In preparation for my first day of class in this new undertaking where the end is seemingly out of sight, this afternoon I sat down and read the first chapter of my text book. The Human Brain. This introductory text takes a very general look at the brain and how it works, which is really quite perfect for me considering I go into this knowing nothing. In fact, I’m probably actually quite hindered in my ability to understand the brain thanks to television shows with pseudo-neuroscience, such as House, Scrubs, or any other medical show. In these shows, it seems like they just pick a whole slough of jargon and buzzwords and throw them at you so quickly that the common person believes that the conversation that the two doctors just had actually reflected an intelligent discourse. Cerebral cortex, cerebellum, neurons, brain stem, synapse, etc. Anyway, it’s like a kid who watches Batman the Animated Series, and then goes to a Karate class and thinks he’s a black belt because he already knows all the moves.

Reading the book was actually quite the challenge. After my senior year in undergraduate studies, I became quite used to high-level text books. Operating Systems, Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence, etc. Each one covered difficult subject matter that the average person would find daunting to grasp, much less fully understand. However, much to my surprise, this book was the most difficult reading I have ever had to do, and in only the first chapter, no less! I was immediately confronted with words I had never read before such as ganglia, glial, cytoskeletal, axon, dendrite, and more. With each turn of the page I could feel myself getting deeper into a mess of words that I couldn’t understand. It took me two hours to read through thirty pages. However, most pages had large figures and diagrams on them, so it was really just about fifteen pages of text. I reread each sentence twice, often three or four times. Sometimes I had to go back and read the entire paragraph again just to make heads or tails of it all.

The bad news? If I had to take a quiz over the first chapter now, I’d probably fail. I read through it and gained a basic understanding of the material, but I know that most of it failed to really sink in. I knew this would hard, and so when I hit this “setback” today, it didn’t phase me much because I was ready for something like this.

The good news? I enjoyed learning what I did. Despite not grasping 100% or even 80% of what I read, I still learned quite a bit of interesting information. I look forward to truly understanding this subject matter because it’s intriguing and interesting to me.

Tomorrow: the first day. Pray for me, wish me luck, etc. I’ll post everything about it sometime Tuesday.


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