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Saba Ashraf's picture

Reflections on the Semester

In the beginning of the semester, I believed Descartes point of view in that there was a brain and a soul. I was comforted in the idea that everyone had a soul and not everything an individual experienced was based off of the physical processes going on in the brain and nervous system. There was also the subject of death and the idea that an individual’s soul could live on, which was also comforting. Now that the semester has ended, I find myself leaning towards Dickinson’s point of view, but I still don’t completely believe in the idea that everything is brain, neurons, etc.   However, I do believe in Dickinson’s point of view much more than when the semester had begun because of everything that was discussed in the course. The idea of the I-function and the fact that certain illnesses were thought to be a problem of the mind, but then turned out to be a problem of the brain were just some of the things that strengthened my belief in the Dickinson point of view. 

 In class, I found the idea of the I-function and the idea that humans are only aware of a small percentage of what is going on in the nervous system very interesting and think they will stay in my mind. Initially, I had never known the extent of information that is received by the nervous system continuously, so it came as a surprise that we are only aware of a small percent of this information. Also, the idea that everything was a construction of the brain happened to be very confusing to me at first, but after discussing vision, this idea became much more clear. In fact, the optical illusions were a prime example of a construction of the brain of a 3d image that didn’t exist. I feel as if others should also be aware of the ideas that everything is a construction of the brain and one is not aware of much of what goes on in one’s nervous system. Other topics that I found interesting and didn’t have much knowledge of before this class included central pattern generator, corollary discharge signals, and color.  

 Three questions I would like to see pursued in the next few years include:

Why does the use of antidepressants increase the probability of suicide among adolescents?   Why is it difficult for some individuals to control their anger over others (anger management issues)? How is de ja vu explained?   

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