…fun with turtles…

So yeah, I’m working for Dr. Michael Ariel here at Saint Louis University in the Pharmacology and Physiology department for the next six weeks. This is the first of three lab rotations that I need to carry out for the Ph.D. before I can start my actual research work. Dr. Ariel’s focus is the brain, specifically, the reflex action that causes muscles to move your eyes when you turn your head. As he explains it, when you turn your head, your eyes want to stay focused on a given location, so the muscles cause your eyes to stay on that position while your head moves from side to side. He does this work in turtles, which is somewhat rare in a world where mice and rats tend to dominate research. He uses turtles because, this specific box turtle, can live underwater in the winters of Wisconsin for up to 5 months without having to come up for oxygen (crazy, eh?!). Well, when you remove the brain tissues from the turtle’s body, the tissues will actually stay alive for a few days without being attached to the rest of the body…something that mice/rats/us can’t do…

Currently, I’m helping Dr. Ariel set up his new $70,000 camera device that will record brain stimulation. We will put a voltage-sensitive dye into turtle brain tissue and then shock it with an electric pulse; the neurons are then excited the response travels throughout the neurons along certain pathways. The camera reads the changes in the dye so that we can trace where the signal starts and stops. Neat, eh? 😉

Thus far, the work has been interesting, but it’s difficult getting used to 8 hour workdays again… Now that the camera is mostly set up, I’m sure I’ll be working on other projects by mid- to late-next week… Fascinating times, I tell you…

…and on a side-note, I get to play with my new praise band tonight at Webster Hills UMC…those drums won’t know what hit ’em…

4 Replies to “…fun with turtles…”

  1. Wow, that turtle thing sounds freakin’ sweet.
    Also, I don’t want to hear about you in another praise band. I’m not happy about it. You loser

  2. so…..since these turtles have special powers are they like mutant turtles??? Maybe they ran into some kinda weird Wisconsonian (??) green ooze and that’s what makes them able to not breathe for months. Dude, that’s crazy….T-U-R-T-L-E POWER!!!!

  3. I have a turtle story. When I was 8 or 9 years old I saw a negro man in louisiana, mo dressing (not to go on a date, but to prepare for eating) a rather large snapping turtle that someone caught and brought to him for food as he was rather poor and apparently enjoyed turtle. I only new him as “Mr. B”. He proceeded to drive a 6″ spike through the center of the turtle’s shell into a large wooden plank. He then used a sharp knife to slice the turtle in two between the upper and lower shells. That was amazing enough, but the best part was when he had gained entry to the entrails fo the turtle he made sure to remove the eggs, both in the shell and those that had not formed shells yet and to save them for the next day’s breakfast. YUM! He said he would make turtle soup with the meat and bones. To my knowledge, he did not use the brain or head – which makes me wonder if maybe he put the turtle’s head on the table with him so that the turtle could appreciate the sacrifice she had made to a poor man’s hunger.

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