Rebecca Kozak - 2020 Winning Essay

Many people have heard that we are only able to use ten percent of our brains, and if we could figure out a way to use it all, we could literally be superhuman. Well, I can tell you that this is false. Different parts of your brain are involved in different functions, and even simple movements like reaching towards your morning coffee cup can use numerous areas throughout your brain.

I am currently a PhD student in Neuroscience at Western University and I study how the brain controls movement, specifically really fast movement. For example, when a hockey goalie makes a save, this motion is too fast to be completely voluntary and likely uses a pathway through the brain that scientists don’t know much about. To explore this pathway, I hook people up to exoskeletons and ask them to reach towards images on an interactive screen.

I have discovered many things about these movements, and presented my research at numerous national and international neuroscience conferences. We are currently using what I have found to examine Parkinsons patients who have difficulty with movement, which will hopefully lead to an increased quality of life for these patients.

My ultimate goal is to become a professor and continue in research, because this research advances our understanding of the brain, and can be used to help people. There is still so much to learn about the brain, and I hope I can add just a piece to this story.