v2

STEMTalk

THE ONE AND ONLY STEM MAGAZINE AT UCONN

ISSUE 2

2017 - 2018

Out of This World

Learn about the vastness of our universe

Academic Enhancers

Looking into the path of modern students

Cyrano

Combining smell with sound

Halotherapy

Being Salty Has

Health Benefits


A ship in port is safe,

but that is not what

ships are for.

Sail out to sea and do new things.

- Grace Hopper -


Dear Readers,

It is our pleasure to welcome and share with you our conversations

within the domains of science, technology, engineering, math, and many other

subjects that will induce your curiosity, creativity, and innovation. We are

thrilled to introduce you to a world filled with wonder, awe, and excitement

that can be understood and read by anyone, no matter where your interests

may lie!

Two years ago, we met as five passionate students with a similar goal

to share the art and phenomenon that the STEM fields have to offer. Our

shared goal became an idea. This idea then transformed into the media platform

that you hold in your hands today: STEMTalk Magazine. Finally, our goal

became a mission: to expose and inform UConn students and faculty of news,

opinions, research, and opportunities within STEM. STEMTalk serves as not

only a place to discuss the STEM fields, but also as an opportunity to display

the outstanding artistic and journalistic talents of the UConn community.

We would like to extend our appreciation to our entire staff for making

this vision a reality. Without the encouraging advice, hard work, and constructive

criticism our members, this magazine would not be what it is today.

We would like to thank our head graphic designer, Shemona Singh, for her

beautiful work in taking words and transforming it into an art. We hope that

this magazine leaves a legacy, begins conversations, and continues for many

generations to come.

To our readers, we hope that the content of our magazine invites you

to think beyond what is taught in your courses, ask questions, and institute

the courage to find answers to those questions yourself. We hope that you

enjoy exploring our second publication and we look forward to hearing any

questions, inquiries, or comments either through our Facebook page (UConn

STEMTalk) or our email, uconnstemtalk@gmail.com !


CONTENTS

Scientist of the Semester

Alif Albiruni

Inside view on Dr. Han’s lab on cyber-physical systems

and its relation to robotics, Alzheimer’s disease

rehabilitation, and everyday life

Being Salty Has Health Benefits

Susanne Walczyk

Digging deeper into the world of halotherapy, a

method of using salt to treat conditions

How do Head Injuries Affect Difficulties

in Communication?

Erin Beckett

What happens to your brain when you

suffer from a concussion?

How Primitive Are We?

Jenny Weiss

Are we really a unique, highly evolved “human” species,

far from primitive Neanderthals, or are we more alike than

previously thought?

Got Drugs?

Neuropsychopharmacology does!

Greta Johnson

Do you know what happens in your body when you

take a drug?

Video Game Concepts in Our World

Camille Kresel

Explore the STEM concepts in Overwatch,

Bioshock, and The Last of Us

A Taste of Our Ecosystem

Nathalia Hernandez

How do we thrive when the ecosystem around us is

suffering a slow & painful death?

Mind-Body Practices Proves Benefits for

Breast Cancer Patients

Emma Atkinson

How does yoga, reiki, and meditation affect one’s

health?

7

8

9

12

15

17

22

24

27

Silver Lining

28 Sayeeda Peerzade

Explore the Lee lab use of rabies virus to target tumors

Benefits of Bilingual Brains

32 Allison Tozzi

How does bilingualism affect language acquisition?

Academic Enhancers are on the Rise for

College Students

35 Julia Colliton

Psychological and physiological consequences of

recreational drugs, focused on academic enhancers

A Musician’s Mind and the Alternate

Uses of Music

41 Shivani Dave

Listening to music affects brain structure and creativity:

a look on music therapy

44

46

54

Out of This World!

Heather Lewis

Do you ever wonder just how big our universe is?

Check out the hubble telescope for some answers!

Reading People like an Open Book

Sarah Lukas

How researchers are linking the shape of your brain to

your personality

The “ Pre- Med Mentality” & How to Cure it

Matthew Lin

Opinion: Is the pressurized culture of current

pre-med students actually hurting our chances

of being a better physician?

Start Sniffing!

51 Delaney Meyer

Can scientists pair scent and music to enhance mood?

Explore the Cyrano!

Bibliography


17

27

41

15

51


STAFF

Feny

Rasania

President

EXECUTIVE BOARD

Divya

Ganugapati

Vice President

Sanjanaa

Sushanth

Secretary

Lysette

Johnson

Treasurer

Shemona

Singh

Layout Manager

Shivani

Patel

Photographer

JOURNALISTS

Susanne Walczyk

Nathalia Hernandez

Heather Lewis

Delaney Meyer

Sarah Lukas

Julia Colliton

Camille Kresel

Shivani Dave

Erin Beckett

Emma Atkinson

Allison Tozzi

Alif Albiruni

Sayeda Peerzade

Greta Johnson

Matthew Lin

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS

Shemona Singh

Apoorva Kulkarni

Adrienne Nguyen

Divya Ganugapati

Sanjanaa Sushanth

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Anna Tobiasz

Anna Montenegro

Saadiya Dalal

WEBSITE DEVELOPER

Sayeda Najamussahar

Peerzade


w

Scientist of the Semester:

DR. SONG HAN

Written By: Alif Albiruni | Designed By: Shemona Singh

Suppose there is a city of the future

where everything is connected, and intelligent systems are

implemented into the society for the greater good. In this city,

servers gather data by counting cars and commuters, as well

as utilizing wireless signals and sensors. This information is

integrated by powerful algorithms to optimize solutions from

train lines to disaster management. At their greatest potential,

Cyber – Physical Systems can impact society in many ways

by using past knowledge to achieve desired outcomes.

One researcher in this field, Dr. Song Han,

currently teaches at the University of Connecticut. He

received his Bachelorʼs degree in Computer Science

from Nanjing University in China in 2003, and a

Masterʼs Degree from the University of Hong Kong in

2006. After that, Dr. Han earned his Ph.D. from the

University of Texas recently in 2012, where he wrote

his thesis on Cyber-Physical Systems.

His dedication to research is recognized by

the sponsorship of institutions including the National

Science Foundation, Texas Instruments, and

Microsoft. He regularly attends conferences to give

lectures on the work that he does, as well as learn

from other professors about their research and

their methods of approaching real-world problems.

Consequently, this also meant that I needed to find a

way to arrange a time to meet with him! Fortunately,

I had the amazing opportunity to interview him in the

Spring of 2017.

I found him to be very welcoming as we

made our introductions. As I heard him talking, I

could sense a character that I was inspired to learn

from and aspiring to be.

What Dr. Han particularly focuses on is the

development of Cyber – Physical Systems. These systems

network all the sensors within the environment

to one or more computers. These sensors give feedback

to detect changes from any of these sensors to

respond with effective decisions.

One might ask, in what ways are these systems

currently applied? On one hand, manufacturing

companies optimize their productivity by measuring

factors such as temperature and machine performance

while queueing orders by dates and

importance. Yet Cyber – Physical Systems can also

be applied to robotics. Intelligent robots can be understood

as systems that are dependent on external

information to act on their own will.

Currently, Dr. Han is receiving sponsorship

from Microsoft and Amazon to develop a large

process control application to run on Microsoft Edge.

This application will collect sensory data to be analyzed

on a Data Analytical platform.

In addition, he is also jointly working with

other faculty from UConn, the City University of

Hong Kong, and the Baptist University of Hong Kong

to develop SmartMind, aimed to help rehabilitate

patients with Alzheimerʼs and help them maintain a

healthy lifestyle. Using Kinect to monitor patientsʼ

movements, SmartMind uses knowledge of the the

relationships between daily activities and key household

objects, such as sitting down to eat breakfast

at a dinner table. It also establishes reminders for

the patient to do things throughout the day such as

to walk around or to take medication. If a patient

falls down and is injured, for example, SmartMind

will call for medical assistance. SmartMind pinpoints

these emergencies with extreme accuracy by

networking the Kinect with other sensory devices

throughout the household.

Dr. Han looks forward to continuing his research

in the future. As part of this process, he looks

for aspiring student researchers of many different academic

backgrounds and technical experience. With

the guidance of their professor, his students analyze

real-world constraints to solve abstract problems as

part of their research as they pursue their doctorate

degrees.


Being Salty Has

Health Benefits

Written by: Susanne Walczyk

Designed by: Adrienne Nguyen

Would you prefer table salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt, or no salt? There are choices even when it comes

to salt. We like to have options, and some provide benefits over others. Known as the 'Salt of the Earth' we

usually have an affinity for this mineral, some in more way than others. It is said that complaining or "being

salty" is healthy because we let our negative emotions out instead of harboring them within. Being salty in

nature or not being shy with the salt shaker/grinder on food can be good for the health. Not all salts are

created equal, so let's look at some of the differences. Table salt is typically iodized; iodine is mixed in to

supplement the diet as it is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Those that prefer sea salt often

acquire iodine from seafood or sea vegetables. Sea salt comes from, well, you guessed it, but as you may also be

aware, the sea is becoming increasingly polluted. Now if you are thinking, “who cares about the options, I am

just going to go salt-less.”, even if that were feasible in this society full of fillers it is actually more deleterious to

your health to avoid salt altogether. "While salt-induced hypertension is typically blamed as a cause of heart

disease, a low salt intake is associated with higher mortality from cardiovascular events" states Chris Kresser,

citing a 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Kresser, 2011). Being salty is heart

healthy as sodium helps in regulating blood volume and pressure. Himalayan salt arguably provides the most

benefits when it comes to food-grade salts. This salt is not chemically processed or refined, leaving all 84

minerals within its pink-tinted crystals. These naturally occurring minerals are also found in our bodies, and

they are replenished by consuming Himalayan salt. It may be ingested, applied topically such as in a bath, or

inhaled from an inhaler or salt lamp. Its versatility provides for its many benefits, ranging from detoxification,

reducing muscle cramps, allergies (as an antihistamine) and sinus issues, to balancing pH, hormones, blood

pressure and sugar, and it can even help improve energy and weight loss. Pharmaceutical companies often

proffer these benefits, but at the cost of various side effects.

