Overnight Brains

Not to be confused for meal-prep, lamb brains took up real estate in Neuroscience students’ fridges during the pandemic.

Brain.neuroscience

To understand how the brain works, it helps to take one apart, says Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Lindsay Halladay. But the pandemic presented a big problem on this front.

Normally students in her popular Explorations in Neuroscience class dissect a lamb brain. This way they can see, for example, the pieces of the brain that evolved first, like the heart rate- and blood pressure-regulating medulla, are at the base, while parts controlling higher functions like decision-making layer on top.

But, no in-person classes meant no labs. Unless, the lab went to the students.

And so it was that Halladay and lab staff ordered shrink wrapped sheep brains, white lab coats, a lab tray, and other materials to make lab care packages mailed to students. “It was a unique opportunity to transport the students’ brains back to a shared classroom despite being away,” laughs Halladay, “Although I’m sure some roommates and parents were surprised to find a brain in the fridge for a few weeks.”

Tools on hand, the class dissected the brains together, over Zoom. Halladay had one camera on herself, and focused her phone’s camera on the brain.

“Students were able to share the memorable experience with each other like they normally would,” she says. One goal of the class is to give students hands-on experience in neuroscience research—and get comfortable with lab work.

Success! Halladay says students from the remote class now volunteer in her lab as in-person classes have resumed this quarter.

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