Hello all! I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break, whether you had atrocious weather, fantastically chaotic family gatherings, warm beaches, or too many hours logged for work. It’s difficult to believe that the year is actually 2014. To me it sounds like the year out of some futuristic science fiction novel (so far in the future that Bradbury would have enjoyed it). But here it is, well upon us, and there are many exciting events that have been put into action for this year of transition and growth. One such event has been my little sister selecting her university for next year (despite my best efforts, she will not be joining me here at OWU). I myself am attempting to pursue a career in the field of Occupational Therapy with an emphasis on neurological rehabilitation and have begun to look for opportunities to immerse myself into that area of medicine. But more on that later!
I’ll be addressing some more high-school concerns in the next couple of weeks, but I would like to take this time to briefly discuss the amazing and complex field of neuroscience. I will acknowledge that this topic tends to incite very diverse reactions from people, ranging from fascination to utter apathy. But I recently finished up a very interesting course called Physiological Psychology that examined the various structures and components of the brain and the significance of each in relation to human experiences and behaviors. At the end of last semester each student had to find an article describing a new and progressive piece of news within the neuroscience community. My topic was on a new form of neurological training that would allow an individual to improve of physical performances by primarily working on mental exercises and trials. This sounds impossible, but research done by Dr. Sook-Lei Liew and her colleagues at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland, have shown positive results with individuals working to improve their skills at something, such as playing the piano.
These studies focused on increasing the communication and connectivity between the premotor cortex and the supplementary motor cortex as these are the ares of the brains most associated with motor skills. I will spare you the more complex details, but just imagine in the years ahead being able to learn a new instrument or improve at a sport by simply playing brain stimulating computer games. That is crazy! This is still just a small pilot study, but the very notion that it could be possible to develop a physical skill by mental exercises is amazing.
Thank you for sticking with me through that little geek-out. Second semester has just begun and I have some work to do, so I will bid you all adieu and wish you a wonderful rest of the week and a belated happy new year!
Karson A. Stevenson