Alternative medicines might be looked as ineffective, but in the long-run natural remedies can be

more sustainable with fewer drawbacks. The only salt for Tom Brady is Himalayan salt, and going on 40, he still

sets records and has youthful good looks (Lee, 2017). They say "you are what you eat" because the body uses

what it consumes to sustain itself and make new cells. Food can literally be poison or medicine, so it's good to

question which salt or snack is being ingested. Himalayan salt lamps, inhalers , and neti pots can help clear up

sinus ailments during the cold and allergy seasons. Treatment with salt is called halotherapy, and interestingly,

the prefix "halo" refers to salt in Greek. An amazing form of this therapy is speleotherapy, which utilizes the ion

rich air in salt caves or mines to treat respiratory conditions. Salt caves are not a foreign rarity, and can be

found in this very state. The Saltana Cave in Ridgefield, Connecticut welcomes sightseers and individuals

looking to benefit from salt therapy. We learn new things every day, like being salty can be therapeutic.

Being salty is heart healthy

as sodium helps in regulating

blood volume and pressure


Most people have a friend who has suffered

multiple head injuries. They might have played a

contact sport in high school or worked in a job

where there is a high risk of injury. Usually, we do

not think too much more about it than that.

Concussions feel like a normal part of growing up,

and it almost seems odd if someone hasn’t ever

gotten one. In fact, the University of Pittsburgh

Brain and Spine Injury Program reported that “in

the United States, the annual incidence of sportsrelated

concussion is estimated at 300,000”(5).

This number is staggering, and explains why

concussions seem like such a commonplace in

our society. However, what is not often discussed

is the ramifications of this high incidence. In

recent years, brain injuries have become

increasingly prevalent in the media. In 2015, a

high-profile court case against the National

Football League (NFL) caught the attention of the

nation.

Over 5,000 former football players sued the NFL on

the grounds that repeated head injuries during

their careers were the cause of more severe

conditions that developed later on in their lives.

Many players were suffering from degenerative

neurological conditions such as amyotrophic

lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease.

Others suffered from chronic depression and

some even committed suicide. The players

asserted that the NFL downplayed the

consequences of repeated concussions. They

ended up winning the case, settling for up to $5

million per player. This case highlights a gravely

concerning attitude that most people have

towards head injuries: that they are ‘no big deal’

and that, beyond a few months of recovery, have

no further implications. However, this is simply

not the case. Mounting evidence from multiple

longitudinal studies of athletes indicate that

repeated head injuries can lead to dysarthria (a

disorder that affects the muscles of the tongue,

jaw, and face) and apraxia (a disorder in which

the patient’s word comprehension is intact, but

formulation is halted in some capacity). Reports

also indicate that repeated concussions lead to

life-long depression (Guskiewicz et al) and can

contribute to onset of ALS and Parkinson’s

disease (Bazarian et al).

When your head collides with something or is

struck with enough force, the brain immediately

activates its protective damage-control

mechanisms. Firstly, the skull provides an

incredibly hard external layer. This can help

prevent an open head injury, in which the skull is

punctured completely (by a piece of shrapnel, or

say, a railroad spike). However, this boney shell

around the brain can sometimes be

counterproductive, as a significant impact could

cause the cortical surface to collide with the

inside of the skull, possibly resulting in lesions,

swelling, and internal bleeding. The meninges,

three layers of protective tissue of the brain,

begin to essentially bruise. If the impact is great

enough, this could potentially cause even more

widespread damage to the neurons, which is seen

most commonly in Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Concussions tend to be less severe, but certainly

result in some degree of damage.


What about Neuroplasticity?

Most people have heard about the concept of neuroplasticity as is applies to language learning and

general human development. The basic idea is that the brain has the capacity to recover and

reorganize after injury. This capacity is vital to the continual functioning of our brain, and aids in

recovery of cerebral function following anything from a concussion to the complete surgical removal

of an entire cerebral hemisphere. Our brain’s ability to carry on is truly astounding, and numerous

studies have been conducted in this area of neuroscience. However, this reorganizational capacity

can only go so far, especially in instances of repeated damage. Although the brain can specialize other

neurons to “pick up” functions that other neurons can no longer perform following damage, once

significant cell death has occurred, the neurons cannot regenerate and those areas are permanently

damaged.

What does it look like when someone

has suffered from repeated head

injuries?

The clinical presentations of someone who has

suffered repeated head injuries varies. It largely

depends on the sight of damage in the brain. Most

frequently, head injuries involve damage to the frontal

or temporal lobes. These are hugely important regions

of the brain that are responsible for several higherorder

functions. The frontal lobe mediates personality,

executive functioning, problem solving, and shortterm

memory. All of these aspects are crucial in

effective communication. Someone who has suffered

repeated neuronal damage to this lobe will have

trouble formulating coherent ideas. They might

struggle to come up with words, forget what they are

trying to say, and spend a lot of time getting their

ideas out. This can be frustrating for both the speaker

and the listener, and requires a great deal of patience

from all parties during communication. Damage to

this region could also affect the musculature of

speech, leading to dysarthria and potentially other

neurodegenerative disorders (such as Parkinson’s

disease and ALS). In this case, prosody- the rhythm of

speech, so to speak- is affected. The individual might

have slow, slurred speech that is difficult to

understand. They might pronounce things incorrectly

as a result of not being able to properly coordinate the

muscles of their jaw and tongue. Repeated

concussions that result in significant damage to the

temporal lobe severely affects communication, as this

region houses the primary cortical areas for

processing speech and language. Damage here could

result in difficulty with verbal expression and/or the

ability to understand speech.

Why should you care?

For these reasons, any kind of head injury should

not be taken lightly, whether it is a minor

concussion or a full-blown TBI. If the brain is

damaged, its plasticity can only go so far.

Repeated damage and cell necrosis will make it

even harder for the brain to recover, especially

for those who are reaching the end of

adolescence and nearing the end of their brain’s

development. While the immediate effects of

repeated brain damage might not be as obvious

as the tremors associated with Parkinson’s

disease or the dysfunction of muscle

coordination in cerebral palsy, they can still have

a huge impact on the everyday life of those

affected. Not being able to make quick decisions,

struggling to remember basic information, and

having to adapt to changing situations are all

characteristic symptoms of individuals who have

suffered multiple head injuries. But these are all

easily written off as the individual being

“forgetful”, “lazy”, or “slow”. It is time for us to

look at the real consequences of repeated head

injury and take them seriously.

N O M A D I C | 2 4


HOW

PRIMITIVE

ARE WE?

Are we really a unique, highly evolved “human”

species, far from primitive Neanderthals, or are

we more alike than previously thought? As much

as 2.6% of modern human DNA was contributed

by Neanderthals, our closest extinct relative. Utilizing

modern genomic sequencing techniques

allows us to trace human evolution and pinpoint

when the “primitive cavemen” turned into “modern”

humans.

Written By: Jenny Weiss | Designed By: Shemona Singh

5 MILLION YEARS AGO

Homo erectus

migrated into East

and West Asia

4 MILLION YEARS AGO

Genus Australopithecus

appeared on African

savannahs

5 MILLION YEARS AGO

Group of early “proto-human”

species

emerged

7 MILLION YEARS AGO

The first hominids

appeared in Africa


Around 7 million years ago,

the first hominids (a group including humans

and their extinct ancestors or relatives) appeared

in Africa, having diverged from ancestral

primates. Ardipithecus , a group of early

“proto-human” species that lived around 5

million years ago, reflected characteristics

of both primates and humans, combining

tree-climbing with elements of upright walking.

The genus Australopithecus , (of which

the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs), appeared

on African savannahs between 4 and

2.5 million years ago.

These species pioneered bipedalism,

allowing for the development of more advanced

brains and behaviors. After the extinction

of the Ardipithecus and Australopithecus

groups, the genus Homo appeared in

Africa. Large brains, fully bipedal movement,

stone tool-making, and complex social groups

allowed this genus to thrive and evolve into

increasingly human-like species. Homo erectus

, the first hunter-gatherer, migrated into

East and West Asia between 1.8 million and

143,000 years ago. Homo heidelbergensis

hunted large prey with spears, and built sturdy

shelters. This was also the first species that distinctly

utilized fire for survival in cold environments.

Three distinct species evolved from

Homo heidelbergensis : Homo neanderthalensis

, Homo sapiens, and a third mysterious

group known as the “Denisovans”. Homo

neanderthalensis and the Denisovans moved

throughout Eurasia, while Homo sapiens

remained in Africa. Homo neanderthalensis

emerged in Europe and moved through Asia

between 400,000 and 40,000 years ago, and

was highly social and incredibly proficient in

hunting large prey. Short, sturdy bodies and

thick bones helped with retaining heat in cold

regions, and allowed for powerful movement.

They mastered the use of weapons

and tools, made clothing, shelters, and ornamental

objects, and practiced complex

burials. Homo sapiens appeared in Africa

200,000 years ago, emerging at roughly the

same time that Homo erectus and Homo

heidelbergensis disappeared. Agile, smarter,

dexterous, socially sophisticated, and well

adapted for running, Homo sapiens quickly

flourished as other species slowly disappeared.

Around 70,000 years ago, groups of

Homo sapiens moved from Africa into Europe

and Asia (and eventually spread to Australia

and the Americas). The overlap between

Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens

often led to intense competition, interbreeding

and possible warfare, and contributed to

the decline and eventual extinction of Homo

neanderthalensis.

Early humans, thousands

of years ago

Neanderthal DNA is extracted from

ancient bone fragments often found in burial

sites located in caves and mountain regions

throughout Eurasia. Of the discovered fragments,

genetic information is scarce, due

to protein degradation over time. Because

of this, only two separate Neanderthal individuals

have been found with completely

intact genomes. However, the DNA that has

been found reflects fascinating interactions

between humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans.

