Written Words – Neuro block

They say it’s our chance to learn how the brain works, and they figure it’s complex and important enough to give it its own block. Two solid months of nothing but neuroscience (with a few smatterings of clinical or ethical classes to remind us that we want to be doctors). Two months of neural pathways, slices of brains, lesions, tracts, nuclei. We’re two and a half weeks in and my brain definitely hurts. There’s just so much to learn, and all of the names are interrelated, but in the way that smooshes the ideas together, not the way that makes it easy to trace out a path.

Seriously, how do I remember that fine touch neurons from the upper body have cell bodies in the DRG, run into the spinal cord, ascend in the cuneate fasciculus, and synapse in the cuneate nucleus, but the ones from the lower body ascend in the gracile fasciculus and synapse in the gracile nucleus? And don’t even get me started on paths of the secondary and tertiary neurons that have to travel before we finally reach the cortex. I can follow the diagram they drew in class, so long as it stays schematic and I get to keep the labels. But the rest of it is a foreign language.

Sometimes, though, I get the feeling that they’re just messing with my mind. That maybe Neuro block is really just one big experiment on med students. How much brain info can they feed us before out heads explode? And will we ever notice that they’re making it all up? I wonder, because sometimes I’m in the midst of reading about enzymes and neurons and processing streams and I hit a line like this in my course notes: “This reveals a set of ‘blobs’ and ‘interblobs’ in the superficial layers of V1 (Figure 2).”

If I go mental in neuro block, you know who to blame.

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