Author Archives: Taylor M Lender

How Images and Imagination Can Effect Productivity


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Throughout the entire semester, Andrew has been giving advice on productivity and time management. His recurring suggestion, not procrastinating, obviously is sound advice, but with the end of the semester drawing to a close, it is getting more difficult to keep up effective routines. For example, I have noticed that I keep interrupting my work to get a salty, sugary, or carb-y snack. This pattern reoccurs at the end of all my past semesters; it is like an addiction.   To justify taking a break, I get unhealthy food. NOT OK. Also, I find myself staring into space daydreaming about finals being over and having holiday fun at home.  I justify day dreaming as being motivation, but is it really just a waste of time?  For this blog post, I will initially look at research on breaking food habits to try to stop my snack-procrastination-scheme.  Then, I will look into daydream research to see if it is beneficial to my productivity or not.  Overall, I hope learn what will help me stay most successful and productive for the end of the semester.


I found one study that investigated if priming could change unhealthy eating habits. In the article,”Exposure to diet priming images as cues to reduce the influence of unhealthy eating habits” the sample size consisted of 139 girls who wanted to snack less. The experimental group was shown an image of a healthy and attractive person.  The idea is that viewing an image of an ideal and desired body type will prevent participants from eating unhealthy, which would cause participants to not look as healthy as the attractive women in the picture. Meanwhile, the control group was showed a picture of an animal.  Since no one (hopefully) believes that eating healthier will help them look like an animal, the picture is considered neutral and should not influence eating habits.  By having the control go through a similar process as the experimental group, this group also helps limit confounding variables that could effect the results.  Overall, the results found that the experimental group was less likely to eat junky snacks as oppose to the control.  Therefore, the image of the healthy person helped break unhealthy snacking habits.


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Does this mean I should start looking at pictures of super models, ultra-athletic women, or famous, pretty people anytime I want a snack? I am not sure. The study was relatively small and did not mention if the women in the experimental group actually lost any weight over a period of time. The motivation behind wanting to snack less could be a confounding variable.  Even though the women all wanted to limit snacking, maybe the people in the experimental group had specific weight loss goals, and therefore, were more motivated to avoid snacking after looking at a thin person.  The  participants in the control group might have wanted to snack less to avoid procrastination (like me!) and might have felt more inclined to look at a cute animal picture to avoid work.  Personally, I think that this method might just waste time and cause me to feel bad about my own physical appearance. With that being said, if I have more difficulties with nixing my junk food- procrastination scheme, I might give priming a shot.


After reading those results, I continued thinking about the potential power of images. In addition to eating junk food as a form of procrastination, I also daydream a lot when I have been studying many hours.  For example, I will start to image the assignment completed in a timely fashion, getting an A on it, and being able to work ahead on other assignments.  Suddenly, it is 15 minutes later before I snap out of my day dream.  According the previously  mentioned study, images of the end – goal (the healthy person) can change behavior.  So I was wondering if day dreaming about an ideal future will help me change study habits and work smarter rather than being a waste of time.  In the article  “Positive fantasies about idealized future zap energy” ,  the third study mentioned in the article investigated this question of imagination and performance.   In this study, 40 participants were randomly assigned to either the experimental group, where the group was asked to imagine a successful week, or a control group, which was not instructed to imagine an ideal week.  To my surprise, the researchers found that those who daydreamed where less energized/motivated to complete the tasks necessary to achieve a successful week. Even though the experimental group felt less nervous about the upcoming to-dos of the week than the control, the experimental group had less successful weeks.


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As per usual, my concern with this study is the small sample size. Despite the size, this study still raises a lot of questions regarding the previous study. If the priming images helped those participants achieve a goal by eating less, then why does visualizing an ideal week not help people stay motivated to achieve their goal?

Maybe the priming images are harsher than the happy daydreams and therefore more effective? When I look at a super model, I know that I do not look like them, and there is no lying to myself. On the other hand, when I am daydreaming, I confidently imagining myself in some fictional state. Therefore, I have a false sense of success and security when I am daydreaming.  Rather, when comparing myself to a healthy person, I have to confront the sometimes cold but honest truth.