DNA quenced from Neanderthal individuals

found in Siberia, Croatia, and Spain have

suggested multiple waves of interspecies

breeding. Researchers from the Max Planck

Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in

Leipzig, Germany proposed the following

theory based on genetic evidence; Homo

sapiens emerged in Africa 200,000 years ago,

with some groups moving into Eurasia. One

expanding group mated with Homo Neanderthalensis

from Middle Eastern regions


around 125,000 years ago. Although this

specific lineage went extinct, their mixed DNA

survived in other Neanderthals who traveled

across Eurasia, eventually settling in Siberia.

During this time, more Homo sapiens moved

from Africa 60,000 to 50,000 years ago, and

interbred again with these dispersed Neanderthal

groups. Humans traveling East also

briefly mixed with Denisovans in Asia. In short,

modern humans interbred three times with

non-human relatives, contributing non-human

DNA to the modern human genome.

“Short, sturdy bodies and

thick bones allowed for

powerful movement. “

DNA evidence indicates that during the

tenuous time Homo neanderthalensis and

Homo sapiens coexisted throughout Europe

and Asia, interbreeding occurred between

the species. While outright warfare between

the two groups could explain the extinction

of Homo neanderthalensis , interbreeding

suggests that dwindling populations became

absorbed into Homo sapiens . Modern DNA

sequencing techniques have revealed that

1.8% to 2.6% of modern human DNA in individuals

of Eurasian descent comes from

Neanderthals. People of African descent carry

significantly less Neanderthal DNA, since

African populations and Neanderthals occupied

geographically separate regions, making

contact unlikely.

pathogens encountered during movement

into Europe and Asia. By interbreeding,

genetic resistance that Neanderthals accumulated

over hundreds of years could be

transferred into human populations. Not surprisingly,

the majority of Neanderthal-based

genes are found in regions of DNA that code

for immune response to pathogens. Increased

blood clotting may also stem from Homo neanderthalensis

, which could have helped with

recovery from injuries while hunting. Lighter

skin (resulting from reduced concentration

of the pigment melanin) allows for increased

absorption of sunlight and higher rates of

vitamin D synthesis, a useful trait in regions far

from the equator where periods of daylight

are shorter and less intense. Neanderthal DNA

sequences contain mutations in melanin production

similar to humans, suggesting that as

humans developed unique mutations, Neanderthal

influences would have strengthened

their prevalence in interbreeding populations.

Although we are genetically different

from Homo neanderthalensis , interaction

between our species may have resulted in

better adapted offspring with beneficial variations

in immune function, skin pigmentation,

and LDL cholesterol accumulation. By tracing

our origins through interactions with other

human-like species, we can better understand

what makes us “human”, and how we are essentially

“cavemen” in digital times.

We can learn a great deal

from studying our past

Best adapted for cold weather climates,

Neanderthals may have contributed genes

that significantly improved early humans’

chances of survival. Neanderthal genetic variants

that promote the buildup of LDL cholesterol

(the “bad” cholesterol, which can lead to

heart attacks) may have helped fat accumulation

that insulates human bodies in cold, harsh

climates they encountered during expansion

from Africa. for immune response to pathogens.

Another vital contribution to the human

genome was immune resistance to new


Got

Drugs?

Neuropsychopharmacology

Does!

Written by: Greta Johnson

Designed by: Apoorva Kulkarni

?I took a pill in Ibiza? sang Mike Posner

(2015). Well, depending on what pill Posner

took, the action of the pill could vary! Perhaps

it inhibits enzymatic inactivation of a neurotransmitter,

like marijuana, or perhaps it was a

neurotransmitter release stimulator, like

methamphetamine, or maybe it stimulated the

synthesis of dopamine, such as L-DOPA. Who

knows? Regardless, the mechanism of action

of drugs is fascinating. There is a class at

UConn offered solely about drugs and their

effects on behavior, appropriately named

?Drugs and Behavior?, and all the information

in this article is from materials presented in

that class by Dr. John Salamone.

What exactly is a drug? A drug is any

form of ingestion/injection that can induce

some sort of side effect, whether it be physiological

and/or psychological; it usually ends up

being both. The study of drugs and behavior is

called ?neuropsychopharmacology.?

There are various neurotransmitters in

the brain that communicate with other neurons

in the brain. Neurotransmitter release in

cells are triggered by a phenomenon called

?action potentials? and action potentials are

the electrical signals in a cell. Drugs usually

impact the brain by acting on various parts of

chemical neurotransmission. There are five

stages of chemical neurotransmission, synthesis,

storage, release, postsynaptic effect, and

inactivation.

Many drugs act on synthesis of neurotransmitters.

An example of a drug that acts

on neurotransmitter synthesis is a drug called

?L-DOPA.? L-DOPA is a precursor for the syn-

Mike Posner (2015). I Took a Pill in Ibiza. On At Night, Alone [CD]. United States: Island. (2014).


thesis of dopamine. Dopamine is depleted in

patients with Parkinson?s, and L-DOPA can be

given to them for alleviation of their Parkinson?s

symptoms. Another drug that stimulates

synthesis of neurotransmitters is a drug called

?alpha- methyl dopa?, which is used for treatment

of high blood pressure.

Before neurotransmitters are released,

they need to be stored. Many antipsychotic

drugs are used to treat schizophrenia, and

they work by blocking transporters that take

drugs to be stored. Since they block storage,

they deplete the postsynaptic receptor of

neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine,

epinephrine, and serotonin.

Neurotransmitters being released, as

already mentioned, are triggered by an action

potential. Action potentials allow calcium to

enter the terminal, and this influx of calcium

induces effect of neurotransmitters. ADHD

drugs, like methylphenidate (Ritalin), and amphetamines

actually work by releasing

dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, or

serotonin into the synapse: they have a lot of

potential to be abused.

Postsynaptic effect has a huge impact on an

individual. Basically, postsynaptic effect receptor

activation is linked to metabotropic

channels, meaning it leads to secondary pathways.

It can essentially lead to ?long term

changes in gene expression in a neuron? (Salamone,

2016), in which case, a lot of things

could change in an individual. Alcohol and

marijuana are examples of drugs that affect

postsynaptic effect.

Inactivation of neurotransmitters is

done by enzymes that break down the neurotransmitter

into smaller substances that are

then recycled. An example of a drug that inhibits

inactivation of neurotransmitters is

Cognex, a drug used to treat Alzheimer?s disease.

A few other common examples of drugs

that block inactivation are cocaine, various

amphetamines, and Prozac (an

antidepressant).

The action of the drugs obviously goes

much deeper than this, this is barely skimming

the surface. It is a very fascinating subject, as

there are various types of drugs, various effects

and side effects, and various diseases to

treat with a simple concoction. As for neuropsychopharmacology,

the possibilities are

endless.

Salamone, J. (2016).Drugs and Behavior First Half 2017 SPRING for POSTING.[PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from lms.uconn.edu


V I D E O G A M E

C O N C E P T S I N O U R

W O R L D :

OVERWATCH,

BIOSHOCK,

AND THE

LAST OF US

B y : C a m i l l e K r e s e l

D e s i g n e d b y : S a n j a n a a S u s h a n t h


A Taste of our

Written by: Nathalia Hernandez

Designed by: Apoorva Kulkarni

Ecosystem

How are we expected to thrive when the

ecosystem around us is suffering a slow and

painful death? The organisms around us are

modifying and so we, too, need to open our eyes,

and alter alongside the earth. This is one of several

issues that the human population is facing and

should be aware of.

One of which you may have already noticed here in

the Northeast: there have been warmer days this

past winter season than actual snow days. In

addition, sea levels are rising especially in the

Northeast due to increased global warming

emissions in larger cities. Though we may enjoy the

warm weather in the middle of winter, it can

reduce crop yield in the agricultural business,

increase rainfall and flooding, and put a strain on

human health through air pollution. RGGI (Regional

Greenhouse Gas Initiative) is taking action and

trying to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide

emissions in the Northeast, and should not

be overlooked simply because college

students in the Northeast enjoy 70 degree

weather while walking to class. Although we

may enjoy walking to class in sunny weather,

we should also understand that food

availability, air conditions, and rising sea

levels are critical issues that cannot be

ignored.


The Great Barrier Reef is only one of the many

ecological victims of our drastic climate change. Over

25 million years old, this reef in Queensland,

Australia is slowly depleting before our eyes.

However, it is not too late. There are several actions

we can take to revive and protect this coral reef

ecosystem that tourists love to snorkel in. More than

just a tourist attraction, The Great Barrier Reef is a

home to ?134 species of sharks and rays, six of the

world's seven species of threatened marine turtles,

and more than 30 species of marine mammals,

including the vulnerable dugong?(World Wildlife,

Date). Unfortunately, the destruction of this

beautiful coral reef is caused by nearby garbage

disposals, bleaching, fishing, and emission of fossil

fuels that threaten both the flora and fauna of this

diverse ecosystem; however, it is not dead yet, and

there are programs enacted to try to recover this

important ecosystem.

Some well known endangered animals include the blade horned chameleon, pacific bluefin tuna,

bumblebees, american eel, kaputar pink slug, and the chinese cobra. Also, the amur leopard is

endangered with only about 35 species left in the wild. The decrease in numbers for such

animals can be caused by factors such as habitat loss, illegal poaching and hunting, and climate

change. Each of these species are being watched over by organization such as U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund, and many more. Monitoring and placing laws to stop

poaching and other forms of ecological destruction serves a critical role in the preservation and

protection of species on this Earth.

These are just some topics that are up to further discussion in our environmental ecosystem,

but there are a plethora of more issues. The human society should use the power of the media

to express the need for the care of Earth. The reality is that organisms are dying at the hands of

mankind, and our eyes should be opened. We must serve as advocates for animals because they

have no voice or influence on our political climate. As humans, we should live mindful of the fact

that we share this planet with thousands of organisms that deserve our respect and kindness.


