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DPhil Student, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Ioana Grigoras smilingI am currently in my first year of my PhD in Clinical Neuroscience, after finishing a medical degree in my home country, Romania. The focus of my PhD is investigating what brain mechanisms are involved behind the process of learning a new motor task.  Maybe that does not sound very thrilling, but let me explain why I am so passionate about it. 

Everyone has a hobby, right? Whether yours is swimming, skiing, dancing or playing a musical instrument, all of them are based on the fact that you learned how to do it at some point in the past and you are now a lot better than you were when you started. What I am interested in is looking at what happens in your brain every time you practise it one more time, what brain areas activate with learning, what neurotransmitters have higher or lower levels and whether it is possible to influence these processes so you can learn faster. We can then use this knowledge to help people like stroke survivors, who have lost their ability to use their arm or leg, to learn how to use it again. 

I think this is what is so fulfilling about a career as a scientist. We do it to gain knowledge, to feed our curious nature and to find answers to the questions that have been troubling us, but in the process, we find the most satisfaction of all: we get to help actual people with our research and we make a difference to their lives.

I look forward to meeting you at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, where we will talk about how the brain influences the way you breathe. I promise it is going to be really cool!