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WOAH LIFE
Kya! <3
spikeygal
Woaaaah.

Okay, I'll open with something less stonerish.

Long story short, I moved to Swansea, Wales last month. It is /awesome/ here. Right by the beach, everything is within walking distance, people are lovely, my housemates are amazing, the freedom rocks, I am a happy. Really, really happy. The course seems... a little easy so far if I'm honest, but the best part is that everyone on it seems to want to do clinical, meaning that the facilities for neuroscience experiments are mostly unused by students. This makes it extra easy for me to get all the research assistant positions, and to take on extra lab work with awesome things like TMS and tDCS. Have a google of those if you fancy, but they essentially amp up/turn off parts of the brain.

In that vein, I went to see a supervisor for dissertation about using those two things today. I mentioned that I did a project on synaesthesia and he lit up. We've pretty much drawn out an experiment to test three conflicting theories on the neural correlates of pseudosynaesthesia, which is EXACTLY what I wanted to address from my undergrad dissertation. I get to use a tDCS machine and I'm so pumped about it I don't even... I'm really excited. This is an amazing opportunity and I can't believe that everyone seems to enthusiastic to let me do these things. I also get to play around with oxytocin, giving it to people who were born with face blindness to see if it helps them improve (spoiler: it probably will. This is excellent).

As always, I feel like there's probably more that I could gush about on this front, but nothing springs to mind. It's probably best to keep that somewhat brief anyway, since I know not many people read these and of those that do not many (any?) are into neuroscience. Still. Huzzah!
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Dude. That really is awesome. Really, really amazing; it's so cool that these doors are opening for you.

(and also why wouldn't people be enthusiastic to let you do things? Aside from the fact that you're super duper, which I'm sure you'll contest and all that, you're so obviously passionate about them that they know you're going to put the work in and therefore do a great job. You're probably a godsend to them ♥)

Some scientists are really shifty about letting students do anything of note. Toxic labs are everywhere~. xD I was scared I'd get saddled with questionnaire work, but this is exactly what I was looking for... if not better. I didn't think I'd be able to continue studying synaesthesia unless I went to London, which is the only place that explicitly supervises in it. I also feel like I've got a decent footing on the existing research, so in theory this should be a much easier experiment to set up. I just need participants! I'll do my best to sort that out, since it'll have to be a reading task again, but they have to be on campus this time.

Not to sound fluffy or anything, but I'm pretty sure that's some kind of sign; you're in the right place and you're going to do GREAT THINGS.

Seriously, though, it's awesome, and I'm so happy for you (even if I'm not terribly surprised... ^^)

Ah, I'm sorry I can't volunteer to help, but I'm sure you'll be able to find people.

Cool! I know it's been a while since we chatted, and I had an inkling you were in Wales now and it's cool to read it in more detail. Swansea sounds like a very atmospheric place. Is it a very large place? What's the library like? (I'm always asking that, but who knows, I might like to move and I want to know where the good libraries are!)

I'm happy to hear that things are going well in your studies, too! Getting in good with your professors and sharing in the excitement in your dissertation and experiments. I didn't know you did a project on synaesthesia! That's a fascinating condition (not that I'd want it, but having a sense of taste for anything specific, even if it's fake, would be novel for me).

Keep doing what you're doing. Your excitement comes through in your posts and I enjoy seeing it! :)

Indeed it has! How on earth are you, homie? ^^ I've missed your excellence across my interwebs.

It's really small, actually, considering it's a city. I could quite happily walk from one side to the other in maybe an hour or so. The library there isn't too bad, but to be honest I've heard that it's lacking in resources - things here aren't hugely well funded. To be honest, that's half the reason I came here. There's a lot less pressure when everyone's trying to do things in uncommon ways. More room to get creative. xD I know some of my friends didn't like it when they came to open days, but I find it really nice. It's just comfortable.

