This week I was finally able to conduct an interview with two guests from the San Diego for Children. This center focuses on aiding children and adolescents who have either emotional or behavioral disorders. One of the representatives we talked to was, Erica Gomez - Aranda who is the program manager at one of the their Life School Day Treatments. Their center branches out to many different programs such as outpatient therapy, foster care, residential, school based therapies and about six other services as well. Something Erica said that really stuck with me was, “These kids are not only struggling with emotional health issues but also the constant stigmas surrounding brain health, the most important thing we can do is let them be heard and do our best to raise awareness against these stigmatizing labels.” This really resonated overall, with what our goals are for this project, and especially what my group hopes to achieve during the NAMI walk. It was also just super nice to be able to sit down and have a conversation surrounding these common disorder and what we as a community can do to help out, whether it’s by participating in walk-a-thons or being a spokesperson for a certain cause. In the end it's important we normalize brain health and especially remove the harmful stigma associated with reaching out for help. This interview left me wondering how I could continue to play an active role in my community in regards to brain health after our project ends. I hope to continue being an advocate in my topic and participate in local events.
Internship is right around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited! I am more then happy that I was able to find an internship that incorporates my interests for the future. During this past year I have grown more and more interested in human biology. In the future I definitely see myself studying emergency medicine since that is my primary focus as of now. I would also love to work in a hospital, specifically, the emergency room. Another goal of mine would be to not stay in one place. I would love to be moving around and hopefully be able to study in another country where I can gain cultural experience while doing the things I love and seeing the world! Another recent thought of mine involves the Medical Corps. This is an idea that I would like to further pursue, I’m interested to see what being a physician or medical officer in the military entails. Areas I need to work on in my work life include time management because I’m definitely the type of person that puts things off until the last second and then when the time comes, I begin to panic. Heading into my internship I feel very excited to be out in the real world gaining enriching experiences but also a little confused as to what I will be working on during internship. In conclusion I am very fortunate to have been able to score the internship I have and I am beyond grateful to my mentor for taking me in.
This week we were able to receive critique from professionals all throughout San Diego. Overall it was a very enriching experience and it was nice to have a fresh pair of eyes. My group decided to focus on our t-shirt design because we were a bit stuck on how to continue. Our first pair was with Ms. Nuvia which was extremely helpful. Our original design was a stencil of a profile shot made out of a ticking time bomb meant to depict that adolescents are often seen as crazy and ready to explode. Immediately we were told that this could be viewed as stigmatizing, it was something we hadn’t really taken into consideration so I’m glad we addressed that. Since our topic is emotions on the brain her next piece of critique was to mix my t-shirt design (can be viewed on my last post) and combine the emoticons with our current profile stencil and completely remove the time bomb. To the upper left I included an image that is featured in our little book. It shows the left and right side of the brain sort of bursting with what pertains to them. Based off of that image Ms. Nuvia had the idea of making the emoticons look like theyŕe coming out of the head. Our second professional was Sandra from the UCSD C.A.R.E facility. She helped a lot with our activity that will be done during the NAMI walk and how we can find a way to simplify it since during exhibition it took a long time. Something that really stuck with me was when she said, ¨You want people to leave feeling empowered and having left knowing a bit more than before.” It was extremely motivating and I know during exhibition it will encourage me to step out of my comfort zone. All in all I am very grateful for everyone who took the time out of their day to come here and help us in the critique process. My wondering this week is based on the image above and if it is an accurate depiction of the brain. Do the left and right side correspond to completely different things or is this an exaggeration?
