So I have been procrastinating and not posting. For a lot of the week I helped one of the post-docs (a person in the lab who has received a doctorate degree and works in a lab for a short amount of time before moving onto something like teaching at a university). Most the work for him was "desk work" which means that I sat on my computer on excell for a very long time! I had three documents open, one with the data, one with the equations, and the final document to copy and past things into. There is a TON of data. Basically electrodes were placed into the mices' brains and fear experiments were conducted. I'm going to get fairly scientific here: the electrodes measured the action potentials before and after certain events. Specifically during fear initiation, fear extinction, and I think fear reversal (I can explain this to anyone if you actually want to know). Graphs are being made from all this data and hopefully everything works!
Later in the week I had to help with perfusions. We call this "sacrificing" the mice. I won't get too graphic, but it was definitely kind of sad. I injected mice with ketamine (helps prevent pain and basically knocks the mouse out). I then handed the mouse to someone else who then perfused the mouse (if you really want details, google it). So that was definitely an experience, not necessary a pleasant one.
Tomorrow and the rest of the week I am supposed to be doing some sectioning of brains. Sectioning means that I take a device called a vibratome and slice the brains into thin slices so we can stain it and put them on a slide. We are then able to use a microscope to look for differences between the control animals and the ones who received different treatment. It sounds gross, but sectioning is not bad at all! I did it some last summer and it's not bad as long as you don't think about it too much. The slices sort of look like snot (haha- seriously). So I would MUCH rather section brains than sacrifice. But, you can't really have one without the other! This week I think I am helping with some sacrificing again, but it will be done in a different way than previously explains (I will once again spare you all the details).
SIDE NOTE: All sacrificing is done in a humane way to minimize any pain or discomfort so please don't go PETA on me. Plus without research on animals there would not be nearly as advances in science!
Hope I didn't gross any of you out with this (sorry family!).