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Thread: "Brain Training", or, I feel like my brain is dyin

  1. #1 "Brain Training", or, I feel like my brain is dyin 
    Forum Freshman Leukocyte's Avatar
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    So I'm in the middle of an almost 2 year long period between finishing my first degree and commencing a postgraduate degree. I'm working a lab job but it's repetitive and doesn't require much brain power.

    The other day I looked at an entrance exam for graduate students hoping to get into medicine that examined knowledge of the life and physical sciences. Basically it was testing knowledge of highschool/first year university chemistry, physics and biology knowledge tied into some pretty tricky questions.

    They were all questions I could've dealt with easily a few years ago, but I was really struggling as my work and study in the last couple of years hadn't required this kind of problem solving.

    On top of that, I've been noticing that my capacity for maths, in particular mental arithmetic and interpreting statistics/graphs is also far from what it used to be a couple of years ago.

    I'm wondering if any of you fellow scientists have suffered the same problems in the past and if there's any advice you can give for getting my brain back into shape?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
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    Yes. It's called practice and reeducation. If you don't use your mental skills they degrade.


    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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  4. #3 Re: "Brain Training", or, I feel like my brain is 
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    Write things down that you want to remember so that they are always there, ready to be reviewed. Buy new texts to keep up with the times and highlight the info you are interested in retaining.
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    Forum Masters Degree samcdkey's Avatar
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    Yeah, I find repetitive lab work diminishes my desire to read and ability to recapitulate.

    I've actually lost motivation for research because of the mindless boredom.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Yeah, I find repetitive lab work diminishes my desire to read and ability to recapitulate.

    I've actually lost motivation for research because of the mindless boredom.
    How much of your day is spent working in the lab?
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  7. #6  
    Forum Masters Degree samcdkey's Avatar
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    About 60 hours a week.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    About 60 hours a week.
    So..about 8 and a half hours a day if you count weekends...is that your all-inclusive time spent working a week, or do you have responsibilities outside of the lab as well?
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Learning new things is one of the best ways to keep your brain in shape. When you're in a lab where you only do those things you already know how to do and you're just a lab grunt, then you don't get much of that. Read articles and books in your field of interest, ask to learn new procedures, start looking into grad school NOW, find out who you want to work with, where you want to work, study for your tests, start writing your essays, etc. Just get going!
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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    Forum Masters Degree samcdkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    About 60 hours a week.
    So..about 8 and a half hours a day if you count weekends...is that your all-inclusive time spent working a week, or do you have responsibilities outside of the lab as well?
    No I no longer do lab work on weekends except essentials (change media, streak plates or other time limited stuff). Like paralith said think ahead and plan for the future. Have an alternative interest that gives you a mental break from grunt work. Previously I could leave the lab for short durations and took advantage of that to attend related training programs (powerpoint presentations, bionimerics) or attended humanities talks, book clubs and student groups. I found that these breaks helped me to work better.

    Now the work does not permit it so it's a bit more difficult to get away, so I cut down my weekend hours and take time off to do other fun things.

    I think it's important to have balance in your life. All work and no play etc

    Group support also helps, hang out with people who are interested in the same kind of work, who enjoy doing fun things and are spontaneous and encouraging
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    About 60 hours a week.
    So..about 8 and a half hours a day if you count weekends...is that your all-inclusive time spent working a week, or do you have responsibilities outside of the lab as well?
    No I no longer do lab work on weekends except essentials (change media, streak plates or other time limited stuff). Like paralith said think ahead and plan for the future. Have an alternative interest that gives you a mental break from grunt work. Previously I could leave the lab for short durations and took advantage of that to attend related training programs (powerpoint presentations, bionimerics) or attended humanities talks, book clubs and student groups. I found that these breaks helped me to work better.

    Now the work does not permit it so it's a bit more difficult to get away, so I cut down my weekend hours and take time off to do other fun things.

    I think it's important to have balance in your life. All work and no play etc

    Group support also helps, hang out with people who are interested in the same kind of work, who enjoy doing fun things and are spontaneous and encouraging
    Sounds like a plan. I do have other interests. I love weightlifting (as I've mentioned before), speaking German and learning about other Germanic languages (maybe Spanish too if there is time), singing and song writing (in private..haha), poetry and short story writing, and simply reading interesting books and magazines...If I do all of these activities well, I have little time for anything else..but they all make me happy, so it's ok. Doing important scientific research will take a lot of time, yes, although I don't need to weightlift often to maintain muscle mass, so I will save time there...and I've learned to skim books for important info to cut that time back. I think I'll make it somehow... :P At this point, I'm willing to get my BS and do a bit of gruntwork for awhile to learn the tricks of the trade...then later, I will hopefully be qualified and creative enough to do own research.
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    I noticed that all your interests have one thing in common: they don't require other people. One of the most overlooked aspects in science is the ability to communicate.

