Yesterday I wrote my last ever exam as a university undergraduate.
Not gonna lie, I’m not feeling very nostalgic at the moment, I doubt I’m gonna miss the 10+h marathons in the library or the anxiety before going in. But I will miss university as an opportunity to learn!
Take yesterday’s exam for example, PS3010. Behavioural Neuroscience. When I got here, I never thought I would be interested in biology. And it turned out, I absolutely loved it! Well, not revising for it. But understanding how disorders work was fascinating! And I also got my favourite question: how is depression linked to the HPA axis. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is implicated in fight-or-flight responses, and consists in a chain of mechanisms leading to the release of cortisol. In depression, the negative feedback from high levels of cortisol is impaired, and that as consequences such as depletion of norepinephrine (in the locus coeruleus), and loss of dendrites and therefore shrinkage of the hippocampus. The HPA is also heavily involved in anxiety, which to me was even more interesting. But apart from being extremely fascinating, the knowledge coming from this finding can help us develop new treatments for depression, since the ones we had are not exactly great. They don’t work on 30% of patients, have side effects, and if we’re talking SSRIs they take weeks to actually have an effect! If we know that elements such as BDNF or NGF (they both promote cell proliferation and survival) can potentiate the effect of serotonin, we can potentially use them to improve the course of therapy! Not surprisingly, those factors are suppressed by excessive activity of the HPA.
It’s all connected! I find it so fascinating.
That was my answer anyway (without the “oh, so fascinating!” bit), hopefully it was good enough! But like I was saying, I never thought I would be a science-y person, but that’s what university has taught me. Try new things, explore, question things as much as you can! 🙂
Now I will be busy sorting my life out, like finding a job for next year. But at least summer is finally here! 😀