The long term effect of my neuroscience degree is not about the extremely complex and detailed knowledge I have memorized to pass exams. It is the fact that I have a very solid foundation of neuroscience on which to build upon. In most areas I will have a basic understanding, in some areas I will have a very proficient understanding and in a few areas that I was (and still am) most interested in I will have an advanced understanding in. But, the real value of my degree is that I now have, at the very least, a basic understanding of just about any given field of neuroscience (behavioral, cognitive, immunology, endocrinology, virology, etc.) or any field related to neuroscience (genetics, epigenetics, optogenetics, stem cell therapy, etc.). The true value of studying neuroscience the past few years is not specifically what i’ve learned, but what I am now capable of learning. You can not just jump into a field like neuroscience, or chemistry, or physics and have any kind of comprehensive understanding of the science after a few months or perhaps even a year, no matter how hard you study. No matter how hard you work it takes a certain amount of time and a certain amount of exposure to the hundreds, thousands of concepts and ideas and theories and historical breakthrough’s to achieve any sort of grasp on your field as a whole. You need to hear things and read things over and over again if they are going to stick with you long term. It is like joining a new culture and learning a new language, quite literally in many aspects. You must get a feel for the science you’re studying, an understanding of it’s past and knowledge of it’s present state. Anyone can memorize brain related words and pathways but without context they are close to meaningless. I once heard that becoming an expert in a field of science takes a decade and I think this probably true. Three years ago I would not have been able to read a scientific article and come away with any real understanding. Now I feel confident that I can read almost any scientific article and come away with, at the very least, a proficient understanding of what I read, and that is what I am most proud of.
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