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.

Author: 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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