Get hands-on with your brain

homer-simpson-wallpaper-brain-1024.pngWe were all very worried when Paul, a childhood friend of mine, turned up at school with a stethoscope and thermometer, and could only look on in horror as he entered medical school. He went completely off the rails a few years back, and became a specialist registrar at the UCL Institute of Neurology. Perhaps he got in with the wrong crowd. Who can say?

To put on my grumpy old man hat for a moment, one of the things I lament about modern psychology courses (even those that are BPS accredited) is the lack of grounding in brain anatomy and function. (‘Patient Y had a problem in his brains’, as one of my students once wrote, quite breathtakingly.) Psychologists do work at a more abstract level than most scientists studying the brain and its effects, to be sure, but a grounding in fundamental biological principles is worth its weight in gold. It certainly makes optimistic conclusions by fMRI researchers easier to evaluate – and, where necessary, pooh-pooh the humbuggery.

So Paul has set up a course designed to give students (of any age or experience) a working knowledge of brain anatomy, functional and clinical neuroanatomy, and an opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with ‘real brains’. If I were a PhD student again, I’d give serious consideration to diverting some of my photocopying budget to a course like this. It’s only 200 quid for the Spring 2008 intake; and remember that you make can great contacts on an intensive course like this.

Paul is an enthusiastic teacher and his feedback ratings have a mean of 4.8/5. He remains, of course, every inch the tit who broke a mercury thermometer over the back of my hand during double maths.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “Get hands-on with your brain”

  1. In the words of Shakespeare: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.

    However, as it happens I did once stab Ian with a broken thermometer (accidentally, of course!) but wonder if the mercuric poisoning may have contributed to his creative abilities? In fact, I should probably request a cut of his book royalties once he hits the big-time.

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