Mind-Body

Practices

Proves Benefits For Breast

Cancer Patients

Written by: Emma Atkinson

Designed by: Divya Ganugapati


The year 2016 saw approximately 246,660

new cases of breast cancer, with an

estimated 40,450 deaths during the same

year, which accounted for 6.8 % of all cancerrelated

deaths in the United States1. In

accordance with these results, the S.E.E.R

Research group, funded by the National

Cancer institute, published a study of the

number of new breast cancer cases and

deaths per every 100,000 females, years later

in 2016. Results of this study are illustrated in

Figure 1. This figure reveals that although the

cancer-related deaths have decreased over

the past 20 years, this decline is small enough

that it can almost be considered negligible in

nature. In parallel, the graph of the new cases

show to have a very unstable relationship,

and proves to have no improvement or

decline in the amount of breast cancer cases

being discovered each year.

Regardless of these troubling statistics, there is

still one positive that can be derived from these

numbers, and that is the tiny ratio of deaths to

new cases being diagnosed. Out of all new

cases diagnosed in 2016, only 16.4 percent

resulted in loss of life. The state of the art

technology and cutting edge research is a

trademark of the entirety of the current decade,

and has enable researchers, scientists, and

medical professionals, globally, to produce

thousands of studies, pharmaceutical remedies,

and new treatment methods that has helped to

keep this percentage, constant and miniscule.

The reality we have come to face in the field of

oncology is as simple as this: There may not be

a set treatment, but people are being diagnosed,

people are surviving and people are recovering,

all enabled by our immense advances in

modern medicine and the research that this

institution is built on. Nonetheless, these

technological milestones cannot defend and

protect against all detriments of a breast cancer

diagnosis.

Figure 1. The study published in 2016 by the S.E.E.R

Research group, presented the number of breast cancer

diagnoses and cancer deaths per 100,000 US females.

Although modern research, technologies and

advancements have helped to dramatically

increase life span, quality of life, and survival rates

amongst those diagnosed with breast cancer, it

has proven much harder to treat and eventually

prevent other biological and psychosocial

symptoms and side effects one may contract

during an ordeal as such. One of the most

common and prevalent side effects amongst

women undergoing treatment for breast cancer

is high blood pressure (hypertension), since it has

been known to interrupt the treatment of the

cancer. (REF). According to Dr. Benjamin

Sussman of the CTCA of Philadelphia, “High

blood pressure can be a common side effect of

cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy and

targeted therapies…some chemotherapy agents

are worse offenders than others, such as

angiogenesis inhibitors, alkylating agents and

immunosuppressant drugs after stem cell

transplantation.” Additionally, some hormone

therapies (e.g., Arimidex®, Aromasin®) can cause

high blood pressure” (Sussman 2001). The multifaceted

nature of this condition proves not only

hard to treat, but hard to maintain in times like

these. In cases of women with breast cancer, a

concoction of the essential prescriptions,

treatments, and the stress and anxiety that is

correlated with this illness, there is a multitude of

factors and perpetrators that could be used to

explain the increase in blood pressure.


Amidst findings as inconclusive and troubling as

these, it is undeniable that there needs to be an

alternative treatment method found for the high

reactivity and instability of breast cancer

treatment drugs. Nonetheless, there has been

increasing interest and attention being called to

the use of Mindfulness Stress-Based Reduction

Programs (MBSR’s) as a solution to this problem.

MBSR’s, such as yoga, reiki, and meditation have

been historically known to have a plethora of

benefits, such as increasing blood flow to the body,

decreasing blood pressure and stress levels, and

combat states of depression and anxiety. Since

these practices

have been known

to relieve

symptoms such as

blood pressure and

high stress

these practices have been known to relieve

symptoms such as high blood pressure and

height stress levels, there is a growing body of

evidence that is forming, supporting the

potential connection between MBSR’s and

positive mental health and physiological

outcomes in breast cancer patients and

survivors. In support of this idea, many authors

currently publishing papers on the subject, are

open encouraging and inviting further research

and studies to help gain momentum, credibility

and recognition for this ground-breaking new

treatment. There is therefore, an increased

need to systematically review this literature in

order to better inform future interventions and

outreach programs in clinical settings aimed at

improving recovery outcomes and treatment

for breast cancer patients and survivors. In

response to these invitations by other

established authors, the proposed study looks

to extend on the research being done currently,

by using a systematic review and a metaanalysis

to explore the potential benefits of

using MBSR’s to facilitate, and treat patients

with breast cancer.


OUT OF

THIS WORLD

Written By: Heather Lewis | Designed By: Shemona Singh

Do you ever wonder just how big our universe is?

Think about it. Knowing what is out there is only

limited by the technology that we have now

and the light years that have reached the farthest

distance. Our universe is also constantly

expanding. And how do we know this?! Math

and science! Each and every year we are discovering

more and more of what surrounds

our planet. Just last year, scientists at NASA

found that an asteroid had made its way into

the Earthʼs orbit, practically mimicking a second

moon. However, it is significantly smaller than

our moon and our satellites orbiting the Earth,

so it is not predicted that we will be able to land

on it anytime soon. Another discovery that has

been made in the past year is

that there are over ten

times more galaxies

than previously

estimated.

With the

“What else

is out there?”

Hubble telescope, astronomers found that what

we previously thought were large galaxies actually

were made up of many smaller galaxies.

It is thought that over 90% of our universe is yet

to be discovered.

Additionally, scientists have viewed what appears

to be plumes of water erupting from one

of Jupiterʼs moons, Europa, through the Hubble

telescope. These plumes would provide an easy

accessway to Europaʼs ocean, which is thought

to hold twice as much water as Earthʼs oceans.

The ocean is located below miles of ice so this

form of access will allow scientists to sample the

ocean water more easily, and test for the potential

to hold life. NASA is hoping to get a satellite

to orbit Europa by 2020.

What if our universe is actually just a circle with

a black hole in the middle and the only way we

can see the other side is to travel around it? It

would be like a universe donut! This would be

due to an abundance of dark matter, which is

matter that has the ability to bend light. However,

it has not been confirmed that dark matter

exists due to its complexity. But there is evidence

of a particle consisting of very similar characteristics

to those of dark matter. What else is out

there? Aliens? Water?

The past year has led to many discoveries,

although many of them are only predictions

for now. Who knows, maybe this year those

predictions will be proven true.


SILVER

LINING

W R I T T E N B Y : S A Y E D A N A J A M U S S A H A R P E E R Z A D E

D E S I G N E D B Y : D I V Y A G A N U G A P A T I


The rabies virus, infamous for killing beloved Old Yeller, is deadly because of its

dangerously efficient method of attacking the central nervous system and the brain.

As scary as the rabies virus is, it is admirable because it is one of the few that is able

to penetrate the fortified blood brain barrier. The Lee lab saw this deadly

mechanism as a silver lining. They used nanogold particles to mimic the shape of

the rabies virus in order to bypass the blood brain barrier and target tumors.

The blood brain barrier is one of the biggest obstacles for neurological treatments.

The same mechanism meant to protect the precious brain serves as one of the

biggest obstacles for medical treatments. Around “98% of small molecules as well as

colloidal-sized particles are restricted from entry into the brain”. This is one of the

biggest obstacles physicians face when trying to treat brain tumors. When faced

with such a daunting challenge, the Lee Lab turned to naturally occurring breaches

of the BBB. That is when they came across the silver lining of rabies. The rabies

virus has many proteins that surround its outer body but one specific protein, the

rabies virus glycoprotein (RVG), allows the virus to use neural pathways, travel to

the CNS, and cross the blood brain barrier. Thus, they decided to create a

nanoparticle that would be coated with RVG which would allow it to pass through

the BBB and target brain tumors.

Now that they knew what the outside of the nano particle should be, they had to

figure out what the inside material should be. The material needed to be inorganic,

flexible, and unique photothermal properties. An inorganic substance was needed so

that it would be inert and would not react with the other biomaterials in the body. In

regards to structure, there are many factors that influence the uptake and

biodistribution of nanoparticles inside the body like charge, shape, size, etc.

However, “particle shape is considered to be one of the most powerful tools for

enhancing nanoparticle internalization”. Thus, flexibility was important because

different shapes and configurations of the nanoparticles needed to be tested. The

material of choice also had to have photothermal properties because the plan was to

have the nanoparticle pass the BBB and then use a laser to activate the nanoparticles

only in the region of the brain tumor. This was crucial because, in theory, when the

nanoparticles are released into the bloodstream, they are going to be found


throughout the body and the brain. Thus, the nanoparticles either had to be made so

that they targeted just the tumor or they had to be made so that they could be

anywhere but would only activate when in the tumor region. The latter would be

much easier because it is often hard to differentiate between a tumor cell and a

regular cell using proteins. Thus, having unique photothermal properties would

allow the nanoparticle to overheat when target with a laser and burn the tumor

tissue around it.

The material that best fitted the job

description was gold. Gold is a flexible

inorganic metal that is inert and nontoxic.

Gold also has unique photothermal

properties. It has a very high rate of

absorption: ~105 times conventional dyes. In

addition to having high absorption which

allows for better imaging, gold can increase

from a range of 10 oC to 1000 oC. This

property is important because it needs to be

able to heat up enough to kill the tumor cells

surrounding it. Luckily, some studies show

that tumor cells are more susceptible to damage due to heat than regular cells.It is

also generates a strong the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) when in

presence of near infrared light (NIR) which is a bunch of fancy words for allows for

better imaging when certain wavelengths of light interact with it. This allows for

better data analysis and tracking of what the nanogold rods are doing in the brain.

Even better, gold has a strong LSPR in the “wavelength range of 700–950 nm

(maximally 1200 nm), which is the best spectral region for imaging and therapy due

to the so-called “water window” of all aqueous tissues”. It is important to note that

this ideal wavelength is only possible when the gold is molded into rods and not

spheres. This ends up being ideal because they are trying to mimic rabies virus

which is “bullet-like shape with one rounded end and one planar end”. It is also very

helpful that the absorption range of gold can be adjusted by changing the aspect

ratio of the gold rods which will allows room for experimentation to find the shape

that can heat up the most and be efficiently internalized. After trying different

aspect ratios, it was experimentally determined that the optimal ratio for the rods

was 2.34 (~120 nm in length and ~50 nm in width) which is very similar to that of the

rabies virus. This shape combined with the RVG protein coating allowed the gold


nanorods to mimic the rabies virus. Experimentally, it was shown that gold

nanorods that had the RVG protein coating and the specific aspect ratio were more

present in spinal and brain cells than regular gold nanorods.

