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mcrepeau's picture

Bojour, Konnichiwa...and the like

Hi everybody! My name is Michelle Crepeau and I am a sophomore here at Bryn Mawr who is suicidally attempting to double major in Biology and in Art History (attempting being the optimal word here, but a valiant attempt if nothing else! Pray for me...). Although, I've never taken a neurobiology class per say, my developmental biology class from last semester focused a good deal on the developing nervous system with particular emphasis on neuron determination, extension and migration in the developing brain and muscular system in various biological systems (our final project involved forcibly (in a humaine a way as possible way) mutating neuromuscular junction points in embryonic zebrafish with LiCl...hours of fun there...). Thus, I feel that I can share some valuable input in regards to the mechanical aspects of the developing brain/nervous system and how proper (or improper development) can affect certain physical behaviors.

As for the pending Art History degree, well, art itself is a very curious and interesting behavior particular to Humans, and not just in terms of the visually/spiritually aesthetic, human conventions of beauty, and manual dexterity, etc. but also in the sense of art as a pictorial language and record of behavior in terms of both its content and its very existence. The agency involved in wishing to communicate and interact in a purely pictorial/visual form and the extent to which that agency has evolved (i.e. we not only use our bodies to communicate, signing, dancing, etc., but also, have utilized complex outside mediums, walls, canvases, computers, etc) and changed over time as humans have dabbled with and striven for continuously meaningful and/or efficient ways to connect with one another (and in some cases with something else beyond ourselves) is (and this is quit the run-on now isn’t it?) a very curious thing. Also, the way humans interpret and translate what they perceive around them into a format that they can then share with others is an interesting concept, especially in terms of considering “what makes a good view” (when discussing landscape painting for example—there are many interesting bio-evolutionary explanations that have been used to explain the basis for our “aesthetic” sense) and how that “good view” can then be singled out and contained within a canvas (the human desire to capture and own and take with them, to immortalize in a way is also an interesting part of the framed arts). There is also the question of Man’s ability to “be true to life” so to speak and if it is possible for a human to accurately “create” an exact replica of, for instance, nature, what with all the “good view” editing that we are prone too, and for our brain’s tendency (in, as was mentioned in class, blind spots for example) to fabricate things (fill in the gaps with what “should” or “could” be there) that it cannot otherwise process.

However, what I am most interested in neurobiological studies are some of the more “out there” so to speak avenues of research that, although a little weird, are nevertheless important for understanding the extent of our brains’ capabilities and which may shed new light on otherwise inexplicable phenomena, the existence of which have led to some integral parts of human behavior in the face of such things as death and the spiritual. That’s right I’m very curious about phenomena such as O.B.E. s, more conventionally known as “out of body experiences”, and the basis that paranormal experiences, such as visual, auditory, and olfactory “ghostly experiences” can be products of neurological activity whether in the realm of ESP or in that of simple hallucinations. For it is known that when stimulating certain parts of the brain, a person can “smell” certain smells or “hear” certain things, or even have the sensation of floating above their own body. In the same vein I am also interested in general in behaviors (or perceived behaviors) induced by altered states of consciences, such as the sleeping brain (dreams, etc.), hypnosis, and their relationship to memories and how we retain and create “real” memories, as well as, fabricated ones. After all, I’ve have memories that may have been dreams and dreams that may have been memories before and am interested in there relationship. Also, kooky things such as “brain homunculi”, which is both the popular image used in text books to visually represent the proportional distribution of brain regions that deal with senses (the drawing is of a little man with exaggerated hands, lips, eyes, etc. in accordance to their allocation in the brain) and the idea that another “agent” so to speak inhabits the brain and processes stimuli and thoughts, are generally interesting theories to read about and view in their own right as a specific kind of behavior.

 

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