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Enrolling in a class to fulfill two requirements seemed like a no-brainer, especially when it pertained to a subject I had little background on. Neurochemistry has helped integrate so many independent topics from classes. It is quite a novel experience to take biochemistry, psychology, and sociology topics and mix them together in a greater understanding of how they are related. The way we went about learning each topic was helpful as well, thought unlike any other course I’ve had at Concordia. The unique design of the class was probably its greatest strength in passing on integrating concepts effectively. Overall, I felt it was a useful class for those looking into life sciences and chemistry topics.

At the start of the semester, I had only a basic understanding of biochemical molecules and on neuronal processes. Action potentials and ion channels weren’t completely foreign and neither were most areas of the brain and their responsibilities. What were truly novel were the pathways and backgrounds of hormones. The first few weeks centered on chemical background, which were useful, but confusing at times. It would have been helpful to have more prerequisite classes or worksheets to fill out to spend more time on fundamentals, but we all definitely learned a lot about neurochemistry those first few weeks.

When we began to look at specific articles, all the background work began to apply to real diseases that we had all encountered at some point in our lives. The diseases ranged from obesity to autism to concussions. Sometimes it would seem almost shocking that so much research had been dedicated to each area, or that so many diseases could be attributed to chemical imbalances, up regulations, or down regulations. By far, the biggest struggle was getting a real grasp on every part of each paper. I’m no expert on neurochemistry, and I likely never will be, but the depth to each paper was beyond what I could get in just one single week, or reading over a weekend. I could attribute each disease to its root cause, its social aspects and influences, and some side facts. I’m not sure if there would have been a better route than shifting from overall review, individual topic discussions, then group discussions, but some were better understood than others. Easily, the group discussions led to the best understanding around the topic and social aspects. Personally, I feel I participated a decent amount, as did a few others, but some others were shyer and held back contributions. For those that have a lot to contribute, the discussions are extremely beneficial. Some diseases, like Parkinson’s, I knew almost nothing about but I could socially discuss its implications with those who had personally encountered it in their families, etc and really get a grasp for the diseases. Possibly switching the group discussions to Wednesdays and discussing individual things Fridays would help moving such a broad idea to smaller specific things would aid in article understanding. It’s a thought, but the group discussions truly solidified the main concepts even if we occasionally ventured off topic. They were my favorite part of the class, and its most unique feature. No other science course offers this linear route with such non-linear methods, such as discussions and personal opinions. I did not initially think that discussions would be something I’d like or helpful in learning processes, but they were the exact opposite and I could not be more pleased with how they’ve helped me tackle neurological diseases’ interworkings.

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