We're a little crazy, about science!

Experiments update!

Yes the data always look like a bunch of random squiggles, that’s why it takes forever to make sense of it.

Well a lot has happened this week, maybe not the most interesting of things for my readers, but this week has definitely kept me on my toes. Today we’re going to have to talk in circles because I can’t give away my “super secret” technique I’m researching, but I also have news about that technique. It’s all very hush, hush, top secret, would have to kill you if I told you type stuff for now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about how the experiments I’m doing went!

Another day, another story about my life in a PhD program. We’re actually about halfway through with my second year of doing this, man time flies! That said I promised early on when we kicked off year two of blogging that things were going to get crazy and they have! We’ve now accomplished two very formal experiments that will (hopefully) lead to funding my R21 grant. My Co-PI and I have been working hard on getting it written and submitted. The scary part is it’s due in just a few short weeks and we still need at least 1-3 (big range I know) subjects to test this on.

However, yesterday marked the second experiment to test my “super secret” technique that will revolutionize neuroscience as we know it!!!! Okay, PROBABLY not, but a guy can dream. Since there’s a delay between data collection and data processing (ugh!) I don’t know just how successful the experiment was even though the experiment itself went well. I don’t even know how that sentence makes sense to you, but the data will tell me if it was successful, whereas the experiment itself went as planned.

Here’s the twist though, yesterday was experiment number two! That means we had one experiment done and I just so happened to have enough time to get some of the initial data processed! The result? Spectacular! Part of what we’re doing is validating older research, stuff we “know” we should see, then expanding that using my technique. Basically our logic goes like this, x is a known and well studied response to a stimulus, and because we see x, y (the output response of my technique) should also be present. It sounds simple enough, but the way we get the “x response” isn’t used very often and when it is researchers generally suggest that getting it is very difficult.

Yep, see talking in circles, but the point is that we found response x and it was incredibly clear! That could be because we had a great participent (in the sense that the responses were spectacular, not just because they were easy to work with), or it could be because we did something different from the previously done research. We changed the timing of our stimulus slightly, so that could also be why we found our response so obviously. We changed the timing back to the historically used timing so depending on our new data we may have accidentally found a better way to get the “x response” we wanted to find.

That’s the thing about research, sometimes the established ways are just established, they aren’t the best ways. We may have stumbled upon a better way to do it purely by my Co-PI misremembering the value we use. If that’s the case then the next few experiments will go far smoother than the trial experiments we did that lead up to this point where the “x response” was hard to see. So in addition to my “new technique” we may also have developed a better way to do an old technique!

Basically we’re working through some stuff at a very fast pace and every step we get means I’m one step closer to my PhD. I suspect that the new data will be very useful in getting us to the agreement that what I’m doing is valid, useful, and will benefit the research my Co-PI is doing. This time next month I could be extremely confident in my findings and we may even have enough data to publish the results. That would in turn allow me to talk about it a little more openly than I am now.

But enough about us, what about you?

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