The Brain- A Unique Rabbit Hole | Teen Ink

The Brain- A Unique Rabbit Hole

October 15, 2019
By sarlar03 BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
sarlar03 BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Rabbit holes are dangerous, especially when fallen into. And when decisions need to be made, they become even more dangerous. Now, I am a dedicated student who always values time management. I rarely find myself in rabbit holes. I am pragmatic and attentive, but as soon as neuro- is typed into my keyboard, I am gone. 

I did not discover this until my sophomore year of Honors English. I had to craft a research paper on any subject of my choosing. For someone as indecisive as I, simply picking a topic seemed like the hardest part of the project, and my intuition proved to be correct. Most students jumped in, skimming through CNN and The New York Times. I just sat there observing my surroundings, hoping something would leap at me with inspiration.  

The hexagonal table in front of me matched five others, all spaced throughout the room. On the back wall, bookshelves sat, packed with books from Macbeth to A Tale of Two Cities to Kite Runner. This typical high school English classroom did not provide any help with coming up with an idea for my essay. I yearned for something deeper, more interesting than typical love, drama, or social issues. So I turned instead to the internet. I opened up google and stared at the blank search bar, hoping to absorb ideas through simple diffusion, but I still had not left square one by the end of the allotted research time. I overheard my peers chattering about Armageddon, deforestation, basketball, and I felt defeated. 

My brain sometimes seems to think without telling me, and this exemplified one of those occasions, because I realized a lightbulb had begun blinking in my head, and I didn’t know how it got there. So I jumped to the occasion before the idea expired and typed my ingenious plan for a short research paper into the google search bar: the brain- a topic of interest of mine, but nothing I had delved into before this point.

Simple, easy, short, right? Yeah, I skipped over the trail and into a rabbit hole instead. I drained almost two hours worth of class scanning medical journals and resources from anything from WebMD to Mayo Clinic until I had filled my doc with tabs on anything from neuroanatomy to the chemical reactions that occur in synaptic clefts. I learned that the connections in neurons are flexible and can change in a matter of seconds. But how and why? I learned that the smallest imbalance of chemicals can alter the entire process of the brain. But how and why? I learned about the location of the amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and the relationship between these complex structures that defines the way we think and act. But how and why?

The ability to answer so many questions and yet still have too many left to count mesmerized me. It seemed like walking through a never-ending library with millions of facets that each led to mysteries just waiting to be contemplated. After that, writing the essay felt restrained- the topic seemed tiny, shallow- and I yearned to learn more.

The brain is, in my opinion, the single most interesting and awesome part of life. The ability to know so much and yet so little at the same time seems to me like a challenge. I would love spending an entire day or even week learning from books, videos, speakers, classes, websites, etc. about the brain. That is, perhaps, the only rabbit hole I will dive brain-first into, and I hope to find a hand-hold within that rabbit hole so I can pursue this interest past my own time and find the place where the rabbit hole leads to a profession.



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