Now that the ideal structure was determined, the theory was put to the test. Male

mice were injected with N2a cells - tumor cells. The N2a cells were injected outside

the brain and inside the brain. This means that some were injected onto the right

dorsal side of the mouse and some were injected into the striatum of the brain. This

was done in order to test for the effectiveness of the RVG treated gold nanorods on

general tumor cells and then specifically on tumor cells in the brain. Next, some

mice were injected with plain gold nanorods while others were injected with RVG

gold nanorods. Finally, the tumor cells were irradiated with an 808 nm laser. It is

important to note that the laser itself did not cause any damage to the skin or induce

any tumor suppression.

The results were very promising. The results showed that RVG treated gold

nanorods were able to greatly decrease the size of tumors that were present on the

side flank of the mice (not in the brain) when compared to the using regular gold

nanorods or saline. In fact, a couple of the mice had tumors that completely went

away and minimal skin damage, due to the treatment, was healed within thirteen

days. After seeing preliminary success outside the brain, the real test was

conducted. It was the moment of truth. We knew that the RVG gold nanorods can

greatly decrease tumors however, would they be able to overcome the abominable

BBB and have an impact on the tumor cells?


Benefits of

Written by: Allison Tozzi

Designed by: Apoorva Kulkarni

Bilingual Br ains

Hablo varios idiomas. Je parle plusieurs langues. Ich spreche mehrere Sprachen.

Parlo più lingue.

I speak multiple languages. If you were able to read two or more of the previous

sentences, you would be able to consider yourself multilingual. This concept is

seen in every corner of the world, with over 50% of the Earth?s population

exhibiting this characteristic (Grosjean, 2012). There?s a big push for

monolingual people to learn an additional language (or two), but not for the

reasons you may think. Besides making a person appear more intelligent and well-versed,

multilingualism has major benefits on the brain and its overall health. Studies have compared brain

activity of monolingual and multilingual participants, and the results found that brains that spend

time deciphering two or more languages have physiological bonuses, not just societal. Brains busy

with constantly interchanging languages on a daily basis seem better off academically, socially, and

cognitively.

FACT OR FICTION?

Children that grow up learning two languages at the same time often confuse

the two, which ultimately is a detriment to their cognitive abilities.

FICTION

It is proven that bilingualism does not do damage one?s cognitive abilities, but

rather strengthens them. Switching between languages strengthens the

brain?s flexibility in thinking and executive control.


FACT OR FICTION?

The academic problems some children of

immigrant families in the United States

face are due to learning disabilities, since

they can understand English enough to

get by.

FICTION

Learning disabilities and differences in

languages are two completely separate

things. Sure, it would be hard for anyone

to be immersed in an English-speaking

classroom when he or she only speaks

French, but this doesn?t mean a disability

is present.

Multilinguals are known for exhibiting a phenomenon called

code switching. This is when people switch between languages

within sentences when they are speaking. This ?switching?has

been proven to enhance executive control, meaning one?s ability

to plan and execute tasks (Bialystok,et al, 2012). Studies have

found that even in situations where strictly only one language

was required, the brain was constantly referencing the other

language. Where things can go awry is when attention comes

into play. Monolingual speakers only have one ?database?to

reference in linguistic processing, but bilinguals have two

continually competing with each other, which can complicate

problem solving and decision making. ?This may be the most

difficult of all the selection challenges because it is possible for

both languages to satisfy a wide range of criteria for the intended

utterance, the only difference being determined by the social

context,?(Bialystok, 2012). Despite this minor setback,

multilinguals have outperformed monolinguals in many areas

and tasks from early childhood to late adulthood.

For many young multilingual speakers, they acquire

one language at home and the other through education

at school. In contrast, there is a big population of

monolingual children being taught a second language in

a bilingual setting. There are cognitive, social,

emotional, health, familial, and educational benefits that

come along with learning multiple languages at an early

age. It has been found that bilinguals have increased

protection against memory loss, Alzheimer?s Disease,

and dementia, while also exhibiting decreased levels of

anxiety and poor self-esteem (Benson). Bilingual

education also brings in cultural and societal factors,

like whether or not parents want their children to be

learning Hindi, Spanish, or Chinese. Immigrant parents

who are deeply rooted in their native culture may be

thrilled about their children continuing to speak their

native and first language, while, on the other hand,

some parents may prioritize assimilation for their

children and make them only speak English. These

factors, aside from possible health benefits of

multilingualism, can be just as important or more

important for people making major life changes that

will affect their culture, family, and education in the

future.

FACT OR FICTION?

Bilingual education has been proved to slow the

learning process in students.

FICTION

This just isn?t the case. Lytle makes a comparison

between solving math problems and the ways bilinguals

take advantage of their two languages. ?? you have to

think about different ways you might solve a problem,

in the same way if you?re growing up in a bilingual

household you need to think of different words? if you

can?t activate a word in one language, you need to think

of a different way to describe the word,? (Benson).


FACT OR FICTION?

Like other systems in our bodies,

there is a finite window of time

during childhood where we are most

susceptible to lingual input, thus

making it the prime time to learn

language (Arnold).

FACT

FACT

This phenomenon is called a critical

period. It occurs in language

acquisition, eyesight, hearing, motor

function, and many other systems in

the human body.

FACT OR FICTION?

The amount of time a person takes

to learn a language is directly

related to exposure to that

language.

FICTION

Yes, exposure helps, but learning a

language and being able to speak it

well is dependent on when you start

and the amount of ?comprehensible

input? we receive (Center for

Second Language Research).

The true definition of multilingualism, by Webster?s, is ?using or

able to use several languages especially with equal fluency.?(FACT)

- The key here is ?with equal fluency.? I am a native English

speaker, who learned Spanish starting in seventh grade and is

now minoring in it here at UConn. I have been studying Spanish

and speaking it for eight or so years now, and I consider myself

nowhere near fluent. Fluent means knowing every word for

everything as my senior year high school Spanish teacher

explained when he pointed to the comfy desk chair wheels and

asked me what I would call that in Spanish.

This year, I have been fortunate enough to work in a research lab

on campus that combines two of my passions: speech and

Spanish. I have been working with Dr. Adrián García-Sierra and

our lab team in analyzing data on monolingual and bilingual

speakers and differences in their speech perception and

production. We look at how babies with bilingual parents perceive

both languages and how they can detect differences between

them. We interpreted a set of graphs (figure 1) showing that

bilingual speakers of Spanish and English at 30 months produce

more words (combined in both languages) than monolingual

English speakers of the same age. These two graphs work in

tandem to depict how bilingual brains generally learn more words

(around 750 by 30 months) than solely English speakers (around

600 words). Yes, this is a combined amount between English and

Spanish in this case, but it is pretty impressive for a young toddler

to be able to differentiate between the phonemic, morphological,

grammatical, and semantic differences (and also the difficulties

associated with parents?accents). Our lab is one of many around

the world that focuses on language acquisition and bilingualism in

this way, and we are just scraping the surface of our

understanding of the brain and its endless capabilities.

References

Bialystok, E. (2011). Reshaping the Mind:

The Benefits of Bilingualism.Canadian

Journal of Experimental Psychology =

Revue Canadienne de Psychologie

Experimentale,65(4), 229?235.

http://doi.org/10.1037/a0025406

Arnold, Shanti. (n.d).Common Myths

About Bilingualism.Myths about

Bilingualism, Multilingual Societies, and

Language Rights. Hawai?i: Hawai'i Council

for Second Language Research.

Benson, John. (2013). Bilingual Education

Holds Cognitive, Social And Health

Benefits (INFOGRAPHIC). The Huffington

Post.

Grosjean, Francois, Ph.D. (2012). How

Many Are We? Psychology Today.


A C A D E M I C

E N H A N C E R S

Written by: Julia Colliton

Designed by: Divya Ganugapati


In the past years, it is understood that drug culture is an essential part to the full

college experience. The time that young adults spend in the microcultures of green

quads and large lecture halls is heavily intertwined with drugs. According to the

National Institute of Drug Abuse, daily marijuana use among college students has

increased in the population from 3.7% in 1995 to 4.6% in 2015. As well as, a directly

proportional increase in binge drinking among the college students recorded at 31.9%

in 2015, with only 23.7% of student of college age not attending school (Drug, 2016).

These values suggest that the college lifestyle acts as a catalyst for drug use

behavior which is now linked to those who are now common offenders or drug

abusers. The focus should be redirected away from the common offenders to the

psychological and physiological consequences of the recreational drugs.

70%

of college students using drugs

do so to improve attention

A new group of drugs called academic enhancers are dominating college campuses.

The drug culture of college students is changing from just doing drugs for fun and now

letting the influence seep into the classroom. Students use this advantage to take

chemicals to seek academic excellence. According to the American Psychological

Association, Adderall and Ritalin came on the scene in the late 1990s and have been a

drug of choice among students more and more each year (2). In 2005, only 6.9% of

students from a representative sample of 119 colleges and universities had used

Ritalin, Dexedrine or Adderall without a prescription (2). Sounds like a fairly small

number, right? It is important to point out that figure is an average because some

schools recorded 0% but some schools recorded as high as 25% (2). One fourth of

students had admitted to using an academic stimulant without a prescription, a

chemical that only came into play less than 20 years ago at the time of the study. The

APA attempted to explain the popularity of these drugs, explaining that in the

traditional drug culture, students used drugs as a means of escape. Now, 70% of

students claim to use these drugs to improve attention and 54% of students say

they are trying to improve study habits. (2) So, yes students are using drugs just a

much, if not more, than they were before. However, is it better that students are

abusing these chemicals to improve their academic performance than as a means of

escape?