Festival Del Sol was definitely jam packed! I had tons of fun exhibiting to various guests and teaching what we had learned so far as to how different emotions affect the brain and the stereotype that affects teens. My favorite aspect was being able to practice with kids from the middle school since I personally like working with them. It reminded me of a famous quote that reads, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” by Albert Einstein. I’ve seen this quote plastered all over High Tech classrooms on posters and of course it’s managed to work it’s way into my mind. I believe it’s a very good way to measure where you are and be able to improve from there. A lot of the feedback we received was based on our t-shirt. Since our topic is a bit tricky our main critique was to find a new design that expressed what we trying to say about the stigma towards adolescents. Examples of this critique includes, “I enjoy the simplicity, perhaps find a symbol that represents emotions, an emoticon, etc.” or ¨I also enjoy a simplified design but make sure to not over simplify since it can minimize your message.” We definitely still need to find a way to simplify the terms we are using since at the NAMI walk there will be many kids who engage in the activities and we want to make sure they leave knowing a bit more about emotions on the brain instead of leaving confused. I think we can also try to shorten our activity because it takes a good while to get through it since our audience has to be coloring as we ask questions. Instead of asking question by questions we can ask them all at once and have them listed so that part of the process goes by quicker and we can immediately transfer into our explanations. My wondering this week is how many ids with an emotional or behavior disorder are able to receive help? This sort of connects to the organization I am thinking of communicating with since they aid in helping kids with these disorders. Overall I am super excited for exhibition and think it’s awesome that a walk-a-thon will be happening right in front of us!
This week my group broadened our topic to emotions instead of specifically, negative emotions. It is extremely helpful since we were kind of overlapping with the depression group. Through my research I have ran into several hormones linked to serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and much more. It’s been super interesting to see how these chemicals play a vital role in the brain and making you you! During my research I ran into an article from The New York Times by Lisa Feldman Barrett That completely intrigued me, one quote reads, “My lab analyzed over 200 published studies, covering nearly 22,000 test subjects, and found no consistent and specific fingerprints in the brain for any emotion.” I’d been hearing so much about how various parts of the brain pertained to specific emotions so it very super interesting to hear a different claim. This encouraged me continue my research and see what other supporting arguments I could find. I also believe their is a lot of stigma surrounding adolescents and how we are, “hormone crazed” which is another contributing factor as to why I want to bring awareness to this topic and educate others. Happiness is an accepted emotion, whereas sadness is not. I’d like to show neurologically that just like your happy and various chemicals have to do with that, you can also have negative feelings related to hormones in the brain as well. My slogan for this project is, “Emotions are the building block of human life.” I chose this because as mentioned before there is a lot of stigma surrounding negative feelings and I want to show that both happiness and sadness are a part of life that should be accepted. My wondering this week is based on behaviors. I understand emotions and behaviors are hand in hand but I would like to know more about that connection. There are six basic emotions, anger, disgust, fear, sadness, happiness and surprise. and the physical response lines up with them. When you're happy you smile and laugh. When you’re sad you frown or cry. I would like to know what causes this to happen and how it’s a natural response in everyone.
Our recent field trip to UCSD C.A.R.E was very interesting. Their goal of being able to quickly diagnose patients with psychosis was extremely intricate and it was cool being able to get a behind the scene experience of the new technology they use while working towards their goals. A really awesome moment for me was taking our mini tour around the hospital and all the buildings surrounding it. I found it fascinating how all those extra buildings are really what keep the hospital running day and night. Personally I’m interesting in emergency medicine so it was cool to see where the ambulance delivers the patients and I got to learn a bit about what goes on inside. Such as who receives the patients and how the nurses and very well trained in dealing with trauma since they are a level 1 trauma center. Back at the psychiatric center I got to gain a deeper understanding of what it is they do on an everyday basis and how they treat patients and do research. Another great experience was watching them put the EEG cap on one of my peers and seeing how they were able to get so much information from that. They caps recorded the neuron and muscle activity. Whenever my peer blinked with the cap on you could see how much the activity would increase, it was crazy! Overall this visit left me wondering how psychology and psychiatry plays a role in emergency medicine and how they respond to trauma. Hopefully I am able to do a bit more research on that and how it affects the brain.
