Sofia Mateu is fifteen years old, she studies 4th ESO and has very clear that she wants to be a psychologist. She and her classmates from the Escola Projecte of Barcelona have been able to see firsthand how the group on cognition and brain plasticity IDIBELL led by psychologist Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells works on their visit within the Escolab program on February 23.
The visit started with an explanation of how our brain changes while we learn, memorize and process information. Students in the Escola Projecte have been shown very interested in the problems of memory, what is wrong with people affected by Alzheimer ... Her teacher of Biology and Geology, Carmen Rayas, explained that "before visiting the center, we have prepared the topics at class because, although they are not included in the program, it is important that students have a clear idea of what researchers will speak during the visit.”
After theory they have passed a series oftests to check how our brain behaves.
In the lab
In groups, students have been able to see for themselves what means going through a polygraph test. They have visited the laboratory where measurements are made of EDA (electrodermal activity), which captures the variations of sweat on the fingers and result in a graph that is used to capture the emotions of the person. They have also seen the electroencephalograph, which can record, through electrodes placed on the head surface, the brain electrical activity. These are two of the techniques used by researchers to perform experiments at IDIBELL.
Another process studied by the group led by Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells is memory. Our brain has the ability to learn and memorize information but we can not store all the information we receive. The brain gets the necessary and organized it for easy access when needed. But this selection can sometimes be misleading us. It is what they have demonstrated with a simple memory test.
The students had to listen to a series of words and then discern from a list what words they had heard and what not. Most students in the class thought he heard the word "chair" but it was not true. At the list appeared words like furniture, table, sit ... all of the same semantic category. Your brain, for simplicity, instead of remembering every word, has brought all together in a common category. It is what is called the false memory. "I was sure I had heard the word chair," he exclaimed some of the students surprised by the trappings of his brain.
The ultimate goal of IDIBELL research is to bring research results to the patient. Therefore, the last space that the students of the Escola Projecte have visited was the laboratory where the Rodriguez-Fornells group is testing, successfully, an alternative therapy for patients who have suffered a stroke.
These patients tend to have mobility problems at fingers and hands and music therapy is an effective way to regain mobility in the affected limbs. The technique is learning to play an instrument (piano or electric drum), to stimulate the brain region that controls movement.
After the visit, Sofia continues having cleared her vocation: "By the time I'm more interested in dealing with patients in the investigation but the visit was very interesting because everything they learn at laboratories will be useful to apply to the clinic. Also her teacher, Carmen Rayas is satisfied: "Our goal is to connect the world of science with the real world and these visits allow students to see how this world that is new to them works and perhaps awaken some other vocation."