Going out in the field to test new substances for Your Brain on Blank is fun, but every once in a while neuroscientist Shannon Odell has to take a few moments to answer some questions from our viewers. Join us in Shannon’s librarium for a session we like to call, Your Brain on Office Hours.


Here are some of the highlighted questions:

What’s a Ph.D. candidate?

After passing her Ph.D. qualifying exam, Shannon became a “Ph.D. candidate” and will have her doctoral degree in about a year when she defends her dissertation.

Why did you say “dumb little faces” when referring to those cute little puppies?

In this case, dumb was intended to be a compliment, as in, “I just want to squeeze their cute lil’ dumb lil’ faces.

Why do we forget things as our brains age?

The older you are, the less neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus) your brain will go through. It’s still the same great brain; it’s just not creating as many new cells.


Shannon also gives a pretty solid overview of what the major parts of the brain do. The brain is an incredibly complicated piece of body machinery, and there’s no way to blast through a brain explanation without simplifying it to an insane degree, but Shannon was up to the task. Since the brain is organized into four parts (cerebellum, brain stem, diencephalon, and cerebrum), she breaks down each region to talk about their individual functions.

Finally, Shannon dispels a pretty common myth about women’s brains vs. men’s: Which one is better suited for neuroscience? Well, it turns out the only thing that really matters is your desire to study a subject. Gender, race, and upbringing are irrelevant.

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