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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Feeling sleepy after a sleepless night?

In many cases, people spend sleepless night. Especially, if we consider the case of students during exam time. Many of the students have a habit of studying throughout the night prior to exams and then they feel sleepy while writing them. Have you not experienced during your student life? And in some cases you may also get a feedback from them that even though he studied he was not able to recollect it during the exams. And I am sure it must have been the case with you as well at some stage in your life. 

Have you wondered why is it so? 

A recent study published in Nature has answers to these questions?

A recent study on rats have suggested that sleep deprived neurons may shut down even when awake. As a result, sleep-deprived selves are so cognitively challenged: we are, if not precisely half-asleep, partially asleep.

“After a long period in an awake state, cortical neurons can go briefly ‘offline,’” wrote researchers led by University of Wisconsin neuroscientists Vladyslav Vyazovskiy and Giulio Tononi in a study published April 27 in Nature. “Although both EEG and behavior indicate wakefulness, local populations of neurons in the cortex may be falling asleep, with negative consequences for performance.” To study rats’ neurology, Tononi’s team wired their brains to an EEG machine, kept them awake longer than usual, and looked for patterns in readouts of their brains’ electrical activity.

They found that scattered neurons throughout the rats’ brains gradually alternated between periods of activity and inactivity — a pattern associated with deep sleep, not wakefulness. But unlike their synchronization during sleep, these oscillations were brief and disjointed.When the researchers tested the rats in a sugar-pellet-reaching task, performance declined in proportion to their neurons’ “offline” status, suggestive of how sleep-deprived people have trouble functioning.

Sleepwalkers, for example, seem to inhabit “a twilight state between sleep and wakefulness,” wrote Colwell. Many animals also alternate between shutting down their brains’ left and right hemispheres, allowing for rest while maintaining vigilance.“These observations also suggest that single neurons can move into a rest state,” wrote Colwell. 

“The ability to control behavior actively with some neural circuits while others may be idling could be evolutionarily advantageous.” However, Colwell cautioned against assuming that the patterns seen by Tononi in rats are responsible for short-of-sleep human grouchiness, distraction and poor judgment. For now that’s “arguably an intellectual stretch,” he wrote — but the the data supports further investigations. “And although it is only anecdotal evidence,” Colwell concluded, “I could swear that some of my students can sleep with their eyes wide open.”

 I am sure that after reading this article, many students would avoid spending sleepless nights during exams.

Source:  University of California, Los Angeles

Tips for CSIR NET JRF Life sciences students

Syllabus
  •  If you take a quick look at the syllabus for CSIR NET JRF life sciences, you would notice that not only topics related to Biotechnology but whole of the life sciences has been included. Well that is unfair on the syllabus part but yes when it is common to all life sciences candidates it does makes sense.
  • Try to cover almost of the entire syllabus, but its obviously difficult, in that case you may restrict yourself to certain topics which appear interesting to you. But remember you must have knowledge of the topic to its minute levels. This will help you in clearing your interview, I remember when I had interview in IISC Bangalore, I was asked to choose my strongest topic & questions were asked in a brain storming forty five minute session.
  • Some of the topics related to botany or zoology may appear boring to you, in that case try to first make your Biotech topics stronger, then only move to these topics.  
Preparation
  • Ideally the preparation should start three months before exam, but that means you must stick to a particular schedule. If you are an appearing candidate I would suggest starting in the third semester itself (provided if you wanna clear JRF).
  • Solve sample papers as much as you can, well that is a typical advice to any competition aspirant, I would suggest to get in to the details ( theory part) as soon as you come through the questions.
  • If you are a appearing candidate, then try to co-relate the questions from the theory part, Remember, it doesn’t matter how much your university awards you, rather a JRF would Really MATTER, so devote as much time as possible to get in to the subjects & concepts. They emphasize concepts rather than mugging up & vomiting data.
Exam
  • Again comes the question which one to stress for more, Paper 1 or 2? Well I would suggest you to concentrate more on paper 2 but remember passing in Paper 1 is very important, so make sure you strike a fair balance.
  • During exam- I would suggest not to panic rather stick to your basics while answering, coz most questions are from basics but we tend to complicate it.
  • Try not to solve all questions rather try to gain confidence by answering questions which you know first in case of paper 1. In paper 2 just cram through the paper what it contains and how much you know, don’t panic if you don’t Know, try to stick to the word limit while answering, be to the point and quote examples
How to Avoid a Disaster?
Though we cannot say anything about the cut off marks, experience tells that one has to score well in Paper I to get JRF. At the same time leave your thoughts about the performance in the Paper I back and do well in the afternoon session with a clear and sound mind. Some may have a tendency to throw it up feeling dejected about your performanceduring the day. 

Let us wait the results to come before making disastrous assumptions to spoil your day. Also be cool in your approach to the exam and never give up during the examination by doing things like answering all the multiple choice questions randomly based on luck feeling dejected of your performance. There is plenty of time to be prepared and perform well. And from experience, many have come out successfully even after believing that they did perform very poorly.


In examination with objective type multiple choice questions (MCQs), there is a tendency called the ‘Red Wire Syndrome’ which means to answer all questions whether one knows the correct answer or not. If we can classify the questions into three categories, viz. 1) Sure, 2) Not So Sure and 3) Never, indicating whether one knows the correct answer, possible but some doubt still prevails and almost impossible, respectively. The ‘red wire syndrome’ means that one will have tendency to answer all the questions, which is disastrous, just like a child who touches a ‘red hot wire’ seeing its beauty. The key to success lies in answering all the ‘Sure’ types, and leaving out the ‘Never’ types. It is imperative to learn the art of intelligent guessing to answer the type 2. 

This evidently comes from one’s experience and basic knowledge of the subject. So never ever find it insulting to go back to your basics (atleast refer to some of the basic books in the list below). So never forget practice well using previous question papers of NET JRF to make you come out with flying colours.

After Exam
Well your work is not yet over, try to recollect  the questions and write it down, if that is not possible try to demarcate the topics which were stressed specifically, this would of immense help in case if you do not clear.

How to utilize INTERNET for CSIR UGC NET EXAM?
Well the answer lies in exploiting this resource as much as possible to gain subject material. I would suggest joining CSIR NET JRF discussion groups to interact with other aspirants and ask questions.

This article was submitted By a successful candidate who did his MSC Biotechnology from IIT  and further got JRF and got calls from IISC Bangalore, CDRI Lucknow and many more. Due to our Privacy policy we are unable to reveal the identity of the scholar.

CSIR NET Model papers out now

Dear Friends,
CSIR has just now announced the Sample Papers of CSIR New Pattern, The sample papers can be downloaded from CSIR website from following links:
This year it needs a lot of preparation from your side.
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