It must have been early grade school when I fell in love with the brain. I’ve tried to reason it out for years – maybe its the fact that this tiny pink glob holds everything that is us, or maybe its the sheer mystery the field still is – but I haven’t been able to place my finger on a one definitive reason the brain means so much to me. It just does, I guess.
Anyways, since about a decade ago, I’ve wanted to know as much about the brain as possible. And it was hard, because neuroscience was never really a course high schools offered. I could spend hours a day getting lost in Wikipedia – swinging from link to link until all of the pages were black and purple. But it was hard to process all of that information without someone telling me how it all strung together.
Sophomore year, all Neuro majors at Hopkins go through The Nervous System I and II. It’s this densely packed, fast-paced, comprehensive survey of the nervous system. And it’s exactly the class I’ve been waiting for for over a decade.
Professor Hendry is hands-down one of the best professors I’ve had at Hopkins. I’d say he’s less of a lecturer and more of a storyteller. He takes us through each sensory system like it’s a narrative, starting off broad as he sets the scene, sharpening it down to a point, and then tracing it painstakingly up into the brain until its perceived. Dr. Zhao, who also lectures, is great too. He’s a genius; his lectures are fast-paced, matter-of-fact, and concise.
Right now, we’re about to take a test on Tuesday that covers neurotransmission. The exact lectures that are going to be covered: Synapses, Neurotransmitters, Neurotransmitter Release, Ionotropic Receptors, G-Protein Coupled Receptors, Neuropharmacology, and Amino Acid Neurotransmitters. Each lecture comes with an extensive set of notes (they go down easy, though, because they’re steeped in his sass and sarcasm), a Powerpoint, and the notes we took in class.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been so anxious for a class like this for so long, but I’d have to say I honestly just don’t really mind studying. It’s our third test (along with a couple of quizzes) so I’ve more-or-less got my study flow down for this class (you’ll realize quickly that while you may have preferences for how you study in general, but each class calls for its own plan of action that you have to figure out once you start the semester).
It’s pretty straightforward. First, I just read the notes. I buy an iced double dirty chai from the Daily Grind, walk down to C level (the second quietest level on the library, because D level is way too intimidating for a pathologically noisy person like me), take out a printer-warm stack of notes, and read and underline page-by-page. This takes long, sure, but I feel like it’s the only way to make sure that you’ve run into all of the information you’ll need at least once in your life. After reading everything, I watch some videos Hendry was nice enough to record and put up on our Blackboard site – he takes single subjects and explains them in depth. You never even have to go on Youtube.
I try do get all of this done two days before the test. The day before the test I reserve for practice tests and big picture stuff. For the last test, I spent a part of the day drawing out all of the connections for the auditory system. I take to a room in Brody and write over the walls any relationships or connections or trends I can think of so that the stuff starts to make sense conceptually. Before I sleep, I go through my powerpoints as one final refresher.
Nervous System is at 1:30pm, which is nice because I can sleep in on the day of the exam. I honestly think that’s the most important part of the test. I would easily give up 3 hours of studying if it meant I was well-rested for a test. For me, at least, it helps me recall everything better and keeps me creative when Hendry throws curvevall hypotheticals our way.
It’s just nice to know that through the whole process, Dr. Hendry’s office is always open to pop in and spew questions. They really genuinely want us to love this stuff as much as they do and understand it as best as we can. I mean you can talk to him about whatever you want. He’s not just a great professor, he’s a great person too.
I don’t know, guys. I just really love this class.