Come and get brainy in Bristol this spring

Issue date: 18 March 2009

University of the West of England A 400-strong human network of nerve cells, a giant brain, high-power microscopes and a neurobot are just a few of the interactive displays taking place at At-Bristol from Wednesday 18 to Sunday 22 March to celebrate International Brain Awareness Week.

Members of the public are invited to the event, hosted by Bristol Neuroscience and involving neuroscientists from the Universities of Bristol and the West of England to meet experts in the field and discover, discuss and delight in diverse aspects of the brain and nervous system.

People will have the chance to talk with practising neuroscientists who will be running eight interactive stands displaying a wealth of information about the human brain and its disorders. During this week there will be one special day of celebration, the 'Highlight Day' (Friday 20 March), which will see around 400 pupils, aged 5-to-11 years old, from four local schools come together to create a large human network of nerve cells in Millennium Square.

Pupils attending this event will have already taken part in preceding neuroscience workshops at their schools and learnt how nerve cells (neurons) connect to make neural networks. The 'Highlight Day' will reinforce what they have learnt through an exciting mass-participation event, joining them together to form neural networks across Millennium Square.

Dr Anne Cooke, neuroscience research facilitator and communications manager for Bristol Neuroscience, the body that represents all neuroscience in Bristol, said, “This event represents an analogy of the key process that underpins everything performed by the nervous system; seeing, feeling, moving, remembering; simply being who we are. It will be a very memorable way for observers and pupils to see why it is critical to protect our brain.”

The interactive stands will feature:

Neurobot - a model man showing how we detect and respond to touch and pain
Electroencephalography - recording brainwaves in real time
Pipecleaner neurons – make and take home your own model brain cell
Building brains – get to look inside real brains and find out how they are built
Just a Minute - how your eye movements tell us about your brain
3D-TV - using Wii to simulate motion parallax, one of the visual cues of depth perception
Mind reading - why sweating reveals information about our inner thoughts and feelings
Girls vs boys - real brain research into processing pictorial information

Dr Priscilla Heard of UWE said, "These stands will give people the chance to chat with practising neuroscientists, opening dialogue between researchers and the public about their research."

As well as the stands, there will also be activities tailored to adult visitors, including 'news and views' displays, short clips about the brain on the giant plasma screen in Millennium Square and, on Friday 20, 'Meet the Neuroscientist' when anyone can come and chat to experts about brain science. Throughout March, the work created in school workshops will also be on display in the café and in the windows of At-Bristol.

All the events marking Brain Awareness Week in Bristol 2009 are only able to take place thanks to Bristol Neuroscience working together with At-Bristol, in partnership with main sponsor The Physiological Society. Further support has come from: the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Research Councils UK, the Quartet Community Foundation, the Medical Research Council, University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.


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