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Neuroscience

Name: Lydia Liang

Year: Class of 2014

Hometown: Rockville, MD and Flushing, NY

Major: Neuroscience

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD (MOSTLY)

Can you guess that organ?

It is more powerful than the world’s biggest supercomputer, belying its fragility. It contains every key to success any motivational speaker has ever discovered. It’s a control freak. More intricate than the most complex works of art, it has created and brought the finest dreams and aspirations of humanity to fruition.

Granted, different people have had different perspectives about this organ throughout history. Ancient Egyptians considered it so inconsequential that when they mummified their dead for the afterlife, they scraped this organ out through the nostrils and discarded it as excess snot. Aristotle, in one of his more questionable revelations, portrayed this organ as a convenient built-in air conditioner that cooled the blood.

I’m talking about the brain, of course! Your brain is the party in your head, the cranial stuffing that seethes with one hundred billion neurons that daily form an estimated five hundred trillion connections with each other. The reliability with which the brain operates, and the horrible consequences to a person when something does go wrong, is what first captured my interest in Neuroscience. How could something that weighs two to three pounds do so much?

Consider the following. Your brain’s slowest speed of message transmission, 260 miles an hour is faster than a race car… The blood vessels in your brain stretch 100,000 miles, or 4 times around the Earth… On average, your brain thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day… Science rules!

 

When I came to Hopkins as a Neuroscience major, I learned that understanding what makes us who we are inside and how we interact with our environment is not only about the brain. The brain is just a (very important) part of our nervous system, which looks a whole lot like we do:

It is composed of nervous tissue that includes the brain and spinal cord, puppeteers every single area of your body, and is actually responsible for everything you do. You want to know why you’re so smart? Thank your Maker, your mother, and your father, but also thank your nervous system. Through the Neuroscience major at Hopkins, you will obtain a broad foundation in understanding the nervous system, as well as advanced training in one of three concentrations – Cognitive, Systems, and Cellular/Molecular – because there is so much to learn about Neuroscience and so little time.

Who, me?

If you become a Neuroscience major, I promise that you will also sharpen your sense of wonder about the world around you. During the course of learning about Neuroscience, it gets very difficult to take your neighbor for granted. You will look at them and begin to see what a miracle it is that they are talking to you, that they have a unique personality, even that their visual system and judgment circuitry can coordinate to perceive the dishes piling up in the sink and not do anything about them (just kidding, I have great roommates). It does get intense fast. A deeper understanding of the glory of others will challenge you to consider them before yourself. With great brains comes great responsibility…

There is no doubt that it takes a lot of studying. It’s most certainly worth it – a detailed understanding of how our bodies are able to interact with our environments is the biggest joy of being a Neuroscience major. Relationships with dedicated faculty, friendships with passionate peers, and the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research in a structured and mentored environment also rank among the greatest benefits of Neuroscience at Hopkins. Below, I’ve highlighted some of the most important features of the Neuroscience major, along with some things I have learned in Nervous System I, one of the core Neuroscience classes. Going into the second semester of my sophomore year, it is one of the classes that I have enjoyed most. Hope you enjoy this taste of Neuroscience too! Thank you for reading what I have to say, and have a blessed rest of the year. See you in Baltimore soon!

 

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Click here to access more information about the Neuroscience Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the Neuroscience question thread.