My experimental question is; how does decreasing pain sensitivity with Aspirin affect fear-response in fruit flies? This project looks at how the common pain medication, Aspirin, influences risk-taking behaviors. Over-the-counter pain medications are widely accessible by almost everyone and taken every day by millions of people for a variety of reasons. Whether Aspirin is taken occasionally for headaches, or daily to prevent heart attacks, many are unaware of the physical side effects that come with taking this form of blood thinner. My main goal is to test if this medication also has some unintended mental effects that may correlate with the physical health of the users.
This experiment has been shaped in a variety of different directions and a large component of the project wasn’t even decided until all of my data was collected and analyzed. Aspirin was never the main focus of study, but more so the way painkillers can increase a person’s pain threshold to a certain extent. In the end, the whole social aspect of my project was scrapped and I put some of the focus into a potential connection between health and number of risks taken, using my developmental data taken from the flies and the main risk-taking assay. This shows that the independent experiments can be constantly influenced by what the data is actually showing.
Overall, my TRIP experience has been extremely interesting, and looking back on everything, I realized just how much I learned. My favorite part of TRIP was working with all of my lab mates and sharing stories of our school experiences and our own independent projects. Being able to share this experience with others brings in a sense of comfort because, even though we all have our own projects to worry about and figure out, a lot of us share the same issues and struggles. This is definitely a program for those who like the lab experience and going through procedures. A lot of it is repetitive and you don’t always see improvements right away, but it’s worth it in the end for the long term benefits and exposure to what it’s like learning in an environment that’s not super structured and gives the freedom for scientific creativity.