Final Day

*Warning:This post may have some emotionally disturbing content for some readers.*


My last day was one of the most interesting and exciting days at the lab, which made leaving even harder. On many Fridays of the year, the surgical staff in the neuroscience wing of the hospital invite students and other professionals to watch autopsies and dissections of brains from those who have donated their organs for educational purposes. On my last Friday, my lab was invited to come observe.



Before heading into the dissection I was mostly excited. I had seen rat, sheep and pig brain dissections before, but never human brains. I was eager to see how the information I gained from my neuroscience classes would hold up when experiencing this in real life. I did not, however, predict how emotional and disturbing these autopsies could also be.

The first autopsy they performed was for an 8-month old Brazilian girl who died suddenly from exposure to an unfamiliar bacterial virus that she came in contact with during her family’s trip to New York. I was shocked at how much personal information they discussed and really needed in order to gauge exactly why this young girl died. It was difficult for me to think of the brain as having belonged to an actual human. When they began to cut, it disturbed me and shockedme at how fragile our bodies really are, and how vulnerable we are in life.

Thankfully, I was able to move past some of the emotions and become interested again in the biological and scientific information being presented to me. It was definitely a memorable last day. I am very thankful for the opportunity that I had this summer. It gave me many new skills, perspectives, and connections in my field of interest.

Emily D

I am an incoming senior at the University of Michigan studying biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience. I am currently interning at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City in their brain research unit. My research team is currently conducting a study in order to gain an understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of reward processing and cue-reactivity in individuals with chronic cocaine use disorders. I am thrilled and excited to begin my research in this field.

One thought on “Final Day

  • August 21, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Sounds like it was a powerful experience for you…thank you for sharing!


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