Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On Anger

I am now back in St. Louis working in my neurology/neuroscience lab. There is a lot of downtime when I waiting for western blots to get washed or brain lysates to get centrifuged so I have been doing a lot of thinking. Mostly about silly, abstract things. But if I didn't gleefully unload those ideas on my blog and inflict them on you loyal readers (I have quite a few by now), what purpose would this blog serve? Exactly.

So today's topic: what is the biological significance of anger? What is the neurochemical basis of it? In our neuroscience class we went on a whirlwind tour through various emotions and structures in the brain involved in mediating them, but this was more like window shopping. Despite the briefness of this tour, anger was never explicitly mentioned.

And that's weird. Anger is one of the most primal emotions/drives out there. It is rooted in human nature and ranks right alongside lust, hunger and hope. Yet it doesn't seem to serve any constructive purpose. Sure, cultures and creeds of all kind are replete with lores describing in detail the nature and consequences of wrath. Real history is full of examples of rage. But nothing useful has ever come out of this. In all these stories and real life examples, very bad things have resulted from anger.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some song that I used to know

Lame pun alert! You probably figured out what this post is about just by reading the title. If not, well you should lay off whatever it is you are enamored with right now.

Anyway, I am not normally a fan of these sappy, lovey-dovey type songs with high vocals. The exaggerated agonizing gets to me. For whatever reason, though, Gotye's "Somebody that I used to know" has struck a chord with me (another lame pun!). Maybe it's his voice, maybe it's the slow beat in the background. Maybe it's the plaintive but resonant lyrics. The song has been stuck in my head and I listen to it (and the Glee cover version - which is good in its own right) an average of two times a day. Lately whenever I tune the radio to 102.7 I seem to catch the song there too.

Here's the official version from his vevo:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Year end

Last post was more than a month ago. Sort of understandable as I was pretty much held hostage by neuroscience (or, if you are Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, neural science). Could only wiggle out of its hold by learning a shit load of information and passing a test. That test also marked the end of my first year in med school.

[Take a moment and pretend I wrote up a bunch of cliches about how fast time flies, and how only yesterday was I blah blah]

Currently enjoying the remaining two days of my brief break before I report back to duty in my research lab in St. Louis for summer research. A friend messaged me couple days ago asking if I could do a brief retrospective on my first year (specifically for the non-med school readers) and posed a bunch of questions. That's as good an excuse as any to get me back to this blogging thing.

  • What was the worst part of it? You know, this is a difficult question to answer because overall, I enjoyed the experience. There were moments that left me pretty exasperated and desperately in need of a walk (things like memorizing tracts or nuclei of nerves, for example), but in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing.
  • What was the best part of it? Anatomy. A while back I wrote in glowing terms about anatomy. Good stuff.
  • How did you keep sane? That's easy. Med school (first year, at least) didn't pose the threat of driving me to insanity. I found myself having loads of free time on my hands, and made good use of it. At various points in time, I picked up quirky hobbies. Read a lot. Wrote here and there. Made friends. 
  • Was it as difficult as people say it is? The previous answer touched on this. Not difficult, just requires you to digest more information in shorter time than in undergrad. 
  • The most surprising aspect? How much stuff there is to know before we can get even remotely competent to start seeing and treating real patients. I mean before going in I knew I have a long way to go, but I was still surprised by my own staggering ignorance.
  • The thing people may not know about med school that you'd want to share? Med students are pretty normal people, just like you. They have the same desires, interests and quirks. They like to celebrate occasions, party and enjoy life just like any other breed of students. 

Saw these bumper stickers on one car while driving around town:

"Ignorance killed the cat. Curiosity was framed."

"I get enough exercise pushing my luck."