Furthermore, maybe the priming study works because looking a picture of a healthy person is quick and directly relates to diet.  Meanwhile, daydreaming can waste a lot of time and does not relate directly to one specific behavior regarding productivity.

Since both of these methods seem time consuming and potentially dangerous to my self-esteem, I think my motivation for the semester will be to try to think about only one assignment or task at a time. I will have to see if that works. Wish me luck!

-Taylor Lender,%20H.,%20&%20Oettingen,%20G.%20(2011).%20JESP.pdf

Purposeful Breathing


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With the end of the semester closing in, the slue of papers, assignments, and exams are starting to pile up. This semester, I took on 23 credits, and I have been trying to work stress-relieving practices into my day to increase my focus and overall well-being. I have gotten many suggestions including exercising more, simply dropping a class, or mediation. I tried meditation by just trying to clear my mind for 10 minutes during the day. While this gives me a nice ten-minute break, I can’t help but want to focus on something to keep my mind from wandering to my to-do lists. My friends who meditate suggested focusing on breathing. For this blog, I wanted to learn if breathing could help my health in these last busy weeks of the semester.


The first study I came across tested the effectiveness of Sudarshan Kriya yogi breath. This style of breathing focuses of breathing deeply varying from long to short, quick breathes in a rhythmic fashion. The study’s sample size was 25 people who had major depressive disorder.   The null hypothesis is that the Sudarshan Kriya breath would have no affect on the participants. While the alternative hypothesis is that the breathing technique will affect the participants. The control group did not practice this technique at all, and then the experimental group practiced the breath once a day for eight weeks. At the end of the eight weeks, the experimental group improved on multiple different mental health scales. Therefore, the researchers had to accept the alternative hypothesis because this form of breathing had an effect on the participant’s health.

The sample size for this study is small and specific to those with major depressive disorder.  Furthermore,  it would be be beneficial for the control group to do some form of relaxing, even if they just sit for a period of time.  The study did not specify if the control did anything.  Still, the results look promising. I wonder if this breathing method could help people, including myself, who are not diagnosed with depression but just are stressed out.


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As I continued my search, I found a study that tested the Sudarshan Kriya style of breathing on a group of healthy people. The sample size was a bit larger with 103 people, and the null and alternative hypothesis are the same as the previous studies. While the experimental group practiced the breathing for six weeks, the control group relaxed for the same amount of time. Since the control group did something for 10 minutes (relaxing), I think this study has even more merit because it reduces confounding variables. Once again, the results deemed that those in the experimental group had a decrease in stress and depression and an increase in perceived optimism, and the researchers accepted the alternative hypothesis that Sudarshan Kriya breathing benefits health and well-being.


During my search, I kept coming across more research articles that supported that Sudarshan Kriya breathing had health benefits. What I still do not understand fully is the mechanism. How can doing someting so simple, breathing, improve so much in the body?  According to Harvard Health publications, deep breathing, which is a charateristic of the Sudarshan Kriya technique, generates more of an oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. This exchange is supposed to lower blood pressure and calm heart rate.  Since the benefits of Sudarshan Kriya are so vast ranging from emotional, mental, and physical benefits, I am curious if this technique has to do more than just generate more of an oxygen exchange to improve so much in the body. Both studies also noted that there was no harm when using this breathing method. Since there is no health risks by trying to incorporate Sudarshan Kriya into a normal day and it suppose reduces depression, anxiety, and other really harmful heatlh complications, students like myself would benefit from trying this method for a few weeks. I know that I will be replacing my normal mediation time with Sudarshan Kriya breathing techniques for the final stretch of this busy and stressful semester.

