She's a Scientist: Jacquelyn Omelian
A psychology professor uses zombie movies to help her students sink their teeth into brain anatomy.
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- [00:00:03.517](thunder rumbling)
- [00:00:06.030]Zombies. For a lot of us,
- [00:00:08.130]there's nothing scarier than these undead brain-eaters.
- [00:00:12.570]The hippocampus is specific to memory.
- [00:00:15.300]Except, maybe, a college-level honors course
- [00:00:18.505]in brain science.
- [00:00:20.310]Neuroscience especially, sometimes has a reputation
- [00:00:23.070]as being a hard, or challenging, or "not for me" type class.
- [00:00:26.610]Areas of the brain made up of myelinated axons.
- [00:00:30.150]To help guide her first-year students
- [00:00:32.250]around the human brain, Omelian turns to zombie movies.
- [00:00:39.637]We talk about essentially introduction to neuroscience,
- [00:00:43.200]but instead of using different disease models,
- [00:00:45.420]like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's,
- [00:00:46.980]we use zombies as our example.
- [00:00:50.070]Studying zombies help students
- [00:00:52.380]sink their teeth into neuroanatomy,
- [00:00:54.990]by learning how damage to the brain
- [00:00:57.360]can affect behavior and personality.
- [00:01:00.600]The mid-brain controls movement of the body and the head,
- [00:01:04.530]and coordinated movement can be affected by that.
- [00:01:07.470]The thalamus, which is like the intermediate processing
- [00:01:09.781]of the motor and sensory functions,
- [00:01:11.790]could have been damaged in that.
- [00:01:16.380]Once the students have wrapped their brains
- [00:01:18.300]around zombie behavior,
- [00:01:20.100]they go to work plugging science facts into science fiction.
- [00:01:24.270]These students work in small groups,
- [00:01:25.890]and they take a zombie movie that they've selected,
- [00:01:29.250]and they edit in facts about the brain
- [00:01:31.740]and the nervous system.
- [00:01:32.730]If there's a zombie on the screen
- [00:01:34.470]who's having a hard time walking,
- [00:01:36.049]they'll put in facts about what's happening
- [00:01:38.130]in the motor cortex, and how the brain controls movement.
- [00:01:41.310]And so they'll edit all of that in.
- [00:01:43.140]And then we do a five-night movie showing,
- [00:01:45.120]where each group shows their movie.
- [00:01:47.040]And last year, we had over 400 students attend.
- [00:01:49.860]So I think that using zombies to teach about neuroscience
- [00:01:52.890]is basically a no-brainer.
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