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I never knew what being a “neuroscience” major really meant when I came to Hopkins. I mean as a high school student I never studied the brain or the nervous system, and I guess being a “neuroscience” major sounded well, cool.
Only since coming here have I realized how valuable and intriguing studying neuroscience, especially at a place like Johns Hopkins, really is. Having basically chosen the major on a whim, the classes I’ve taken here and the people I’ve spoken to have only helped to further compel me into the major. They tell me their undergraduate education at Hopkins has more than prepared them for graduate school and jobs in a real world setting.
I’ve been told that the Hopkins undergraduate neuroscience program is so special because it really integrates neuroscience-specific classes for its undergraduates. Believe it or not, most universities don’t have neuroscience majors take major-specific classes until they’re juniors or seniors; many colleges don’t have a neuroscience program at all. On top of that, many of my friends and peers partake in neuro-related research with graduate, PhD students, and renowned faculty. So many students are able to find a plethora of opportunities because research labs are so welcoming of undergraduates and because there are so many resources nearby.
As a freshman, I’ve already taken three classes related to my major. This spring semester, I’m taking a class called Cognitive Neuroscience, and it’s by far the coolest class I’ve ever taken.
This year, the organization of the course is different than it’s ever been – students watch lecture material and do readings on their own time, then go to class twice a week. On one day, students go to small group “Active Learning” sessions of 10-15 students for material reinforcement and group problem solving. On the other day of the week, teaching assistants hold optional lecture review sessions where students are able to relearn material or ask further questions. The instructors formatted the class in a way that really encourages students to take their time to learn the material, and I think it speaks a lot towards how the Hopkins’ neuroscience program treats their students!
In the three weeks of class I’ve been in, we’ve already covered a variety of topics:
- Learn neuroanatomy and general brain functions
With the use of brain imaging software, we can look at different cross-sections of the brain to locate specific brain regions. We’re also using the imaging software to view lesions and neurodegenerative diseases!
- Different neuroimaging methods
We’ve analyzed various brain imaging methods such as fMRI, EEG, MEG and weighed the pros and cons of each.
- Studied various aspects of the Vision System
Besides learning the anatomy of the vision system, we’ve learned about how it works in relation to our cortices and the workings of optical illusions and why we perceive them in certain ways.
Throughout the rest of the semester, whether it be learning about the auditory/olfactory/gustatory systems, listening to guest lecturers come in and speak, or reviewing cross-sections of brain slices, I know that Hopkins will be providing me with a particularly unique and relevant education that’s hard to find anywhere else.