-Taylor Lender

Alternative Birth Control


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Like many college students, I watch some Youtubers for weekly entertainment. One of the channels I follow is called Femmehead, where Victoria, the Youtuber, talks about clean eating, minimalism, and all things regarding menstruation and birth control.  She swears by FAM, the fertility awareness method, as her main form of birth control. Since I had not heard of this form of birth control before, I was curious and skeptical. After looking up some terms, Victoria seems to use the sympto-thermal method of FAM. With this specific method of FAM, she takes her basal-body temperature right when she wakes up at the same time every morning. In addition to that, she has to test her cervical mucus to see if it has an egg white consistency.  Both a change in temperature and consistency of cervical mucus indicates the ovulation period. During this fertile window, couples are supposed to refrain from sex or use other forms of birth control. Overall, this type of natural birth control seems to leave room for a lot of human error but also eliminates the negative side effects of other forms of birth control. Therefore, I wanted to dig more into the research regarding the effectiveness of this method.



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In one longitudinal study, researchers kept track of around 900 women who use the sympto-thermal method. After about one year, the researches recorded 1.8/100 unintended pregancies for those who did not use the method perfectly. Imperfect use meant that couples had intercourse during the fertile window. As for perfect users, only .6/100 had unintended pregnancies.


Since this study had such a large sample size and followed women over a period of time, this seems like a reliable study, and the results showed that the sympto-thermal method is effective at preventing unintended pregnancy, even when compared to other forms of birth control. For example, oral contraceptives result in unintended pregnancies 9/100 times for imperfect use and 1/100 times with perfect use.  Furthermore, oral birth control can have many side effects like weight gain, mood fluctuation, a decrease in libido etc.  Therefore, if the sympto-thermal method really is so effective and symptom free, why haven’t I heard about it before?


As I continued my basic Google search, I started seeing the statistic of 25% failure rate from FAM method. After finding some more research, I found a study that randomly assigned over 1,000 women to use either the ovulation method or the sympto-thermal method, both are consider fertility awareness methods.  I already have described the sympto-thermal method above, but the ovulation method is when the discharge around the vaginal opening is monitored. The last day the discharge is slippery marks when ovulation should be occurring. After 12 months, the failure rate was 16.6/100 for those who used the sympto-thermal method and 34.9/100 for those who used the ovulation method.

Wow! These results were a lot worse than from the previously mentioned study. This study also noted that many of the pregnancies were due to confusion about the method or not strictly following the rules. The study went on to note that failure rates for perfect use should have been 0 for sympto-thermal method and 6/100 for ovulation method.  Even though the perfect-use numbers deem the sympto-thermal and ovulation method effective, I do not understand how the researchers calculated these number. Also, the ovulation method seems to be not effective because it relies on the variability of perception and biology between each woman.

Even though this study found many different rate, I now have a better understand of why I see failure rates with such variability between different websites.  There could be potential confirmation bias for different results and statistics.  For example, many Catholic groups, whom do not agree with certain forms of birth control, might cite studies that promote FAM.  On the other hand, gynecologists and people who want to distribute other forms of birth control might cite other articles or find results against FAM.

Despite the differences between the studies, both mentioned that some participants dropped out of the study because they did not like the method. There seems to be a lot of confusion on the internet about what exactly FAM is and the actual effectiveness of it.  The FAM method, specifically the sympto-thermal method, seems to take a lot of personal awareness, self-discipline, and a consistent lifestyle routine to be successful.  Those who would benefit from FAM are women who react poorly to other forms of birth control, do not have access to any other options, or want to have a deeper connection/understanding with their own bodies and fertility.


In class, we discussed risk. In the case of contraceptive use, the risk is pregnancy. The exposure is frequent, usually a few days each month (fertility window), and the hazard or consequences of being pregnant are life changing. So, until more research is done, and more precise ways of using FAM and the sympto-thermal method is taught, then it seems less risky to stick with a form of birth control that has been tested more and is less complicated. Overall, if someone is not experiencing any problems with their normal form of birth control, I would not recommend switching to FAM.

-Taylor Lender–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/,,20408202,00.html#headache-dizziness-breast-tenderness-0 

Should I Eat a Gluten-Free Diet?


