Memento Mori!!

Last Wednesday, my class and I went to the Panthéon to see some paintings and some even more important crypts. Prior to going, I truly knew nothing about this place. Honesty I thought it was going to be a tritubte to the greek gods, but oh was I wrong! Upon looking it up in the wiki, I learned that Rousseau and Voltaire were buried here, but I was surprised to see all the beautiful art and a few memorials to some notable people.

When we got there, I saw the beautiful architecture and had to take photos. Paris has once again left me awestruck by the beauty of the design. Who knew that pillars could be beautiful?! One thing that left me in shock was seeing a memorial to Aimé Césiare and Toussaint Louverture. It was so surreal seeing a memorial to THE Toussaint Louverture, especially given that he was so anti-French state/colonial rule and led the Haitian Revolution against the French, the only successful enslaved person-led revolt in history. Seeing this memorial to him was powerful sight to see. I will say, however, that seeing Césiare’s memorial had more of a bodily-shock response from me. His memorial physically gave me chills.For those of you who do not know, Aimé Césiare was one of these most influential thinkers and contributors to black studies for his work with the Negritude movement and his Discourse on Colonialism and decolonization. Seeing his memorial, took me back to the time that I took Critical Black Studies in the Fall of 2021. Taking that class was so transformative for me. It was such a paradigm shift for so much for the better. It made me question many aspects of society that I ignored or that I didn’t know that I was ignorant. So, seeing Césiare’s memorial was a cue that triggered my chills which made me think about the science of happy memories.

This then prompted me to explore more into how fond memories arise and to look deeper into this concept. One thing that I found in a Sheldon et al. (2020) paper was that memories are better remembered if that emotion is high in arousal and or high in valence. Also, cues that are high in valence (i.e. for me seeing Aimé Césiare’s name/memorial) are better driven by emotional cues (Sheldon et al., 2020). I didnt know (or at least consciously think) that there was a such a strong connection between emotion and memories. I guess that explains why we better remember traumatic memories more than we do the happy ones. Given the valence and arousal of those bad memories it makes sense we would rememebr those memories more vividly. 

But altogether, I had such a great time learning about who was buried inside the Panthéon and seeing the intricate architechure. When I get back to the states I am surely going to miss the rich history of Paris and all of its beauty. But I rest assured that I can always come back for the small cost of an arm and a leg!


Sheldon, S., Williams, K., Harrington, S., & Otto, A. R. (2020). Emotional cue effects on accessing and elaborating upon autobiographical memories. Cognition, 198, 104217.


Photo Post 4 – Jacob Lishnoff

On May 27th my classmates and I went to the Chateau de Fontainbleau, which was a unique experience, to say the least. It was really cool to see Napoleon Bonaparte’s palace. I found kind of funny that Napoleon had to sign his abdication papers in the room right next to his own room. That’s really tough, man. But aside from that, it was gorgeous!! I loved how the display rooms captured the change in attitudes toward interior design throughout the three centuries. What an amazing trip! Such a nice rest before all the work I had to do in the coming weeks.

In this photo is me next to the big guy himself, Napoleon.

Photo Post 3 – Jacob Lishnoff

On May 26th my class and I went on another excursion, to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise! At the cemetery, we did a little bit of grave hunting to find some prominent people. It took us forever to find some of the graves but oh was it worth it! We got lost in the cemetery which made us slow down and really look at our surroundings. I didn’t realize how beautiful the architecture was on some of the graves. This trip (in addition to being in the beautiful city of Paris) revived my passion and appreciation for architecture. If my goal of being a clinical psychologist doesn’t pan out well, I am rest assured knowing that my love for architecture will always be there! Here is me tired as heck leaving the cemetery, due to how hot it was and due to how much walking/searching we did!

Photo Post 2 – Jacob Lishnoff

On May 31st Jewel and I went to a local library to work on our Paper 2. The library was so small yet so nice. It was such a relief to find this place as there were so few people there which allowed us to really bunker down and push out some quality work. Also, it was near this nice boba place where Jewel and I had the option of taking a quick boba break which was a huge plus. It was so nice to get lost and explore the area of Le Marais during our downtime. From now on I think I’m going to pick a random location with a library, get some work done and start exploring a new side of Paris. In this photo is me and Jewel after a successful study session!

Photo post 1 – Jacob Lishnoff

On May 30th, my classmates and I went to a Chocolate-making workshop where we made chocolate bars and later went to a museum about chocolate. This was my first time seeing how these chocolate bars were made. I had such a great time making chocolate but I soon realized that my chocolate bar design skills definitely need some work! My peers made such beautiful and intricate bar designs. After eating all of my bars of chocolate I rest assured that it didn’t matter. It tasted delicious! In this photo is me with the beauties that I birthed during this chocolate making… Later I proceeded to binge all of them as a makeshift anti-anxiety med.

A COVID-19 Memoir: “Prison” with a view

This week I spent most of my time in Hell! As many of you know, I contracted COVID-19 last week and had to quarantine for 5 days. My experience was awful. There is no sugar coating it. The virus drained me both physically and mentally.

Prior to quarantining, we went to the Soccer game which was amazing but I’m pretty sure that that’s the day of first exposure resulting in me contracting Covid.

Here is me in a state of blissful ignorance prior to getting my positive result.

Fast forward to this past Monday night when I started to feel low energy. I knew that my immune system was on alert but I thought it was just a sinus problem. The next day, however, I started to feel some serious fatigued and was told to get tested. When I got the positive result, I was heartbroken. This was my first time contracting COVID so I didn’t know what to expect.

