Ok, so I'm going to post things out of order from my title today because I'm really excited. A few months ago, I applied for a research fellowship for this summer, and I just found out today that I received it! The fellowship includes a stipend for ten weeks of summer research plus funding to go present my work at a national conference in the fall. Our summer research time is only nine weeks, but I'm going to come back to school a week early to get started.
All of the classes today were really good too. (It's not just because I'm in an exceptionally good mood, because I didn't find out about winning the fellowship until after class.) Our FCM session was about racial disparities. The reading consisted of two articles about the different perceptions of doctors and medical students toward patients of different sexes and races, and a third article about kidney transplant likelihood based upon race. I thought the articles had a lot of confounding variables, and it turns out they were all written by the same group. So they're not exactly independent, either. But they were certainly food for thought, and we had a really lively discussion when we met in our small group. The FCM speaker today was pretty good too. I have to say that FCM has gotten a lot better compared to how it was last fall.
Our neuro circuits seminar was nicely done too. It was actually like three mini seminars in one. We were covering three circuits, and we had a short seminar about each one. My favorite was the seminar for the dorsolateral prefrontal circuit, which regulates executive functioning (planning). The seminar leader had us try some of the tests that they give the patients. One is called the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. The examiner doesn't tell the patient the rules for sorting the cards; the patient has to hypothesize what the rules are, and then periodically the examiner changes the rules without warning. Another test was to copy a drawing. Someone with a dorsolateral lesion wouldn't be able to plan the drawing correctly, and it would turn out distorted. There were some other tests too that tested numerical recall, ability to find numbers and letters, etc. The other two seminars were for the other two pathways. One is the anterior cingulate pathway. Lesions in that pathway cause the patient to become apathetic and sometimes mute and motionless. The third one is the lateral orbital pathway, which is involved with personality. People with lesions in this region become disinhibited and stop filtering what they do and say. It's basically like what happened to Phineas Gage.
We had a class meeting afterward, and it wound up being a good one. Of course there was some discussion of the new attendance policy. But the more interesting thing is that Dean Franco discussed some rumors that had been going around. One was about how our SAQ scores were being monitored by the administration. (They aren't.) The other rumor was that the administration was going to use the SAQ scores to secretly rank us. (They aren't.) All good news as far as I am concerned.