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On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we visited my father’s side to celebrate the holiday. My aunt prepared dinner and it was not the conventional fest. Every part of the meal was gluten-free, and she substituted normal ingredients for seemingly healthier ingredients. My dad is the only person in my family who has celiac disease, but my aunt makes gluten-free everything all the time. This same aunt was raving about a website where she orders BPA-free canned food. This reminded me of the pop quiz we took in class regarding BPAs. The class concluded that BPAs might not be so detrimental to overall health because we do not fully understand BPA effect on the body. Meanwhile, all my aunts swore that BPAs would kill me before my 30th birthday. These same women also swore that a gluten-free diet made them feel happier and healthier despite having seemingly healthy and normal gastrointestinal function. Instead of just taking their word on gluten-free diets, I wanted to explore the question myself: should I follow a gluten-free diet?

Since there seems to be such a negative connation with gluten, I wanted to look into what gluten actually is. According to an article in Live Science, gluten is a made up of wheat, barely, and rye.  To me, this protein initially sounds harmless. Since my dad developed celiac disease, I wanted to learn how he could grow up eating gluten and now gets sick if he eats a slice of pizza or a piece of toast. In the same article, the author explained that the immune system could mistake gluten, which is indigestible, as a threat to the body. Then, immune system attacks the gluten and kills off parts of the intestinal wall as collateral damage.  Eventually, the person cannot eat gluten anymore. Now, gluten does NOT seem so harmless to me.

Still, why do my aunts claim to feel better when they eat a gluten free diet even though they do not have identifiable gastrointestinal problems? After sifting through research, I came across a term that could explain: non-celiac gluten-sensitivity. The study that seemed most reliable was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. To start, 134 participants ate a gluten-free diet for 3 weeks. Only 101 participants stayed in the trial when they were randomly assigned to consume gluten or not in a week. The null hypothesis was that changing the diets from gluten-free to gluten would have no effect on the participants. The alternative hypothesis was that the diet shift would cause symptoms in the participants. At the end of the study, 28 people in the experimental group claimed they felt gluten symptoms such as anxiety, unclear mind, and diarrhea. With that being said, 14 people in the placebo group reported the same thing. The researchers had to reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis even though there were not any measurable factors for those who did feel symptoms and for those who did not feel symptoms.


Overall, this study seems reliable since the sample size was relatively large, and it was a double-blind experiment. My takeaways from the study are that there is not a clear mechanism for gluten sensitivity because there is not any identifiable damage to the intestines.  My guess, is that the immune system just is starting to break down cells of the intestinal wall, and it might not yet be considered celiac disease. Still, gluten sensitivity seems like a large placebo effect. Many people in the placebo group felt symptoms from gluten even though they were not eating gluten.  Those who felt symptoms in the control group could not be differentiated by certain characteristics from those in the experimental group. Since many famous stars say that gluten-free is better and many health foods highlight their gluten-free logos, it is easy to think that gluten is terrible and become more at risk for experiencing a placebo effect. After looking at this study, I think gluten-free might be a fad.


Even if gluten-sensitivity is just a placebo effect, I wondered if I should still try it out the diet anyway.  If the diet did no harm, it might be worth trying it out and seeing if I fee any health benefits. When I was looking for information about the gluten-free diet, I found a study that looked at a 3 day self report from people who ate gluten-free diets. These people reported that they got less than the recommended amount of fiber, iron, and calcium from these diets. The women reported to be getting less than half the recommended amount in each category.


Even though the sample size was not specified in this report and there is the possibility of human error when logging the food.  This study still raises concern for people who eat gluten free. It seems like people are not getting the nutrients they need from these new trendy foods. While it would be beneficial to review more studies similar to this one, it does not seem healthier to eat gluten free.