The physical symptoms were hard but manageable but the mental ones really hit me. During that time, I had felt isolated, depressed, and lonely but also simultaneously stressed about missing all this work. In thinking about this loneliness I searched for any additional information. From what I found I learned that the “lonely areas” in the brain are the amygdala as it is the emotion-center of the brain but also the Nucleus Accumbens which provides a positive reward aspect during social feedback (Lieberz et al. 2021). I also learned the NAcc is less activated during times of loneliness which may contribute to an overall lack of motivation( Lieberz et al. 2021). With no social feedback and the same environmental stimulus, no wonder why I lacked the motivation to do anything. I think it was the loneliness that was preventing me from working

One thing that helped me through all this loneliness was all the people supporting me I’m extremely grateful for my classmates who reached out and checked in on me and sent wishes to get better. These very kind messages did wonders for my immune system as well as my overall hope of getting through this. I’m even more grateful to my roommate Adway for making me soups for the past couple of days and Duke for disinfecting any surface that I touched to ensure that I would spread this horrid virus to anyone else. I’m also really grateful for my Mom and partner who were rooting for me through this dark time. Also, shout out to the two Squishamallows that my partner packed for me. These guys are the real pillars of my mental health!!

Here are my support fruits that got me through it! Left is Maui and right is Ximena. Also, the cool view where I spent most of my time people-watching can be seen in the background.

Lieberz, J., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Saporta, N., Kanterman, A., Gorni, J., Esser, T., Kuskova, E., Schultz, J., Hurlemann, R., & Scheele, D. (2021). Behavioral and neural dissociation of social anxiety and loneliness. 

I think Eiffel into Paris-dise :)

This past Wednesday I went on a picnic with some of my classmates under the Eiffel Tower. I was hesitant in going as I had already seen the Eiffel tower on our boat trip and didn’t see the point of seeing the Eiffel Tower from that close… but oh was I wrong! When we got there we saw so many sections of open turf occupied by so many people from all over the world. I heard all these different languages and saw many different faces, which reminded me of home with the extent of the US’s diversity. One thing that connected all these different people was our collective shared experience of witnessing the awe of the Eiffel Tower. This same phenomenon happened to me and my classmates. As the evening continued I noticed another perk of being here instead of the Arc de Triomphe. I saw that we were growing closer and started to share things we had in common. It was then that I realized that new friendships were sprouting from one of those turf patches.

POV: you are a patch of grass (Photo of new friends!)

It didn’t take long for laughs and overall good vibes to flood our conversations. Someone soon suggested that we do a little photo shoot which really kicked things off. Often times we get a little insecure when we lose for photos but that didn’t happen here with so many of us hyping each other up allowing us to take some amazing photos. The energy of these photo shoots reminded me of the same energy that’s created with my friends back home, which prompted me to dive deeper into the neuroscience of friendship. From this, I learned that striatum plays an important role in social behavior as it encodes rewards from social situations (Báez-Mendoza and Schultz, 2013). One thing that i found is that social isolation during chronic social isolation can actually weaken the dendritic spine density in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, so I am really happy I went and have been willing to go out more than I do back home in the states (Báez-Mendoza and Schultz, 2013). This newly found information really opened my mind up to the science of social behaviors and friendship. Upon searching the literature is there were very few recent studies looking into this topic which came as a surprise to me. Altogether though, this was a fun experience! 10/10, I highly recommend!!

This is me holding up the Eiffel tower, so much fun!


Báez-Mendoza, R., & Schultz, W. (2013). The role of the striatum in social behavior. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7.

Taking it Cheesy…

Last Wednesday my classmates and I embarked on a cheese tasting excursion. Prior to the trip, however, I was slightly scared of trying all these cheeses as I am a bit scared to try new foods. Upon arriving and seeing the five kinds of cheese in front of me.

In this photo are  those five cheeses that we tasted and then had to idenitify. These cheeses were made in a multitude of different ways hence their different appearances!

I was initially shocked at the amount of the variety of cheeses and the different shapes/methods of making. Once we got all settled, one of the Fromagerie workers tasked us with four different mini-games that tested some of our senses, namely, sight, smell, taste, and touch. One of the mini-games was called “Name that cheese!”, which gave us the opportunity to dive into these delicious cheeses and taste the cheeses. I was so excited to try something new, especially to try cheese from an authentic place that makes its own cheese. This excitement, however, was short-lived as reality hit me, and quickly noticed that the latter cheeses were more bitter and left a stronger aftertaste. One of my teammates actually “tapped out” at the third cheese and couldn’t finish the last one because the taste was too gross and too intense. I, however, continued to taste test all of the cheeses which was a big mistake on my part because the last two kinds of cheese were way too bitter for my liking. I found myself going back to the first two kinds of cheese (along with many sips of wine and water) to get the bitter aftertaste out of my mouth. My body could not stomach the last two kinds of cheese and i was wondering why as i had never looked/read much into the science of disgust

Prior to researching into disgust and taste topic, I knew that taste is something that has benefited humans and animals alike, as it can detect poisons and other harmful materials. Upon further research into this topic, I found one study that was specifically pertaining to cheeses. In this study researchers conducted a taste test on a multitude of foods and found that cheese actually had a higher proportion of individuals who were disgusted by cheese than by other food categories. They found that odor and sight were the two prominent senses in establishing this disgust, as they activate the GPi/GPe and SN, indicating that these structures may also encode disgust (along with reward) and detect the aversive properties of food (Royet et al., 2016). This made so much sense because the last cheese we were tasting/identifying smelled off and looked so strange to me, so no wonder why i had a hard time eating them. Maybe in the future if i should ever try to taste those last two cheeses again, id like to be blindfolded with my nose covered to see if this changes anything. Nonetheless, this cheese excursion was such a unique and a very french experience.

Say cheese! Here is a photo of me and friends cheesing (siezing) the day.

PS: Sorry if this post was too cheesy with a gouda-mout of cheese puns 🙂