it was a dead rat, Kristen and I screamed.  After laughing at the irony of the situation, we realized, as student researchers in a behavioral neuroscience lab, that we are exposed to dead rats all the time!  Why did we scream?  This made me think of the concept that it is harder to recognize someone if they are seen in a different context than the context in which you usually see them.  Tonight’s situation seems like a similar phenomenon: In a lab setting, a dead rat is the norm to us, but on a relatively clean city sidewalk, a dead rat tends to surprise us.  This also got me thinking about John’s previous post on animal consciousness; the context of the situation can greatly alter how we view animals.  We somehow justify animal research in a lab setting, but we would never dream of sacrificing our pets for science.




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