On Saturday, May 28th, Lauren, Sam, and I visited Galleries Lafayette in the 9th district. Galleries Lafayette is a mall-sized department store with endless brands and multiple cafes, restaurants, and bars. We weren’t there for a long time as we quickly learned that it contained mostly high-end brands, but it was definitely an experience. We went for a nice dinner followed by more shopping that was better suited for us.
Personally, shopping has never been a fun activity for me. In fact, it is quite stressful. However, most people find shopping relaxing and joyful, leading to the development of the concept of retail therapy which is supported by science. So next time you want to go shopping and someone tells you not to, remind them that shopping can be good for the brain.
On May 22nd, 2022, I visited the gardens of Versailles with Sam, Cynthia, and Rachel. Versailles was the palace that housed the royal family until the revolution and found itself at the center of the French Revolution. The royal family spent an exuberant amount of money on the palace while the citizens of France were poor and starving. The revolution ended with the takeover of Versailles and the overthrow of the royal family. As a result of their crimes and ignorance to the needs of the people, both Marie Antionette and King Louis XVI were beheaded. In our neuroethics class, we explored the hard problem of consciousness and whether a decapitated head can have consciousness. In NBB 302 last semester, we discussed how consciousness is an interesting problem in both neuroscience and ethics because we are unable to determine the “how” and “why” of consciousness, which makes studying the phenomenon difficult.
Today (May 26,2022) we went to the Père Lachaise cemetery for a class visit. This cemetery is the largest one in Paris and hosts the graves of many famous actors, singers, musicians, poets, authors, and especially various scientists. One of the famous scientists buried in Père Lachaise is Claude Bernard (1813-1878). Bernard was a French physiologist who studied at Harvard and has contributed a great deal to the field of medicine. To some, he is the man who laid the initial foundation of the field of neuroscience. He found the connection between the heart, peripheral organs, and the brain. We also owe him a great debt for influencing widely lay methodological experimental methods used in modern science. He introduced the neurovisceral integration model which explains the theoretical view of the regulation and dysregulation of emotions. With his various other contributions, he is one of the many famous individuals buried there along with Chopin!
This week, we went to a cheese tasting. We were able to taste the different types of cheeses and learn about the cheese-making process and flavor profiles. We were also able to connect the paper we reviewed this week in class and the ideas that the researchers were investigating to real life. Specifically, we were taught to understand the difference between French and American cheese and link how pasteurization and fermentation affect the gut microbiome.
The other day, we went to a cheese tasting at Fromagerie Monbleu in the 9th Arrondissement. We had a wonderful hostess who provided fun and interactive activities beyond a simple cheese tasting: a cheese quiz, a blind taste testing, a blind drawing activity, and an identifying the cheese activity. It was interesting to try cheese made from cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk that originated from different parts of Europe. We learned that taste comes from sensors in the tongue, and flavor comes from sensors in the tongue and nose. This means taste and flavor involve different pathways within the brain, resulting in each cheese having a complex and unique profile.
Photo 1: a photo of a canine with osteopetrosis, or ‘bone-on-bone.’ Likely caused by a lung infection, the exact mechanism and underlying causes to this unstoppable bone growth are still unknown, however, osteopetrosis can occur in humans as well as dogs. Osteopetrosis is a bone disease in which bones become unusually and alarmingly dense and easily fractured. This condition can be caused by many factors, and is, unfortunately, heritable. This was one of many disease our tour guide mentioned that used to be treated in animals in the exact same manner as it would be treated medically in a human. As previously stated, the current underlying mechanisms to osteopetrosis in canines are currently unknown, but osteopetrosis in humans can be prevented. It’s invaluable that we diverge in our treatment of neurological and other disease between humans and non-human animals, as the mechanisms, anatomy, and responses are inherently different in nature.