Thursday, January 13, 2011
Chinwe checks in on break!
Hey everyone! I’m writing to you from the University of Florida, in Gainesville. Last year I spent Winter Term at home with my family so I decided to do something way different this year. In case you’re new to the blog, over the summer I went to San Francisco to do research at the University of California. I enjoyed that so much, that I decided to see out another research position for Winter Term, and ta-da! Here I am!
My summer research consisted of working at a lab bench with mice and chemicals, so I decided I would try an alternative form of research. Although I’m a neuroscience major, I’m currently working in a neuropsychology lab. In this lab, I’m doing clinical research, meaning I’m working with people. Elderly people, more specifically.
I was lucky enough to get started right when my lab was beginning a new study, called The Vital Study. The aim of this study is to determine how cognitive training and physical exercise interact to improve the mental function of healthy elders. The physical exercise in this study consists of either walking on a treadmill or riding an exercise bike, depending on the physical ability of the participant. As for cognitive training, the participants will be playing different games on Wii Fit for the Nintendo Wii.
You have no idea how excited I am to be working video games, especially in this way. I love them, but I have zero skill whatsoever. To incorporate video games and science in one project (FOR SCHOOL CREDIT) is just so, so cool. Clinical research is a lot different than lab research, so I’m doing more paperwork and making more phone calls than ever; but, since the study is so video game heavy, I spent just as much time ‘testing’ games. A few days ago, I was instructed to go out, buy an Xbox 360 and play Dance Central until I got good at it (A future study is going to make use of the Xbox 360, Kinect so my supervisors wanted to check it out.).
Another fun aspect of my project is, since we’re working with elderly people the lab decided that it would be more convenient for them to not have to drive to testing sites. Instead, we’ve set up a testing site closer to the general community that our participants will come from. More specifically, the University of Florida has been given a condo in an assisted living community in which to run the study. I actually spend more time there than on campus, which is awesome because it’s so homey and quite opposite from the traditional lab setting.
Other than that, life’s a breeze. A lot of my friends from high school attend the University of Florida so when I’m not working, I’m just hanging out and catching up with people I haven’t been able to see in forever. As much fun as it is, I miss the team and am so excited to see everyone at the end of the month.