The use of drugs to achieve academic excellence is not a universal phenomenon. This

suggests that the more competitive the school, the more susceptible the students

are to use Adderall or Ritalin. Thus it can be hypothesised students feel a need to use

them just to cope with the competitive nature of our society and not as heavily

sought out for pleasure . This hypothesis is widely contested as Nita Farahany, the

director of Duke Science & Society, argues for the use of the drugs or rather the

freedom of choice for college students (Ojiaku, 2015). She states that students

should be able to decide for themselves whether to utilize academic stimulants. By

backing up her argument with the idea that bettering the student's intellectual ability

is beneficial for society as a whole. Contrastingly, Nicole Vincent, associate professor

of philosophy, law and neuroscience at Georgia State University, argues that there is

no proof that there is benefit of using these drugs and that using them to cope with

the competitive nature of society simply perpetuates the problem (Ojiaku, 2015).

The debate between these two professors reveals an interesting interconnection

between choice and coping. Freedom of what we put into our bodies is a heated issue,

and if we say the use of Adderall and Ritalin is the choice of the individual, where is the

line drawn? If these drugs are left to choice, why are college students punished for

using alcohol when under 21 or smoking pot? At the same time, the reason that

students feel the need to turn to drugs in the first place is to escape from the

pressures of society. While the use of academic stimulants are not seen as an escape

a much as drinking or getting high, it is a means of coping with the means of intense

stress college students face in the classroom. That is a socially constructed problem,

and if drugs like Adderall and Ritalin help students survive the environment we force

them into, how can we judge them for striving for success? While it’s easy to get lost

in the debate over this issue, the most important insight may come from the students

themselves.

I took the time to interview two students at the University of

Connecticut, one of whom uses Adderall with a prescription

to treat ADHD and one uses Adderall without a prescription.


Student A: Prescribed User

Q. Why were you prescribed Adderall?

I was prescribed Adderall for my ADHD as well as to treat my Post Concussive Syndrome.

Q. How easy was it for you to get this prescription?

Once I was diagnosed with ADHD, acquiring Adderall was very easy. I was set up with a

medicine provider and she prescribed me Adderall after just a few appointments.

Q. How many times do you use Adderall/what is your

treatment plan?

I use my Adderall as needed, so on days when I’m studying for an exam or if I have a lot of

work to do. I take both extended release and short term release. I usually take 20mg.

Q. Did you see any improvement in your studying when using

the Adderall?

I have always struggled with reading and studying before taking Adderall. Now I am able to

read my textbooks and absorb the content which is incredible for someone with brain

damage and ADHD. My life has changed completely since taking this drug.

Q. Did you see any improvement in your grades in the

coursework you were studying for while on Adderall?

I have always been able to succeed academically before Adderall, but now it is much easier

and less strenuous to get straight A’s.

Q. How competitive would you describe your college

environment?

I would say that it is much more competitive than high school, but I try to compete solely

with myself and not with my peers.

Q. Do you think there’s a difference between using Adderall

and drinking/smoking marijuana? Why?

It is different if you are being prescribed the drug. I take Adderall so I can function at the

same level as everyone else who is not afflicted with attention deficit disorder. Those who

take it recreationally are doing more damage to their bodies than those who simply

drink/smoke. If abused, Adderall can become a dangerous drug.


Q.Do you think people have the right to use Adderall solely for

academic enhancement?

As someone who legitimately needs Adderall to function normally, I would say no. Putting

unnecessary drugs in your body just to get a higher grade seems irresponsible and unsafe. I

think Adderall should be used solely as an ADHD drug. Adderall should be used to level the

playing field rather than used to help some get ahead.

Q. Have you ever felt a negative stigma for using Adderall?

What is the impact for the legitimate prescription use of

Adderall as it is becoming more and more widely abused?

My first day using Adderall, someone asked me if I would be willing to sell them some. I feel

as though I have to defend my diagnosis and prescription every time I take my pills in a

public setting. It’s almost as though taking it recreationally is more common than taking it

as prescribed.

Student B: Non-prescribed User

Q. How easy was it for you to get Adderall?

Very easy, my friend has a prescription for it so she would always just give me some if I

gave her a couple dollars per pill.

Q. How did you get Adderall?

My friend has a prescription.

Q. Did you see any improvement in your studying when using

the Adderall?

It did help me focus so that I was able to study and get work done.

Q. Did you see any improvement in your grades in the

coursework you were studying for while on Adderall?

It didn’t necessarily improve my grades, but it allowed me to focus when I couldn’t bring

myself to study.

Q. How competitive would you describe your college

environment?

Not very competitive. I haven’t felt the need to use Adderall as much in college because I

feel there is less coursework for me to do and I have more time to get motivation naturally

to study.


Q. Do you think there’s a difference between using Adderall

and drinking/smoking marijuana? Why?

There is a definitely a huge difference between the three substances. Marijuana makes

me feel tired and completely unmotivated and seriously lack focus. Alcohol makes it so

it’s very difficult to pay attention to anything and do any work. Adderall helps me focus

and stay on task, but it also gives me a hyper feeling. I don’t feel the need to drink coffee

because I am full of energy. I also have taken Adderall a few times to give myself a boost

of energy and excitement

From these interviews, some interesting dichotomies come forward. First, while both

students said it was relatively easy to acquire the Adderall, it seems the student with

the prescription had to put in more effort. She had to go through multiple

appointments, while the other student buys if off her friend whenever she wants. This

brings up an interesting point that students who actually need the drug have more

barriers to receiving it. Also, both students do not seem to think the competitive

nature of college has an impact on their Adderall use. It seems that competition would

be a strong motivator in student striving for academic excellence, but in reality

students do not need to feel this pressure in order be interested in taking drugs to

better their academic performance. The results about competitiveness may be

different at universities, but this reveals the question why are students using these

drugs? I think the major reason for the rise in academic stimulants is the attitude that

surrounds them. The nonprescription user associates Adderall solely with academic

purposes. Although the use of Adderall remains highly contested, the severity of the

drug seems to be overlooked, which could be detrimental to college students. Not to

say drinking and smoking are any better, but right now a student is probably more

likely to justify ‘popping an addy’ then showing up drunk to class. This may be

justifiable, but we won’t know until we address this issue.

1. Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2015 [Digital image]. (2016, November 3). Retrieved

March 10, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drugalcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2015

Pardon Our Interruption. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

2. Ojiaku, P. (2015, November 3). ‘Smart drugs’ are here — should college students be allowed to use

them? The Washington Post. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/11/03/smart-drugs-are-hereshould-college-students-be-allowed-to-use-them/?utm_term=.577764034031


AMUSICIAN'S

MINDANDTHE

ALTERNATEUSES

OFMUSIC

Written by: Shivani Dave

Designed by: Apoorva Kulkarni

Music is a universal language that anyone

can enjoy. It can be soothing, motivating, and

healing all at once. After taking music lessons

for 8 years and listening to a variety of

genres, I have developed an appreciation for

the dedication and creativity behind making

music. A musician?s brain requires training,

informal or formal, and practice to achieve

the professionalism and confidence to

improvise and create music. But what are the

experiences and structure like of musician

minds that allow music to be so diverse and

popular?

commitment specific parts of the brain

contribute over many years. Even in young

children ages 5 to 7, certain regions of the

brain show distinctions of musical training

compared to the brain regions of nonmusical

children1. After only 15 months of monitored

rhythmic lessons, children developed

changes in multiple areas of the brain,

including the corpus callosum and Heschl?s

gyrus1. Conclusions from studies point

towards the importance of learning music at

a critical age, when the brain is most flexible

for these changes to occur.

As learning music is the acquisition of a

complex skill, it is easy to imagine the

The differences in brain structure seen in

children were also observed in adult


musicians, most of whom have practiced music for

years. Many of the structural differences relate to

the level of experience both the adults and children

have. Each area of the brain contributes to a

different effect and the distinctions seen in

musicians? brains also portrays this. For example,

more gray matter in the Heschl?s gyrus is related to

selective hearing of pitch and tone1. Really, the

effects of early and consistent musical training are

vast, ranging from higher cognitive and auditory

processing to more efficient motor skills1. As a

musician myself, I noticed more dexterity develop

over the years in my left hand despite having a

dominant right hand.

It is important to note, however, that these changes

may not only be the result of musical training but

other factors as well. Nonetheless, music in

combination with predisposed genetic factors and

other environmental factors can help facilitate

positive stimulation in the brain.

While we all appreciate music for its entertainment

purposes, for some music has become a tool for

healing. From personal experience, listening to or

playing music is a method of relieving stress or

diverting my mind from worrying. Not only does it

benefit the musician, but music has also proved to

be an effective form of therapy for patients with

illnesses and mental disorders. In one study using

music therapy as a relaxation method for patients on

ventilators, there was a reduction in the level anxiety

of patients compared to anxiety levels for patients

on ventilators without music2. Over time, the

patients on ventilators who were exposed to music

also showed a decrease in heart rates2. An

interesting observation from this study was the

alignment of heart rate to the rhythm of music. The

study used genres such as classical, new age,

country, western, and religious on the participants.

The calming tones and lyrics in these genres may


have been one of the factors that contributed

to decreased anxiety levels in the patients.

Previous research has also looked at mental

disorders such as the effects of music on individuals

with depression. Four out of five studies resulted in

reduction of symptoms of depression3. The fifth

study used music as an active control treatment

and no reductions in symptoms were shown3.

These are only a handful of studies that I was able

to find on depression alone, but there are studies

where music was able to help improve

communication in children with autism spectrum

disorder4.

Further interesting investigations from these

results would be to analyze how different genres

effects patients using music therapy. I am trained in

classical music and it falls under more mellow

sounds, which I would believe to have a more

calming effect. Even schools use classical music in

classrooms because studies have shown that

stimulates students to focus and reduces anxiety.

The benefits of music are vast, and if the

healing and stimulating properties of music may not

be convincing enough for to pursue lessons, people

can still promote it for the purpose of

entertainment and enjoyment. It is an art that

anyone can partake in and appreciate the benefits

of.

