Can anyone suggest an interesting area of physiology to research for a 17 year old?

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Mahmoud Shah
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skotch
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(Original post by Apologetic Cube)
The Royal Society of Physiology have invited high-school students to conduct their own research project in any field of physiology as part of a scheme called, "The Science of Life: How your body works", and I've decided to take part.

As of just now, I have two possible ideas; the first being an investigation into how a calorific surplus impacts lean muscle gain and the second being an investigation into how mnemonic techniques aid human memory.

However, if, for whatever reason, I cannot proceed with these ideas, I was wondering if any of you had any interesting suggestions for areas of physiology I could investigate?

Please bear in mind that, although they can be fairly advanced topics, I am conducting the research in my own time at home and, therefore, I don't have the type of equipment or facilities which others, perhaps, may be used to.

I'm really just looking to get the juices flowing, to be honest. So any possible ideas would be great.
Ah, that sounds like a great project to get involved in. Would certainly look good on a future medicine application (if that's what you're going for; I assume you are seeing as you posted in this forum).

Whilst the memory one is interesting and could be a fun one to try out, it's very much psychology, rather than physiology, Unless of course you choose to focus on the physiological processes underpinning memory consolidation, i.e. long-term potentiation, hippocampus/amygdala activity. Could get quite complicated, but I'm not sure about the specifics of your project; maybe they like that.

Another issue with the memory one is - what are you actually going to measure? You need to be specific about your dependent variable. Obviously you don't want to use exam results as you have no control to compare these to.

I think anything involving sport and/or nutrition would be good, especially as this can be fitted well around your studies.

With the first idea about lean muscle gain, you will need a decent method for determining muscle gain. But I like this idea and it is very much physiological in nature.

Other ideas might be something to do with sleep (although obviously you don't want this affecting your studies!), supplements, energy levels etc.I don't know, I'm just thinking off the top of my head!
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Pittawithcheese
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I was going to suggest something sleep-oriented as well, because it will be easier to conduct at home.

Something simple would be a great place to start and see where it leads you: for example you could test whether eating protein or carbs or drinking caffeine or sugary drinks within a certain time frame affects how easily you fall asleep. Or you could test how certain foods affect your ability to conduct a series of complex arithmetic problems (same difficulty and same time each day).

The challenge will always be determining how/what you will measure.

Good luck, sounds really interesting :-)


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Beska
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The first idea about muscle gain is interesting and very physiological, but might have the tendency to get complicated in terms of all the interconnecting metabolic pathways and what you're going to measure, etc. The idea about memory isn't physiology. Because of your lack of a lab (as you say!) you need to be careful you stay in the realms of physiology and don't steer too far into other disciplines with less physiological research outcomes.
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