On Monday 10 November our Sixth Form Psychology students were visited by Dr Sutton, a neuroscientist, who lectures medical students at Nottingham Medical School, for Brain Day. Dissection and mice on drugs were just some of the surprises that our guest speaker brought with him.
We examined real sheep brains, dissecting one to find the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, hippocampus and amygdala. Most of the students donned gloves and passed the brain parts around and all went well – until a brain fell in Sophie’s lap! The Lower Sixth considered the pre-frontal cortex and executive function, linking to stress and inoculation therapy and understanding why doing timed essays and tests can help prepare the body biologically for exams.
The Lower Sixth heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and why understanding stress matters. This built on the information they need to know for their AS Psychology course, such as sources of stress, responses to stress and stress at work. They considered how Coronary Heart Disease can be directly influenced by chronic stress, and experienced being a mother rat licking her young to see how that can influence their stress levels late in life.
Epigenetics was a feature of the day – understanding how the expression of our genes can influence stress and mental health. It was a privilege to hear about 2013-2014 research findings and the Upper Sixth explored how these change our understanding of genetics and the dopamine hypothesis as explanations of Schizophrenia. In addition, it was excellent to stretch the students beyond the A Level syllabus and give them an insight into how Psychology, Medicine and Neuroscience are taught at degree level.
Head of Psychology