Synaesthesia was my project for undergrad last year. ^^ I did colour-grapheme pseudo-synaesthesia, which is sort of... murky waters of 'what the hell is this' at the moment. It's really fun trying to figure out if it's a good model for developmental synaesthesia, since there are two schools of thought. The first is that everyone's had synaesthesia as a child, to help them make sense of things, and some elements of that are shown in our language (eg. feeling blue, seeing red with anger etc). Some people might have just retained this. The second idea is that people who're hyperconnected with all their fancy neurons are just special and have it as something over and above what everyone else has ever experiences. The pseduo-synaesthesia thing might be retraining childhood synaesthesia, as per the first idea, or producing something like an association that's nowhere near what synaesthesia actually is. It's SO INTERESTING. But our experiment will have far too much noise, so I'll need to do the oxytocin study as my dissertation. Much safer, and I get to work an fMRI. <3

How're things at your end, dearest? I keep seeing you popping around on facebook.

I'm doing better! For the details on my absence, I posted a reality-heavy entry on my journal. I'm doing much better, though, and I've missed your excellence as well! I'd see you on facebook and I'm glad you're still doing great with your studies and just enjoying life. (Seems you left some of your stresses behind when you moved!)

Wow, sounds small and quaint! If you can walk across it in an hour then everything must be fairly accessible. It's not surprising that the library is under-funded, but that can be good motivation for libraries to get creative and figure out how to do more with less. It sounds like the perfect environment for you to thrive. You've always been pretty creative and a go-getter, so the setting is just working for you.

Ohh, I just read up on colour-grapheme pseudo-synaesthesia and I see what you mean about it being murky waters! Seems like there's a lot of work to be done, but that's why you're studying so you can poke around in there!

From what you've explained here of the two theories on senaesthesia I'd fall into the second camp that feels it's something you have or you don't. The brain can be wired ever so slightly (or damaged in a way) to mess up the way things are perceived/processed. My own experience with losing my sense of smell has been interesting. I'd get these phantom smells of things that aren't there (like rotting honey or mouldy burnt bread). That's left me and now any and all poop smells like sweet Thai chicken (yum?) and when watching commercials I'll hallucinate smells I see on TV (Seeing a Christmas tree makes me smell pine, a hamburger and I think there's a BBQ, etc.)

I just had a quick read - bro, you are one strong mofo. I'm really glad to see you back. <3 And yeah, being away from family is really relaxing. If I don't want to get involved in their crappy coping/angry times, I just don't answer the phone. It's great. xD

Thanks. x3 It does feel like a good fit. Though I know some friends back in Newcastle are kind of sad that it's about a 8 hour journey to get here. Still, they'll survive, I'm sure. As will I.

Go you! I usually get people pulling the 'oh. Science' face at me when I bring it up, so thanks for having a read. xD I'm not sure which camp I fall into yet, there's good evidence for both sides, I think. I think maybe some people are predisposed to keeping it, or experience it more consciously than others and in that way the experiences get encoded better or... something of the type. This experiment that I'm doing with brain stimulation might give a little bit of an idea in which way research on people with actual synaesthesia could go - since I'm having to try and create synaesthesia in order to study it's development. Little bit questionable as of yet, but for a lot of this stuff you don't know if it's going to mean anything until you go and do it. Either way, I'm excited to be using brain toys. xD

Those phantom smells sound really interesting, especially the fact that you get hallucinations triggered by seeing things. That's pretty cool, I must say. And I'll admit I'm trying to figure out how it happens. Also, high five - I also hallucinate smells, but only when I'm beyond tired and it's like 3am. Hurray for lack of sleep.

Hey, people can come visit (it's not like you're on a different continent!) and it does give you a chance to discover yourself away from family and friends. It sounds like you're adapting well, too.

Hey, science can be fascinating! I'll admit to not being so into it that I read it for fun, but when someone is talking science, I'll usually listen!

Are you focusing on creating visual synaesthesia? (Have you heard of any other types being created?) I remembered hearing of a bartender (it might have been mentioned in "The man who mistook his wife for a hat") who would taste ear wax whenever he heard a certain word. Hell, I'm thinking it could even be related to sympathy pains people get whenever they hear of someone hurting themselves.

I used to hallucinate smells before my accident, but it wasn't too often. My room once smelled like antiseptic and made me think of a hospital. Then it smelled like wet dog another night. I tried to approach the situation logically and sought out any logical explanations, but I couldn't find any.

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