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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Short White Coat: Brain at rest

Short White Coat is a blog written by second-year Harvard medical student Ishani Ganguli. Ishani's posts appear here, as part of White Coat Notes. E-mail Ishani at shortwhitecoat@gmail.com.

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We finished neuro (-science, -biology, -anatomy) on Friday, and though completing a three-hour, hand-numbing final exam is always cause for celebration, I'm a bit sad to see this course go. Perhaps from their intimate understanding of the human brain, or else from pure chance, our neurology professors were particularly adept at tailoring material to fit into our brains.

There was something for every learning style -- hands-on brain dissections, neatly structured case-based tutorial sessions designed to track with our increasing skill sets, and as professor David Cardozo would proudly remind us on a regular basis, numbered slides to minimize frantic shuffling through lecture notes and put our minds at ease. Cardozo -- a veteran of this course who will soon be named associate dean for graduate education, would also bring his dog Chase to lecture on occasion to keep us on our toes. Above all, there was the frequent reality check about the amount of information from this course that we'd actually retain in our careers.

One review lecture by our other course director, Bernard Chang, even went through each subsection of the nervous system with the neuroanatomist's view we had learned but would soon lose, the more simplistic but informative neurologist's view, and the general clinician's depth of neural knowledge. I watched as the slides featured successively fewer lines and silently appreciated the practical approach so often missing in our courses.

On Thursday, we finished off the class with a slideshow featuring the interesting places we'd taken our summer neuro-anatomy reading (my photo was in the White House press room). It had been a much-needed incentive to cart this reading around in the first place.
And once it was all over -- on Friday night -- we killed some brain cells to celebrate.

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