1Barrett KC, Ashley R, Strait DL and Kraus N. (2013) Art and science: how musical

training shapes the brain.Front. Psychol.4:713. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00713

2Chaln L. (2004) Effectiveness of a music therapy intervention on relaxation and

anxiety for patients receiving ventilatory assistance. Heart and Lung: The Journal of

Acute and Critical Care Volume 27, Issue 3, May?June 1998, Pages 169-176.

https://doi.org/10.1016/S0147-9563(98)90004-8.

3Maratos A, Gold C, Wang X, Crawford M. Music therapy for depression. Cochrane

Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004517. DOI:

10.1002/14651858.CD004517.pub2.

4Gold C, Wigram T, Elefant C. Music therapy for autistic spectrum disorder. Cochrane

Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004381. DOI:

10.1002/14651858.CD004381.pub2.


The Big Five

Personality Traits:

Reading People Like

an Open Book:

How Researchers are Linking the Shape

of Your Brain to Your Personality

Written by: Sarah Lukas

Designed by: Divya Ganugapati

When a person claims they can read you like an open

book, what clear observations have you given them to

confidently say such a statement? Reading a person

encompasses using what you see on the outside of an

individual to decipher how they are feeling, their

possible motives, and likely actions. This can be done

by observing body language, facial expressions,

behavior, and by paying attention to key

characteristics. Reading a person is a skill which

comes with practice and experience; not only do so

many factors influence one person, but also, not all

people are as easy to read as others. This process is a

part of the field of psychology. Just recently,

researchers have used the psychological model of the

Big Five to study brain anatomy. With a simple MRI

scan of observing brain measurements due to the

evolution of the brain, genetics, and other

environmental factors, a knowledgeable researcher

can read your personality like an open book without

ever meeting you. This is possible through the

combination of observations made of an individual on

the outside accompanied by what is anatomically

proven on the inside by the brain.

The Big Five personality traits comprise the

dimensions of the human personality broken down

into five major traits that are studied in the research

project Surface-based morphometry reveals the

neuroanatomical basis if the five-factor model of

personality. Researchers Roberta Riccelli, Nicola

Toschi, Salvatore Nigro, Antonio Terracciano, and

Luca Passamonti looked at differences in the brain

cortical anatomy in over 500 healthy individuals. The

brain is measured four different ways, by thickness,

surface area, volume, and folding in different areas of


the brain. The individuals who volunteered were

young healthy men and women ranging from 22 to 36

years old with no record of obesity, hypertension,

alcohol misuse, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

They all went under MRI brain scans and took the

NEO-Five-Factors-Inventory personality assessment.

This assessment is made up of 60 questions, each

question is a description of behavior which is

answered on a five point Likert scale. The results show

that individuals who scored high on neuroticism are

characterized by higher cortical thickness with this

trait having a negative correlation to cortical surface

area and volume. Those who scored higher on

extraversion are linked to higher cortical thickness,

lower surface area and volume in the temporal gyrus

and higher cortical folding. Higher openness scores

are characterized by lower cortical thickness and have

a positive correlation to cortical surface area, volume,

and folding. Those with larger agreeableness scores

have negative associations with cortical thickness,

surface area, and volume. Rather, this trait shows

increased folding in the area of the temporal lobe.

Lastly, individuals whose scores are high in

conscientiousness are connected to higher cortical

thickness, lower surface area, volume, and folding in

specific areas of the brain.

As most of the findings in this study have been in the

cortex, it is helpful to understand that humans have

the most highly evolved cortex, more specifically the

prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain distinguishes

us from apes and other animals by our high level of

social cognitive skills. These skills develop over our

lifetime; for example, as we mature neuroticism

decreases and conscientiousness increases as we are

able to handle our emotions and reactions better. This

is why there is a contrast between thicknesses for

these two traits. However, those that suffer from

mental illnesses will have brain different brain

development and can show pronounced areas of the

cortical regions that connect certain traits to their

mental illness. There are limitations to this new

research but it leads to open doors for mental illness

research and detailed autopsies.

Figure 1. Neural representations of default mode networks exhibiting correlation with

the indicated Big Five traits. Figure taken from Sampaio et al. (2013).


THE PRE-MED “GUNNERS.” YOU MAY HAVE BUMPED INTO THESE PEOPLE BEFORE, SAT IN

CLASS WITH THEM, GRUMBLED AND GRIPED ABOUT THEM, OR EVEN—GASP—BEEN ONE OF

THEM. IT’S A TERM THAT DESCRIBES STUDENTS WHO DEDICATE THEIR ENTIRE COLLEGE

EXISTENCE TO ENHANCING THEIR MEDICAL SCHOOL PROSPECTS, OFTEN AT THE EXPENSE

OF THEIR PEERS, BY FOSTERING A SENSE OF COMPETITION. SURELY, IT’S JUST THEIR

PERSONALITIES THAT PREDISPOSE THESE PEOPLE TO ACT IN SUCH A WAY? IF NOT, THEN IT

MUST BE THE DECIMATING COMPETITION OF MEDICAL SCHOOL ADMISSIONS THAT BREEDS

SUCH BEHAVIOR?


Reducing this “gunner” problem so curtly is

naïve. The underlying issue of even why many

of us feel so put off by the “gunners” is set in

a larger epidemic—one that rises above the

pressures of checking off boxes or crafting a

meticulous resumé—that pervades college

campuses across America. So, how can we

address what I call the “Pre-Med Mentality”—

this gunner mindset?

Before everyone is up in arms about my

critical analysis, I confess that I too am a premed

student. I’ve been guilty of all the things

I’m going to investigate, and I have struggled

to address them myself. I know full well the

burden of preparing for medical school. This

road is not easy, and working to correct the

mindset can be equally challenging. I get it.

But if we are dedicating ourselves to such a

noble profession, I would argue its

preparation must uphold an equally stringent

integrity. I also know pre-med students hail

from all corners of higher education, and I will

operate under the assumption that most of

these students are concentrated in the

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Other

majors and colleges contain pre-med

students, and the following lessons may also

apply to you, though more indirectly.

My encounters with the Pre-Med Mentality

(PMM) began as early as freshman year at

UConn. Growing up as the son of two

immigrants, I learned that a getting an

education—more importantly, a well-rounded

education—was as important as eating,

breathing, and sleeping. So, as a first-year

student I charted a course in liberal arts

education. English literature, economics,

psychology, anthropology, and philosophy

peppered my class schedule between biology,

chemistry, and physics. However, what I

envisioned as “breaks” among my

typical science courses quickly devolved into

“I-don’t-have-time- to-learn-that.” More often

than not, I resented completing my Logic

assignments in lieu of studying for organic

chemistry, which made (funnily enough)

more sense. Sophomore year blurred into

junior year as I struggled to balance my time

examining the scientific world with thinking

about the reasons why it even matters at all.

And, slowly, I realized that my desire to flesh

out my understanding of the world aside

from molecules and proteins had dwindled.

"a liberal arts education builds a

strong foundation for students

to become far better leaders"

I can hear you already saying, “But Matt, I

expect my doctor to be an exquisitely

trained professional. I couldn’t give two

hoots about her ability to understand Plato!”

And to a certain extent, you are right.

Shouldn’t we expect our exorbitantly-paid,

strung-out, supremely educated doctors to

perform at the highest level of clinical care?

I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t be. In

fact, I am arguing precisely in favor of your

sentiment. Medical institutions in other

countries believe in this model so much so

that they take their students straight from

high school. But I believe that a liberal arts

education builds a strong foundation for

students to become far better leaders in

medicine precisely because America prides

itself on a higher education system that

allows its students to formulate a vision of

the world and prepare them to be productive

members in it. To this end, the value of an

education in liberal arts prior to a highly

specialized training in medicine shapes us

into better practitioners, researchers, and

life-long learners.

To better illustrate, consider aspects of a

medical career that don’t immediately come

to mind. Take economics. Medicine in

America is a business, no matter how

obstinately we insist it ‘isn’t about the

money.’ Rather than burying our heads into

the sand, discerning how to run a business


(from a micro and macro standpoint), studying

structures of insurance payments, knowing

organizational models, and balancing

opportunity costs prepares students to take on

the vicissitudes of the biomedical-industrial

complex. With social humanities like

psychology and sociology, knowing how to deal

with people and approach their issues

compassionately is crucial to establishing

robust and meaningful patient-doctor

relationships. Learning about mental health

uncovers the invisible symptoms that can

influence physical manifestations. These

examples demonstrate not only how people

behave but why, bringing to light many

perspectives that can be hidden from the

general population. Furthermore, thinking

about ethics and philosophy is paramount in a

profession that faces ethical dilemmas and

challenges daily. What do you do in a situation

that has no set standards of care? How can you

approach a problem where your decision

impacts another person’s life, but there are no

good options? Why would you opt to do

something or not do something and how can

you justify your actions? These considerations

are important beyond just theoretical musings.

As a final illustration, politics and history help

us scrutinize the bureaucracy of medicine, the

repercussions of social determinants of health,

sharpening skills in health advocacy,

education, communication, and more. It’s hard

to ignore the constant bickering that we hear

from political leadership on the need to

overhaul the health care system. There are

many problems to fix, and (perhaps to our

dismay) science is not always the solution.

Downplaying these aspects of liberal arts, I

believe, is why we have seen a sudden rise in

our “gunner” population. In an increasingly

metric-measured process, things like academic

pressures, hyper-specialization, and a

competitive process breed a culture where

motivated and intelligent students shy away

from such critical components of their

education. What are these barriers to

overcoming the PMM and how can we address

them?

(1) Scheduling problems.

Fitting all of the required pre-med courses

can feel nearly impossible in the four years

of undergrad, let alone when thinking

about volunteering, MCAT, research...the list

never seems to end. However, with gap

years on the rise to accommodate the

mounting expectations from medical

admissions committees, the additional

time might actually be conducive to

scheduling. So, take advantage of the extra

year to explore your passion in human

rights or health psychology. Use your

summer and winter classes to take a

writing course. Beyond just making your

academic profile more interesting to

admissions boards, the demonstrated

interest in non-science curricula will help

form a fuller picture of the people, the

system, and the problems with which you

will work.