All of this research and considering my fathers celiac disease got me thinking about risk again. I am not sure what the likelihood of me getting celiac disease is. It seems like if I enjoy bread and other gluten-y food items in moderation, I could lessen my chances of getting celiac. If I do get celiac disease, the hazard would result in me adjusting to a gluten-free diet, which I could do. If that happens, hopefully the gluten-free products will be enhanced and fortified with enough nutrients to be considered healthy. In the mean time, I do not think it is a health risk for me to enjoy the stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner and a freshly baked sourdough sandwich at lunch. Overall, I think I continue to enjoy a gluten-inclusive diet.

-Taylor Lender

Why Do I Always Feel So Sleepy After Thanksgiving Dinner?

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Every year on Thanksgiving, I end up half asleep on the couch after gorging myself with loads of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, etc. When I look around my living room, I see that the majority of my family is following suit, i.e. lazily lounging around the living room with half-closed eyes. Since I can remember, my family members told me that tryptophan and carbs is the culprit for my overwhelming sleepiness. In this blog, I will explore if tryptophan really is the reason I feel tired after Thanksgiving dinner.


First, I wanted to learn why tryptophan is linked to tiredness anyway. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the amino acid, tryptophan, leads to an increase of serotonin, which induces sleep. In addition to turkey containing tryptophan, meals lead to an increase of tryptophan are considered to be high in carbohydrates, and these meals have a higher glycemic index.  In the first study I found, researches investigated how different levels of glycemic index affected sleep onset in 12 healthy, young men (ages 18-35). The null hypothesis is that glycemic index, and therefore tryptophan levels, do not affect sleep onset. The alternative hypothesis is that high or low glycemic levels will affect the time of sleep onset. To test the hypothesis, the men randomly were given a meal with Manatma rice which had a low glycemic index or Jasmine rice that had an high glycemic index about four hours before bedtime. After measuring sleep onset in accordance with glycemic index over three weeks, the study concluded that those who ate meals with a high glycemic index had an early onset of sleep of 9-6.2 minutes as oppose to sleep onset of 17.5-6.2 minutes.   Therefore, this study accepted the alternative hypothesis because the men who ate the rice with a higher glycemic index fell asleep faster than men who ate rice with a lower glycemic index.

First off, this study had a small, narrow sample size. This study would be more credible if the sample size was larger. Also, the onset of sleep happened at least four hours before the men tried to sleep. In my family’s and my case, we feel tired about thirty meals after our meal. Furthermore, the participants ate rice and not turkey, heaps of potatoes, pie, cheese plates, etc. Since many foods are carbohydrate-heavy, including certain types of rice, I would expect to experience this overwhelmingly tired feeling when I eat these types of meals. I eat rice, potatoes, beef, and other meals that have a high glycemic index all the time, and I do not experience the same overwhelming tiredness I feel on Thanksgiving. Maybe there could be something else about Thanksgiving dinner that contributes to my sleepiness.

There is a chance that the tired feeling could be a placebo effect. Since everyone says I should feel tired, so my brain and body believes it.  Then, it is easy to curl up on my couch and feel like resting. On the other hand, the stress and intense preparation for the holidays including cooking, cleaning, traveling, and mediating dinner table political debates could just exhaust everyone. Even if turkey or the carb-heavy meal complete with potatoes and stuffing does make me tired, I enjoy the annual fest so much, that I would not change my habits otherwise.

-Taylor Lender

“Oh, you like my blazer? Does that mean I am hired?”

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:11 am: approximately 12 hours until the career fair…

With piles of clothes draped across the couches, hanging on the stair railing, and shoes piled up on the kitchen floor, I yelled across the sea of clothes to my roommate, “Emma!? Does the gray jacket look unprofessional?”

“Wait…just let me finish zipping my dress…ok, let me see.” With pursed lips and her hand resting on her chin, Emma scans my outfit head to toe.   After what feels like an hour of inspection, Emma reaches a verdict, “ I think the plain white shirt is safe, and I like the black pants. I think you can get away with your jacket because of the neutral color and tailored fit. Just make sure you keep your jacket buttoned when you talk to the recruiters.”

“Ok. Thanks! Why do I have to keep the jacket buttoned anyway?”

