During the first week, I started my summer lab study with my professor. We met on Monday, June 24th in Harvard Medical School to talk about what we are going to do for the four-week session. He was so nice that he answered every question from me such as what my research topic could be. After the meeting, I received the paper that I was going to study from my teacher.
The paper is about decision-making in the adolescent brain. I spent the next few hours on studying this paper as well as doing my homework from my university and I really enjoy the time! The difficulty of reading this paper is a little hard for me since there were several professional words that I wasn’t familiar with. Therefore, when I read the paper, I also made many notes which enabled me to better organize the information as well as extract questions.
To illustrate, I found that ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum played significant roles in controlling people’s impulsivity & inhibitory, learning & prediction errors as well as emotion on decisions. Then several questions came to my mind. According to the paper, the previous study claimed that for people between 11- 31, in average, with the increase of their age, the impulsive choice will decrease due to the activity of the left vmPFC and ventral striatum. I’d like to figure out how about those who are over 30 years old? In addition, recent research indicated that adolescents tend to express more risk behaviors than people from other age groups. Thus, suppose an adolescence avoided risk behavior, is that mean this person will behave much more “mature” than the peers? There are inconsistent outcomes in adolescence behavior studies, so I also believe much further study should be developed. Finally, Why the uncommon activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum happened during adolescence? Does dopamine influence the brain activity or there’s other hormones should be responsible? Except for the topic, I notice that there’s an interesting phenomenon from the paper that why young adults (between 17-21) show less peer effect than both adolescents and adults? What’s the factor that causes this specific age group is impacted less by peer effect? I’m interested in looking into this question. Due to the schedule limitation, I prefer to conduct survey questions for three age groups: adolescents, young adults and use simple random sample/convenience sample. I’m going to review previous research to complete my study plan in two days as well. For the next week, I will discuss with the teacher about this and start collecting samples. I’m very looking forward to the future studies!
Another tough week will be over. During this week, I also learned a lot that not only from my study, but also from the things I experienced these days.
For the second week, I started collecting the sample for discovering the relationship between peer influence and self-decision making among young adults. I use questionnaires for collecting data and the questionnaire includes some background information such as age, gender, culture as well as the questions for identifying participants’ preference to self-decision and peers. Although only 40 samples should be included in the study, I experienced a really, really hard time on sample collecting.
The temperature was too high in Boston from Monday and Wednesday. Every person in the street walked in a hurried pace and I couldn’t bear to stop them to do the questionnaire. Wednesday was the Independence Day, so no students would go to school. Therefore, although I got the printing paper of the questionnaires from my professor on Monday, I chose to write the introduction part of the study. I was very busy on Thursday and Friday because I went to Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Berklee College of Music, Northeastern University, Boston Public Library and Boston University for collecting the data, but the efficiency on collecting the samples was still slow. Harvard and MIT are both good places to study because normally, people expected that the students there must have great abilities in self-decision making. However, unfortunately, there were only a few students there when I arrived. There were only some visitors in the campus, so I got very few samples in these two universities. In the other universities, there were more students. Nevertheless, there were some students who I couldn’t interrupt: those who walked and chatted with their friends and the student sit in the café but wore the headset. Also, I always feel really nervous when I talk to people I’m not familiar with. I was pleased with the progress that I became much braver during these days although this was still a hard thing to me. Learning from the textbook is essential, but stepping forward from life is also a significant part, isn’t it?
Finally, another good idea came to my mind was that since there are many young adults (most are college students) in my apartment, I decided to ask these people to do the questionnaires. It was exciting that these people were so nice, and it didn’t take much time on finishing the rest questionnaires.
For the next few days, I’m going to analyse the data and find out whether there’s any point that is interesting to study. Hope everything will go well!
First, sorry for writing the report late this week. I just finished my draft of my paper on Friday. The third week of this summer lab study was also very busy and meaningful for me. During the first three days, I figured out that my research hypothesis should be that in young adults, there would be observed differences in the relationship between self-decision making and peer influence, depending on their field of study or gender. I recorded the data of the 93 samples by calculating the mean scores of their answers in the questionnaires into the Excel. Later, except the introduction of the paper, I wrote the method part of this study to record the participants, apparatus and materials, and the procedure of my sample collecting.
I met with the professor and TA R on Wednesday for asking the statistic method and how to compare the sample groups. Both of them were so kind that provide great suggestions for me, which enabled me to have clear and straightforward thoughts on the next steps. Therefore, on Thursday and Friday, I finished analysing the data (participants’ ages, college major, the scores of self-decision questionnaire and peer-influence questionnaire) by SPSS. The participants were divided into two group: college major group that contains people from the college of business, college of engineering, and college of liberal art& science and the gender group (males and females). Depend on the graph and the correlation coefficient of each group, I found that my hypothesis was partly corresponding. To illustrate, there were moderate differences between the three major groups: compared to college of liberal art & science, young adults from college of engineering and college of business performed positive relationship on the scores between peer influences and self-decision makings, which meant that people who had more same opinions and belief with the peers, tended to make less strict self-decisions. In addition, there was also a moderate discrepancy in the gender group. According to the result, compared to females, males were less likely to be affected by peer influences when making self-decision. Therefore, depend on what I found after the analysis, I wrote down the result part and made a discussion in my paper, as well. I also pointed out the function, limitation and how the future study could be.
I submitted my paper draft on Friday night, and I have just talked with my TA R. I got valuable advice from Rachel, and now I’m going to revise some part of my paper today and tomorrow. Also, hope I can also enjoy my life and study here in the next, the final week.
During the final week, we continued to talk about an overview of these weeks, as well as the prospect of my project. Professor L suggested that I could amplify the samples in order to enhance the external validity of my paper. His also shared with me his personal experience that studied in various institutions.
I was going to keep on working my project in further step in the next few months. I hope during the rest time, I could keep on progressing even without Professor L’s immediate help.
To sum, thanks to this valuable experience! Mr.Z provided me great chance to practice myself in Harvard medical school and Professor L guided me for doing the summer study so nicely. The experience in Boston was so unforgettable. Thanks a lot!
1.The chair I saw in one of the labs in Harvard Medical School
2.I saw the post which did by the researchers to illustrate their new findings
3.The campus of Harvard Medical School
4.I also spent a day on visiting the Harvard Universtiy.
5.The apartment I lived in Boston
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