For Rebekka Matheson, one of the College of Family, Home, and Social Science’s newest faculty members, teaching is about helping students expand their world. As an assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience in the psychology department, Matheson is able to witness students’ worlds expanding to embrace more truth and knowledge every time she teaches. “There’s a very specific facial micro-expression when a student makes a connection, gets excited about new material, sees old material in a new way, or is able to see the beauty in something,” shares Matheson. “It’s like their eyes widen and fill with light for a moment. I love that moment.”
A graduate of BYU herself, Professor Matheson notes that “there was a very powerful feeling of being among some really remarkable people every day [during my undergraduate education at BYU]. Now, as I interact with my students, I get that same feeling. BYU Neuroscience students really are the best and brightest the world has to offer, and even better than that, they are focused on applying their education in Christ-like ways.” From her impactful BYU education, Professor Matheson learned that “truth is never irrelevant,” regardless of the field it comes from. When you find how truth and knowledge relate to your field, you “will have an enriched understanding and deeper appreciation for the truth [you] already had.” As Professor Matheson says, “ I rarely ‘know‘ anything.… I just have a scaffolding to keep building on. I chose neuroscience and medicine as my scaffolding.”
Professor Matheson currently teaches neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, and sensation and perception. To those both in the neuroscience department and in different majors, Matheson offers this advice: “Brains learn what they find beautiful. If you’re struggling with material, don’t automatically go deeper in the trenches of its minutiae. Ask for help finding its beauty. Your professors will love helping with that, and your brain will thank you.”
Within the field of neuroscience, Matheson is interested in the neuroanatomy of reward and its implications in psychiatric illness and addiction. More specifically, she is interested in anatomy-focused, deep brain stimulation treatment of psychiatric and behavioral illness.
Welcome back to BYU, Professor Matheson!