Brain Day with Dr Guy Sutton

DSC_0110On 7th February, the LVI psychologists were fortunate enough to experience LEH’s annual “Brain Day”, led by Dr Guy Sutton, a university lecturer and founder of the company ‘Medical Biology Interactive’. We enjoyed a brilliant day of learning that helped to expand our knowledge beyond what we have covered so far on the A-level course, preparing us for when we begin to look at biopsychology later in the course.

Dr Sutton introduced us to sections of the brain which we have yet to study in our school syllabus, showing us how different sections of the brain influence characteristics like bilingualism and understanding word semantics. We were shown a video of an open brain surgery, which demonstrated how, when different areas of the brain are stimulated, different physical impulses are triggered.

Dr Sutton also discussed the involvement of the brain in criminology and law, explaining that the English legal system works on a basis of free will, in that everyone has the free will to choose to commit a crime, unless it can be proved that the suspect has an abnormality within their frontal cortex, preventing them from being morally reasonable.

We spent part of the morning doing our own research into different psychological disorders and the effects of different drugs on brain function, making the session more interactive and exploratory for the students.

In the afternoon, Dr Sutton began by dispelling some of the myths surrounding brains, such as the idea that people will retain more information if it is taught to them in their preferred learning style, i.e. visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic. He then delved further into the ideas of brain development that had been introduced earlier in the day, informing us of new and exciting facts, including how the eyes are an extension of the brain, and if they don’t develop correctly, then conditions such as holoprosencephaly can occur.

We were also introduced to the concept of neuroplasticity, meaning that the brain can continually evolve in order to account for new experiences and changes. The example which we were shown was the case study of Jody Miller, who, much to the astonishment of the LVI, is living without the right hemisphere of her brain, having undergone a hemispherectomy to reduce the seizures she suffered due to a rare condition called Rasmussen’s encephalitis.

Towards the end of the day, Dr Sutton conducted a dissection of a sheep’s brain, taking us through each step, and carefully showing us each different section of the brain as he explained what the function of each would be in a human brain. For many students, especially those who also study biology, this was one of the most exciting parts of the day.

The day finished with a quick discussion regarding schizophrenia and other more severe psychotic disorders – an interesting ending to an exciting day.

By Katie and Philippa (LVI)