“WHO KNOWS! Ugg… it is just one of the many little rules we have to follow or we will not have a future. My professional development advisor told me a buttoned

jacket seems more respectful or something.”

Just then my boyfriend, who is frantically re-formatting his resume for the umpteenth time, yells down, “Wait… I NEED a jacket? I thought a tie and button up shirt was ok?!” Emma and I look at each other with eyes wide and our jaws dropped. Emma mouths, “He’s done for…”

piles-of-clothes Click here to visit site


Was the impromptu living room fashion show necessary?   PSU fall career days warrant a lot of hope, excitement, and stress for students looking for a job or internship. In order to make a day of navigating crowds of sweaty students, waiting in lines, and trying to impress tired recruiters worth it, it takes major prep work. I think that deciding what to wear to these recruiting events is even more difficult than formatting a resume or practicing an elevator pitch. When so many college students do not feel like they can afford a well-pressed suit or are unsure of where to even start, finding an outfit seems stressful and feels like a lot of pressure. After seeing many of the recruiters wearing open-toed shoes, more than one piece of jewelry, or sporting a fun colored shirt, I started to question if it is worth the stress of trying to look a certain way for the fair. Does it really matter if I wear a pink button-up shirt instead of white or blue one? Can my jacket be more blue than navy? Does it matter if I look a certain way for recruiters?


After doing some web surfing, I found an article, “Workplace Wisdom; Successful First Impressions” written by Andrea Nierenberg. She credited the Nierenberg Group and New York University’s Management Institute with surveying United States workers about first impressions. The article lists the top two results as good listening skills (37%) and appearance (35%). The article did not specify the sample size in this correlation study. Since the article noted that it was nation-wide, I assume that the sample size is large enough for the information to represent an overall opinion. (Since I do not know the details of the sample, I cannot know excatly how representative this survey is based on the informaton in this article. ) Assuming the study is representative, I was shocked to see that listening skills had a similar rating to appearance. At the career fair, it is loud and crowded, so it is difficult to actually communicate with employers.   If students can show signs of listening like keeping eye contact, nodding the head, and using other non-verbal’s, they can influence the recruiter’s impression of them just as much as their attire can. Regardless of this interesting piece of information, dress and appearance still is a top influencer on first impressions.

Even though this was not an experiment with a manipulated independent and dependent variable, I still think the study has merit. The conclusion: dress to impress. Even though it can be a hassle, it is worth spending time on appearance. If students spend so many hours writing resumes, doing extra work in school and the community, and researching companies endlessly, it would be a shame for sloppy or unprofessional appearance to overshadow all that hard work. If you got an interview after the career fair and are still unsure about your wardrobe, buy the suit!


Post-Concussion Syndrome and Sleeping in Class

The Problem:

As a junior college student, I am having problem that I have never experienced before: falling asleep in class. This is not to say that I have never been tempted to lay my head down on a desk or have never drifted off for a second or two. This year, it is more intense. I will be paying attention in class and then my vision will start to double or I will not be able to visually focus on anything. Even though I recognize that these symptoms are a precursor to me falling asleep, I cannot stop it. The voice in my head is screaming STAY FOCUSED, but it is useless. After my vision becomes unclear, I do not even recognize the exact moment when I fall asleep. Then, I wake up confused and upset mid-class after about 15 minutes. This situation has happened to me at least once a day on my three busiest school days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) since the start of school, and it is downright frustrating. I want to understand a possible explanation as to why this is happening to me.


This is an example of how I start to see right before I knock out in class. Click Here to visit the page where I got this image.

Background Information:

At the end of last semester, I got a serious concussion. I am a sleepwalker, and I was fighting someone in my dream. In reality, I smacked my head of my bedroom wall. Four months later, I still experience minor symptoms. I get headaches and dizzy if I work too long at my computer or read for extensive periods of time. When I was recovering from my concussion, I experienced this overwhelming sensation of needing to fall asleep when I tried to overwork myself.  Now, I have a similar experience when I am in class for a long time. Could my past concussion still be affecting me now? Is this the why I keep falling asleep in class?