Our recent field trip to Dr. Sasha Kauffman’s lab was amazing! The staff was super welcoming and invited us to actively participate in order to further our understanding of what is it they do on an everyday basis and how lab work really looks like. A big learning experience for me personally was during the brain slicing. I was actually given the opportunity to glue the tiny mouse brain onto the tiny pans that they use to place and cut the brain. Of course I was really nervous and had shaky hands so when it came time to glue the brain I accidentally flung it elsewhere. I felt embarrassed but quickly recovered with help from our lab specialist and managed to successfully place the brain on the small pan. Through this I was able to realize that growth comes from simple mistakes and improving from there. Learning about the teen brain has personally really given me so much information that I never would have know about otherwise. Particularly learning about neuroscience and an adolescent brain has cleared many stereotypes regarding teenagers and how we are, “hormone crazed”. Through this I’ve been able to how I can better take care of both my physical health as well as understanding how important my mental health is and how to make sure I am treating that with care as well. Everything a human is, is really in the brain. This is where all our thoughts, emotions, memories, actions, the list goes on and on comes from. Because of this, neuroscience can help us pinpoint all these different behaviors and learn why and how it’s happening. As young advocates I would say a lot of the stigma surrounding teen brain health is due to a lack of understanding. The more we are able to educated ourselves and others the deeper understanding we can receive on various mental health topics.
This week was definitely packed with a ton of information. Having two guest speakers was a great opportunity and I was able to get so much hands on experience from it. I personally really enjoyed our visit with the representatives from Dr. Sasha Kauffman’s lab since I able to get such a deep understanding of the tools scientist use in order to further their studies on the brain. A great moment for me was looking under the microscope and finally getting an in depth look at the brain and what it’s really made up of. At first it was a bit challenging identifying the different structures within the brain but little by little my partner and I got the hang of it and were able to successfully find these sections! Another awesome learning moment was learning a bit about the chemical their lab focuses on, Kisspeptin. It was super interesting to see how much more information they have gained through their research and learning about this chemical’s critical role in puberty and development. Through their presentation and activities I was also able to learn that Kisspeptin in mainly found in the hypothalamus and is basically the “activate” button for puberty which is super interesting! This led me to wonder what would happen if this chemical was completely removed or vice versa, doubled. Hopefully during our visit to their lab I am able to follow up with these questions.
I’ve been looking forward to this campus crawl ever since my brother first went five years ago. Time seems to have flew by since then. The trip was an interesting mix of excitement and exhaustion at the same time all throughout the two and a half days. Starting off I unfortunately got absolutely no sleep on the entire ride there except for a couple of minutes where I would occasionally doze off. Making the best out of a hapless situation two other friends and myself decided to construct a makeshift table out a blanket and play cards. It was a hilarious half hour where we continuously attempted to keep our best efforts of “table” intact while simultaneously keeping a game going. The most memorable thing I heard on the trip was at Cal Poly Slo when someone asked if the school had a strong Biology program and they replied with saying it’s a, “hard sciences” school. That was definitely a selling point for me. I’m looking for a university that will constantly challenge and push me to pursue my interests and this school was one that I hadn’t put much consideration into before but now has really moved to the top of my list. My final takeaway was just to enjoy what I have left of high school. For some time I thought that I was super ready to at any point leave to university. There was a moment at Santa Cruz where I just realized that I wasn’t ready for college and I knew that I needed my final year and half of high school to mature and then finally dive into furthering my education.
Throughout these past three days my perspective was widened on so many topics. Day to day my top choices varied but one that definitely stuck out to my was Ylenna’s presentation on body image and what it does to the brain. I believe this is a huge topic that is not always brought up. In humanities I am actually also researching this topic and how it affects our culture whereas if I committed to it in biology I would have the opportunity to discovering the biological aspect of it! Through the presentation something that really surprised me was that our brain actually contains a highly distorted model of what we actually look like. Researchers at UCLA found that those with body disorders have less brain activity when processing images as a whole -- what they call the, “big picture” -- than they do when looking at things in greater details. This information is crucial to understanding how the brain perceives the body this way. There is also a lot of stigma surrounding this issue. Many people believe and stigmatize those facing a disorder as “crazy”, “weird” and most commonly, “attention seekers”. This is why I would like to be an advocate for this topic, it’s a huge issue that affects so many people and is only talked about in hushed voices whereas instead we could be reaching out and educating others on the importance of acceptance and awareness of what's actually going on. My burning question would be, “do any other parts of the body contribute to these disorders? If so which ones and how?