Our Wright State Neuroscience Club took a little trip to the Kent State Neuroscience Symposium last week.
Their little town is adorable and we realized they were not kidding when they called for snow. It was nice to hang out with some of my friends and listen to some insightful lectures about research behind sex differences in the brain.
Sue Carter, of the Kinsey Institute, spoke about her research in Oxytocin and pair bonding. I enjoyed her ability to share freely about her experiences as a mother and scientist. Sometimes I feel like I turn off expressing "the mother switch" to be as professional as possible (i.e. blend in), but she didn't do that. And I liked her for that.
The lecture that will alter my approach to research and interactions with my (future) patients, was given by Larry Cahill, of UC, Irvine. He expressed concern about the lack of motivation to consider sex differences in neurophysiology as a component to setting up research models and especially in drug trials. He was also cautious about identifying where these differences are, and of course, where they are not found. He was humble about his own previous assumptions, and I appreciated his passion about this. He was also careful to specify that sex differences are not another form of female oppression. Understanding these biological differences can help women's health (women tend to have more side effects after drugs are tested exclusively on men), and men's health too (some drugs can not get FDA approval that are effective in men but not women). Wrapping my mind about all of this, while also continuing my own capstone review on the microbiome's influence on stress behavior was really intriguing. Probably something I'll think about for life.