What I Learned:

According to Mayo Clinic, there is a disorder called post-concussion syndrome. The site says that post-concussion syndrome can affect a person for a long time after their concussion. It seems that the symptoms, if any, are most likely to be experienced within a year after the injury, but they syndrome could last longer. The Mayo Clinic Staff lists some of the symptoms that match what I am experiencing including being tired, losing focus, and getting dizzy.

My Thoughts:

Mayo Clinic’s description of post-concussion syndrome matches what I am experiencing. With that being said, I have not seen a doctor to officially diagnose me with post-concussion syndrome. On my last visit with my concussion specialist, my doctor said that it may take awhile to be symptom-free, and if I experience symptoms, I should just rest. Since I am a busy college student taking 23 credits, resting anytime I feel like it is needed is not an option. Mayo Clinic’s webpage explains how there are not really any medications or treatments to easily cure my post-concussion syndrome-like symptoms.

My Conclusions:

 After reading about post- concussion syndrome, I think I can correlate  my constant falling asleep as a residual symptom of my concussion. Since I have not been tested or seen a doctor, I cannot 100% confirm that I have this syndrome.  There is still a possibility that falling asleep in class is due to chance or a third, confounding variable. For example, a potential third variable could be that I actually just need more sleep every night. Another confounding variable is how much I eat on my busy days. Since I have five classes in a row on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I only have time to eat some crackers or a piece of hand fruit in between the class changes. My energy levels might be low. In the meantime, I am going to try to take a break when I start to notice my vision getting blurred. I think it is worth leaving class for a five minute mental break instead of falling asleep for fifteen minutes in the front row.


Why Doesn’t Science Feel Human?

Similar to most of my peers, Science 200 is fulfilling my general education science requirement. Being a student of the liberal arts, I take my general education requirements seriously. When searching for any gen-ed, I scrounge for an interesting and engaging class rather than a blow-off course. I was asking my friends about what classes they had taken and enjoyed. My roommate, Anna James, took this class her freshman year here at Penn State. Since Anna is a Type-A student, I trusted her opinion of the course. Instead of calling the class a “joke” or a “blow-off”, Anna said she LOVED the course because the topics were intriguing and something she did not consider conventional science. She mentioned that writing the blogs were manageable because she wrote about subjects that pertained to her daily life. Anna also mentioned that she felt energized after lecture instead of drained and tired.   After seeing topics like “Are men toxic” and “Is your reasoning hopeless” on the syllabus, I knew this class would keep me engaged in the material; I am hooked.

Currently, I am majoring in English with concentration in rhetoric, and I also am a psychology major. Both majors are not considered to be core sciences. In my previous schooling, my science classes have been boring and annoying. I have been annoyed with my science courses because these classes were focused more on testing a student’s grit and perseverance rather than focusing on engaging students with the material. All of my teachers continuously lectured about how their class will separate the tough from the weak. Even though I have earned satisfactory marks in all of these science courses, I did not feel like I truly learned about the material. Instead, I just exercised my homework endurance. Furthermore, all of my past science courses focused on teaching the foundations of science. Even though every scientist needs a foundation in science…duh…the classes never discussed how the class material related to modern-day research and discoveries. There was a disconnect between the basic science and the exciting scientific research that happens everyday. I am excited for a change of pace with this course.

Since science has seemed boring and aggressive, I am not a science major. Psychology excites me because it is so new! There is so much research potential for understanding why we are the way we are. In class, potential advancements in mental health were mentioned, and my ears perked up. I am fascinated by how much we do not know or understand about each other and ourselves. My other major, English, focuses on rhetoric and composition. I enjoy studying how we communicate and persuade one another. Reading offers a unique understanding about social and personal issues over the course of centuries. Both of these majors consist of something innately human that draws on my interests. Thus far, science has seemed so non-human despite it being the core of our existence; that is why I am not a science major.

-Taylor Lender

alien science