    Just a suggestion but you need to find an interest that requires socialising. Anything that requires you to relate to other people. Even dance lessons will do. Lab work is lonely anyway, so try and make your interests social.

    I don't know what I would do without the support I get from friends and family.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    I noticed that all your interests have one thing in common: they don't require other people. One of the most overlooked aspects in science is the ability to communicate.

    Just a suggestion but you need to find an interest that requires socialising. Anything that requires you to relate to other people. Even dance lessons will do. Lab work is lonely anyway, so try and make your interests social.

    I don't know what I would do without the support I get from friends and family.
    I still have 2.5 years of classes before I get a Bio degree...time to meet some friends/girls....hopefully find a girlfriend...if I lose some weight and get a car I know I can have a MUCH better social life..I'm stranded at home half the time right now, so I feel like I'm in fucking prison atm...I'm inside from when I wake up in the morning to maybe 5-6 pm sometimes...so getting out and working anywhere and seeing any other humans would be a plus...
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  14. #13  
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    If i were you i would start reading casual bits and pieces of science, if you get a good article it can flare an interest. as suggested (and so help me i don't do it often enough) do some practice, go over some of your notes from your degree study the basics are what make the degree in my opinion, after second year they get very detailed but probably won't help unless you do a post graduate research in that field.
    Stumble on through life.
    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodgod3rd
    If i were you i would start reading casual bits and pieces of science, if you get a good article it can flare an interest. as suggested (and so help me i don't do it often enough) do some practice, go over some of your notes from your degree study the basics are what make the degree in my opinion, after second year they get very detailed but probably won't help unless you do a post graduate research in that field.
    After the second year you can't remember all the details of your textbooks, can you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    After the second year you can't remember all the details of your textbooks, can you?
    hell no, which in fairness is pretty bad, seen as it wasn't too long ago.
    Stumble on through life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodgod3rd
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    After the second year you can't remember all the details of your textbooks, can you?
    hell no, which in fairness is pretty bad, seen as it wasn't too long ago.
    What's your job?
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  18. #17  
    Forum Masters Degree samcdkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I still have 2.5 years of classes before I get a Bio degree...time to meet some friends/girls....hopefully find a girlfriend...if I lose some weight and get a car I know I can have a MUCH better social life..I'm stranded at home half the time right now, so I feel like I'm in fucking prison atm...I'm inside from when I wake up in the morning to maybe 5-6 pm sometimes...so getting out and working anywhere and seeing any other humans would be a plus...
    There will always be a reason not to do something. I suggest you don't wait for things to happen before getting more sociable.
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  19. #18  
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    Not too long, as in I'm still here :P

    I'm in my third year of my undergraduate degree. But before anyone says how you could possibly feel like your brains losing its interest/function, as youre still learning,

    Well I spent my last summer after second year in a research lab and I felt it then (that Iwas losing my ability to do certain tasks, as mentioned in the original post)and Im going to be honest, I still haven't got my game on since September, last semester was not a disaster but I could have done better =)

    I stick by what I said a good interesting article flares my interest and encourages me not only to study new topics more often in my own time, but also review past topics which I have mostly forgotten.
    Stumble on through life.
    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodgod3rd
    Well I spent my last summer after second year in a research lab and I felt it then and Im going to be honest, I still haven't got my game on since September, last semester was not a disaster but I could have done better =)
    What kind of research were you doing?

    What did you feel?
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  21. #20  
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    That I was losing my ability to do certain tasks, as mentioned in the original post.
    (since added to my post cause i can see it made no sense to say i felt it then!)

    I was working in a research group which were using conducting polymers (Polypyrrole) as matrices for drug delivery and as biosensors. I was characterising their growth (The selected method was of course electrochemically as they could stimulate the matrix to release and up take molecules depending on charge redox like) in the selected dopant, sulfonated β-cyclodexterins.

    It was very interesting, don't get me wrong, but throughout the summer the repetitive ness and the lack of other learning (aside from all i learned in that feild) made me feel like i couldnt do othe simple tasks which before the summer i could rhyme off, for example stuff from my pharmacolgy courses which i really knew so well before starting.

    I know they are still there somwhere but just need to figure out a way to fine tune my brain to keep all the information relativly fresh :P
    Stumble on through life.
    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
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  22. #21  
    Forum Masters Degree samcdkey's Avatar
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    throughout the summer the repetitive ness and the lack of other learning (aside from all i learned in that feild) made me feel like i couldnt do othe simple tasks which before the summer i could rhyme off, for example stuff from my pharmacolgy courses which i really knew so well before starting.
    Curious, I was having the same problem.

    I wonder how widespread it is.
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