MCAT Basics Podcast

MCAT Basics 1: The Nervous System

In this episode of MCAT Basics, Sam sheds light on the Nervous System, its parts and functions. Sam walks us through essential topics like the structure of the brain, How scientists study the brain by using the Imaging techniques, Role of Neurotransmitters, Language processing, and brain disorders. He also shares valuable insights for premed students and how they can study more effectively for MCAT.

In this episode, you will learn:

● Significant parts of Brain and its functions
● Three types of Imaging techniques
● Structures of Neuron
● Language processing with practical examples
● The best piece of advice for MCAT students

Time Stamps:

[1:45] Introduction to the nervous system

Sam explains the components of the nervous system, Three major layers of the brain; Forebrain, Midbrain, and Hindbrain, along with a comprehensive list of their functions.

[12:29] Sam dives into the imaging techniques and devices involved to image the brain

Learn more about Brain Imaging and its three main types that splits into Structural Imaging and Functional Imaging. Sam covers the most popular imaging techniques CT(Computed tomography) scan, MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging), EEG(Electroencephalography), PET(positron emission tomography) scans, to name a few.

[16:03] All you need to know about Neuron

“Two main neurotransmitters. First, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory transmitter. Another neurotransmitter related to GABA is Glicen. They are related in a fact that both are inhibitory. Both downregulate anxiety.” – He discusses Neurons and 3 of its components.

[30:02] How your brain process language

Sam speaks about the Areas of the brain involved in language processing. Moreover, he shares interview clips of people suffering from Language processing disorder.

[34:49] 5 most common neurological disorders

Sam shares the five most common neurological disorders from the MCAT’s perspective. And what are the main symptoms categories of these disorders.

[47:32] Limbic systems you should know for MCAT

Sam discusses the structures involved in the Limbic system and the easy way to remember them. He also gives a brief overview of these structures and how they relate to the overall function of the Limbic system

[51:33] Structures of the brain influenced due to drugs addiction

Sam talks about the structures of the brain related to addiction and different kinds of drugs and how they affect the brain.

[56:37] MCAT advice of the day

Sam shares an effective productivity tip for MCAT students.  He presents the idea of putting together a schedule and writing down your goals before you start studying. It can help you accomplish good results in MCAT exams.


“The last structure you should know within the hindbrain is the pons. It was named after an Italian anatomist and surgeon, Costanzo Varolio.”

“One interesting thing that Axons are covered in a myelin sheath, so this myelin sheath acts as an insulator. Like rubber does around a wire. It makes sure you do not lose any of that action potential as it travels down to neurons.”

“Something that I have found on different study materials for MCAT is the type of cells that produce myelin. There are two types of cells; oligodendrocytes cells and Schwann cells”.

“You see someone in Parkinson’s disease; they do very rapidly, shaky movements that is because of dysregulation in dopamine.”

Links Mentioned:

MCAT App Website:

Tactus Therapy-

Sam Smith

Sam completed his Bachelors of Science in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. Following his graduation, he worked at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center studying HIV. Meanwhile, with a microphone in his garage, Sam founded the MCAT Basics podcast. The podcast has grown to become the top rated MCAT podcast on iTunes. In addition to podcasting, Sam enjoys the outdoors, sports, and his friends and family.

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