On Tuesday we welcomed back Dr Guy Sutton to deliver his breath-taking neuroscience workshop to Upper Sixth Psychology and Biology students. The day was a huge success and I was particularly impressed with how engaged and inquisitive our Cranleighans were as they excelled in the rigours of higher education by diligently engaging in a full day of lectures. They listened attentively and were constantly challenged to consider the findings of contemporary scientific research, ranging from how child abuse, the viewing of hardcore pornography and space travel affects the structures and processes of the brain. They engaged in lively discussions on the ethical issues of scientists growing cerebral organoids in petri dishes and at what point these cerebral organoids potentially develop consciousness.

The Academic Lecture Theatre was abuzz as Dr Sutton spent an hour performing a sheep brain dissection whilst emphasising which structures of the brain are responsible for specific functions and behaviours – it certainly wasn’t for the squeamish.

The student’s experiences from the day can best be summed up by our very own Milly C.

 

‘An information jam packed day about the most ground breaking discoveries and fascinating findings of our intricate, yet powerful brain was presented to us on Tuesday by Dr Sutton from the University of Nottingham. 

His passion and interest in his subject was conveyed from the outset and had a direct impact on myself and my peers’ ever growing interest as the day continued. From the newly discovered effects of climate change on our brain, to how neural decoding is being assimilated with technology to assist those who face profound physical disabilities; we were all engrossed to see what mind-boggling concept Dr Sutton would introduce next. 

Not to mention the dissection of the sheep’s brain; which left all of us startled by the resemblance it appeared to have to that of a human’s brain! We got to handle the tough meninges which envelops the cerebral cortex and brain stem. We were all in awe as Dr Sutton meticulously dissected the different structures and inform us of their functionalities, such as the Hypothalamus – a region of the forebrain below the thalamus which coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary gland, controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems.

My favourite and most impactful topic we learnt about was Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs). Astonishingly these technological revelations are designed to restore or replace behavioural functions in patients with spinal cord injuries and other neurological impairments. BCIs receive electrical signals from the brain, translating them into commands that are sent to an output device effecting a desired action. To be enlightened to this modern concept and all the other incredible functions of the brain by a world class expert and enthusiast was an honour. What myself and my peers engaged in on Tuesday was truly insightful – I’m sure I will remember for a very long time.’

Milly C., Upper Sixth Psychology student