Photo Post: The Ghost of Da Vinci

These two flags at the château exhibit the union of France and Brittany through marriage

Our visit to Château d’Amboise was breathtakingly beautiful. Known to be a place where Leonardo Da Vinci spent a lot of his time during his final years, our guided tour of this château was amazing in terms of both art and history, but also in terms of seeing the place that served as one of the muses of Da Vinci, who made important contributions to neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. To escape Paris to see the French countryside was phenomenal, and I left hoping to someday return.

Photo Post: These Ain’t Ezekiel’s Dry Bones

Dr. Easterling coming face to face with a preserved human body

Our visit to the Musee Fragonard at the Ecole Nationale Veterinaire d’Alfort was nothing short of incredible. Our guided tour took us through a huge collection of animal specimens, both healthy and diseased. Some of the specimens were whole skeletons and others were preserved body parts or models that exhibited various forms of birth defects, diseases, and injuries. To our surprise, at the end of the exhibit were some preserved humans that were hundreds of years old! Visiting this museum was certainly an experience I won’t soon forget.

Photo Post: Hopefully This History Doesn’t Repeat Itself

Medical instruments used in the time period of 1685-1770

Our visit to the Musee d’Histoire de la Medicine was very impactful due to the excellent guided tour. We learned a lot about the evolution of medical instruments and techniques as well as about some of the major innovators. Concerning the latter, our tour guide particularly focused on some of the incredible women who made great contributions to the evolution of medicine despite great barriers to their participation. This visit was extremely comprehensive and was very interesting because even the scariest of instruments and procedures made sense when they were historically contextualized.

Photo Post: To Parisians, Smoke Is No Joke

A collection of pipes used throughout history

This photo is from our class visit to Le Musee de Fumeur (The Museum of Smoking). We visited this museum because Paris, and France in general, is big on smoking and in class we learned about the effects of nicotine on the brain. Since the article we analyzed was a rat study, it was very interesting to learn about the various ways that humans have ingested nicotine over the years. This truly unique museum illustrated smoking’s impact on human society over the centuries and was quite eye-opening.

Hut 2 3 4…Medicine?

Our visit to the Musée du service de santé des armées (Army Health Service Museum) was a very impactful experience. It was incredible to see the influence that the military has had on the development of medicine. During our visit to Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, I found that the makeshift military hospital set up there had one of the first X-ray machines in clinical usage. This tied in beautifully to my experience at the Army Health Service Museum because I learned even more about how the French military was at the forefront of innovation in healthcare in this country.

Me posing with one of the uniforms certain French military medical personnel used to wear.

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International Neuroethics Conference & OECD Reflection

The last couple days our class spent attending the International Neuroethics Conference. It was an amazing experience as it was a privilege to be able to listen to some of the greatest minds today in science, technology, policy, and philosophy. To learn from them and also witness their exchanges with each other was nothing short of inspiring. It reminded me of just how interdisciplinary neuroscience can be, which was one of the major reasons I chose to major in this field in the first place.

The topics covered were varied. On the first day, Theory of Mind was discussed a lot, and obviously this was an excellent bridge between neuroscience and philosophy. Some of the most interesting studies were done in animals, and more and more research dictates that animals are much more intelligent and aware than we previously thought (Martin & Santos, 2016). The ethics of Deep Brain Stimulation was also discussed at length and I was amazed at the breadth of diseases and disorders that are already being treated by this procedure. Continue reading “International Neuroethics Conference & OECD Reflection”

Chocolate: Good for the Brain, Good for the Soul

This week we went to the Le Musée Gourmand Du Chocolat, where we not only toured the museum, but we also participated in a workshop where we learned (hands-on!) part of how chocolate is made. The museum was very thorough, beginning with how cocoa beans were used by indigenous Americans for making drinks and even trading as currency. What we learned about the purported health benefits of chocolate from the museum tied into what we learned in class about cocoa flavanols’ potential ability to sharpen our brains’ function. An article we discussed this week at length and wrote a review article on provided evidence that cocoa flavanols “enhance the efficiency of spatial attention” (Karabay, Saija, Field, & Akyürek 2018). Therefore, chocolate may not only be good for our taste buds, but also our brains!

The chocolate workshop was really interesting because the chef at the museum that ran our workshop taught us a lot about how different beans are selected for different flavors, how beans are prepared to make different kinds of chocolate, and how different fillings are added to create various chocolatey delights.

Me making a masterpiece

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Rugby: A Concussion Discussion

On June 2, we attended a rugby match, which was the Finale du Top 14. The atmosphere was electric and so many people came out to support their favorite team. While enjoying the fast-paced game and the zeal of the French crowd in the stadium, we completed our assignment of tracking a selected player’s head impacts throughout the game. The idea was to examine the danger of high-level rugby compared to sports with which we were more familiar with in the United States.

The French superfans painted themselves their team’s colors. #Smurfs

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What Cheese can be Used to Encourage a Bear? … Camembert!

France is world-famous for their cuisine, and no food from here may be more renowned than French cheese. Each region of France produces particular varieties, and strict protocols govern their production. The result is that many distinct French cheeses exist, each with a patently unique flavor profile. This week, we had the privilege of being able to sample a broad selection of French cheeses at the Fromagerie Jouannault.

The first round of cheese tasting, featuring Ashley Affineur, cheesemaker and connoisseur

Modern demand for French cheese has created a unique problem. The market is being forced to mass produce popular varieties, and at times these formerly strict protocols have been compromised. An example of this issue is the contemporary production of Camembert cheese, a variety we studied for its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective effects (Ano et al.). Traditionally, Camembert is produced from raw milk in small batches, but now some mass production is occurring using pasteurized cheese. This compromises the flavor profile and reduces the integrity of the variety’s brand. Continue reading “What Cheese can be Used to Encourage a Bear? … Camembert!”