(2) GPA stranglehold.

It’s an undiluted fact that successful

medical applicants need a strong GPA. Why

risk a B- in British Literature, when you

could maintain that 3.8 by skipping it

altogether? Why not take the easiest

electives possible to score a good grade

and check off that requirement? This is one

of the biggest hurdles for any pre-med

student to surmount, and perhaps why

many students choose not to venture

outside of the required coursework. But

college, I would argue, is a time to discover

the complexities of the human experience,

to challenge and be challenged, and to

obtain a broad education. Liberal arts are

meant to provide that experience. A worse

grade in a tough philosophy course may

not seem like a good plan, but when you’re

dealing with a patient who does not want to

be resuscitated even if he can be saved

you will know how to deal with the

situation. If you are more realistic than

idealistic, a great workaround is to take

courses on a Pass/Fail basis. You still


eceive credit, without the stress of being

graded.

(3) General Education requirements are

trivialized.

I noticed that many of my classmates in the

courses were often uninterested in the

material at hand, or perhaps unwilling to

devote enough time to picking apart the

details of discussion. By and large, you might

hear a pre-med student say they’re getting

their gen-eds “out of the way” so they can

focus on what they want to learn. This line of

thinking causes students to devalue the

lessons they may learn outside of basic

science. Though such a mindset is tough to

address, I would advise taking a few courses

that you find fun and would probably never be

exposed to ever again in your education.

Pottery, choir, nutrition, women and gender

studies are a few examples that come to

mind. Expand your horizons and enjoy it!

(1) Mastery of knowledge requires

specialization.

The rigor of science courses is undeniable;

they demand a constant attention to

detail and deeper understanding not only of

how or what, but of why. Of course, these are

the things that draws pre-meds to the study

of biology in the first place. But many late

nights at the library to go over a signaling

pathway, reviewing anatomical systems, or

covering metabolic steps is exhausting in

breadth and depth of knowledge. Though

there is nothing inherently wrong with deeper

learning, this siloed approach does not allow

for cross-disciplinary learning. Dr. Keat

Sanford, former dean of the UConn School of

Medicine and current pre-med advisor,

advises students to “look at each semester as

an opportunity to provide some balance and

try to get some engagement in the three areas

that the Association of American

Medical Colleges (AAMC) has determined

important (cultural competency,

interpersonal skills, professional

development).” Working on these soft skills

is not a waste of time and a reason that

social sciences have become requisite

coursework for the MCAT.

(2) Pre-professional preparation drives

students to begin much earlier.

I realized that my future prospects as a

medical school applicant relied on

academic excellence in science-related

areas on top of research, volunteer work,

and clinical experience. While important to

building the foundation of knowledge in the

field that I wanted to enter, such

preparation lured my attention away from

the basic ideas and ideals of a liberal arts

education. Our culture of maximizing

results with minimal effort (“most bang for

your buck”) and instant gratification also

contributed to this shifting focus. Rising

costs of higher education makes it harder

to think beyond preparing for a career and

job, and certainly, for other technical

careers this sentiment is strong.

However, aspiring doctors should be

comforted knowing that the rate of

unemployment for physicians was 0.4%

in 2014, and their median income was

greater than $200,000. Despite these facts,

students may still find it difficult to justify

taking an indirectly related course for their

professional career. Beyond the tangible

benefits that I’ve already outlined, the

critical thinking involved in reading

literature, connecting historical events, and

learning language equips students to

problem-solve in situations that warrant

more than just basic science knowledge.

Writing and speaking to communicate

findings well and advocating for

disenfranchised individuals, using

statistics to peel apart convoluted data,

utilizing Spanish to communicate to

native-speaking patients are only a few

applications of things that should be

learned as an undergraduate.


(1) Resume padding.

Starting earlier in the pre-professional training

has also led to the “checkbox effect.” Have you

taken all the courses? Check. Have you

shadowed doctors? Check. Have you started a

club or joined a club about health care? Did

you start doing research? Have you

volunteered? Check, check, check. More often

than not, the reason for engaging in activities

can trace its way back to looking good for an

application. Yes, it is paramount to have a

good understanding of a career in medicine

and to pursue extracurriculars that reflect

your interest. By the same token, being

passionate about what you do, trying new

things for the sake of interest and not a means

to an end, invariably makes you a more

remarkable person and candidate. Dr. Sanford

adds: “Be careful and selective what you

choose to be involved in. You want to be

passionate about these things so they don’t

end up as checklist items on your list...it’s

so transparent to schools [admissions

committees].” It’s time to stop thinking like a

pre-student of medicine and more like a

college student interested in medicine.

(2) Numbers game.

A large culprit for the PMM is certainly the

numbers game that the admissions process

uses. There is no escaping it. However,

organizations and institutions have

recognized this problem and—believe it or not

—have been trying to address it for years.

Holistic admissions is the process of looking

at an entire person’s application package and

taking the whole rather than the sum of its

parts into consideration. Since the early

2000’s, several programs have adopted an

“early assurance” track allow undergraduate

students direct admission into affiliated

medical schools, some even scrubbing the

MCAT requirement altogether and pushing

students to pursue a liberal education. A look

at some top ranked schools will also show that

the median MCAT scores and GPAs for an

incoming class are rarely at the 99th

percentile. That is to say, medical schools

are looking for more than knowledge gurus

who can test well. They are looking for

interesting students who have done

meaningful things. There is no set pathway

or heuristic to get into medical school; what

works for one student does not guarantee

success for another.

Move away from this mindset of “there’s no

way I can possibly get in and do this,” says

Dr. Sanford. “Don’t let anyone tell you that

you can’t do something.” In a process full of

numbers, excelling in other areas you’re

passionate about will help you stand above

the crowd.Becoming a physician is

exceedingly difficult now more than ever

before. More students are flocking to the

industry that continues to make strides in

technology, research, and outcomes. We

should be excited about these

advancements, but not let the ends justify

the means of maximizing our American

higher education. The Pre-Med Mentality is

a symptom of a gasping liberal arts

education, and it’s preventing us from

becoming the best professionals possible. If

we can understand that healthcare is a

team effort, that learning about more than

just science builds a broader skill base,

that devoting our time and effort to passion

projects will enable us to connect with our

patients more effectively, then we stand to

serve as better thinkers, leaders, and

practitioners. With luck, we might shed the

PMM and along the way also become better

people. But hey, what do I know—I’m just a

“gunner.”

Matthew Lin is a Biological Science major in

his senior year. He will be heading to medical

school next year.


CYRANO

Written By: Delaney Meyer | Designed By: Shemona Singh

Cyrano, the new

technology ready to

tap into the sensory

of smell.


Start Sniffing!

We all recognize those smells

that have the ability to

instantly relax us and

change our mood.


Whether it is the smell of

donuts on campus, clean

laundry, or salty water

at a beach, aromas can

catapult us into different

places and times.

Scent is a powerful sense

for humans, and technology is

beginning to realize just how

profound its impact can be. A new

product, the Cyrano, is attempting

to tap into this potential and begin

movement that is sure to take over

technology in the future.

The Cyrano resembles a small

portable music speaker, but it has

one important feature that distinguishes

it from the Bose devices in

our dorm rooms: it can emit smell.

The primary goal of the Cyrano is

to be able to enhance someone’s

mood through the pairing of scent

and music. With all the stresses

of daily life, don’t you wish your

speaker could do more to improve

your mood too? The Cyrano is a

new-age form of meditation. Not

only does the Cyrano have pairs

of scents and music to relax you,

but they also have pairs that can

awaken or energize you.

We all use air fresheners,

but eventually we become tired

of the smell, or just stop smelling

it at all. With the Cyrano, the smell

is only emitted for a short amount

of time to ensure that you receive

maximum impact with each use.

packs that can be purchased for

the Cyrano. One scent pack is

entitled “Cancun Stroll,” which is

produced with the aromas of guava

and suntan, giving the sniffer

an overwhelming feeling that they

have just been dropped in Cancun.

Another scent is titled “Einstein”.

This scent pack includes rosemary

and seawater which intends to

allow people to see the world in a

fresh way as Einstein did. There are

currently twelve scents to choose

from, but the company is developing

more so everyone will find a

pairing that fits their needs.

Cyrano is one of the first

products to be able to produce

scents through control of an app,

demonstrating just how advanced,

and how accessible, technology

has become. However, mental

health is not the only reason to use

scent for technology in the future.

Because scent is such a powerful

tool, it has great influence over

what humans enjoy and of course

what purchase. While you are in a

store, you are much more likely to

buy something if the store smells

pleasant to you. If you can smell

the tuna that one of the workers

ate for lunch, you will most likely

leave the store quickly with empty

hands. Now, companies will begin

to have to opportunity to persuade

consumers to buy their products

by releasing particular smells while

they show ads on the television or

even over Spotify. Commercials

will no longer be judged on the

quality of the content or the humor

For more information,

or to order your own

Cyrano, check out:

https://onotes.com/

throughout the advertisement

but the smell that takes over the

room while the commercial is on.

Imagine just how much Superbowl

Sunday will change when you can

smell everything you see! Once we

can smell commercials in the comfort

in our own homes, it will not

be long before movies and television

series can begin to utilize the

technology.

Can you imagine watching

the Food Network and being able

to smell what Bobby Flay is grilling?

Or what Guy Fieri is tasting?

Even if you are not a fan of the

Food Network, you have to agree

that having the ability to smell

something you have only been

able to see and hear about is enticing.

Even watching your favorite

television

show or movie will change drastically,

as you will be able to smell

anything that the characters can

smell, immersing you deeper into

the plot. As of right now, commercials

and television with scent are

still far away, but the ball is rolling.

Thanks to products like the Cyrano,

a new world is unfolding right

under our noses!


Bibliography


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