Year 13 ask the big questions at Brain Day

Year 13 ask the big questions at Brain Day

5 October 2023

How does the mammalian brain work? What happens when a brain becomes damaged? Does consciousness exist? These were just a few of the thought-provoking questions our Year 13s pondered over at this year’s Brain Day.

Each year, Berkhamsted welcomes Dr. Guy Sutton, an Honorary (Consultant) Assistant Professor in the Division of Psychiatry and the Founder of Medical Biology Interactive, to lead our Year 13 Psychology students in a day of dissections, debates, and degree-style learning. This year, students witnessed a live sheep brain dissection alongside two university-style lectures that explored neuroscience, behavioural genetics, and the divisive issue of consciousness.

Sutton established Medical Biology Interactive as a way to “take developments in medicine to a variety of groups, including A-Level students”. Following Berkhamsted Sixth’s aim to offer a stimulating and supportive transition between school and university, Sutton hopes Brain Day will “push students beyond A-Level study and give them a flavour for degree-level work”.

The lectures introduced students to relevant debates that are currently at the forefront of neuroscience. From whether humans have a right to brain privacy to how the development of AI will impact the study of our brains, Sutton introduced pupils to debates and questions in neuroscience that go beyond the curriculum. By involving students in such advanced discussions, Sutton ensures they feel ready to take on degree-level debates.

The second session of the day featured a live brain dissection during which Dr Sutton removed one side of a sheep’s brain. This session mirrored practical university ‘lab’ seminars and introduced students to the kinds of hands-on learning that will make up a big part of their week if they decide to study Psychology at degree level. Encouraging students to ask questions and to hold the brain themselves, Sutton inspired students to take their learning into their own hands.

Commendably, every student held the sheep’s brain with one brave Year 13 smelling the organ with Sutton’s permission! After washing their hands, the students were rearing for the final session of the day on the brain and tendencies for crime.

It was not just our Year 13s that got to- quite literally- pick the brain of Dr Guy Sutton. The professor and education consultant also invited Year 10 and Year 11 pupils who are interested in the study of psychology to a short lecture on the world of neuroscience. This lecture provided the younger pupils with the opportunity to consider whether psychology is a subject they would be interested in pursuing at A-Level and beyond.

Brain Day was highly beneficial, not only for preparing students for their upcoming Psychology A-Level exams, but also for wherever their interest in Psychology might take them in the future. Thank you to Dr Sutton for leading such an inspiring session!

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