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Come and get brainy in Bristol this spring

Press release issued: 13 March 2009

A 350-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 Explore-At-Bristol next week [Wednesday 18 to Sunday 22 March], to celebrate International Brain Awareness Week.

A 350-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 Explore-At-Bristol next week [Wednesday 18 to Sunday 22 March], to celebrate International Brain Awareness Week

Members of the public are invited to the event, which is hosted by Bristol Neuroscience in partnership with main sponsor The Physiological Society, and involves over 60 neuroscientists from the University of Bristol and 15 from the University of the West of England (UWE). The event will give the public the chance to meet experts in the field and discover, discuss and delight in diverse aspects of the brain.

People will have the opportunity 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 the week there will be a special day of celebration, the ‘Highlight Day’ [Friday 20 March], which will see around 350 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:

1. Neurobot - a model man showing how we detect and respond to touch and pain

2. Electroencephalography - recording brainwaves in real time

3. Pipecleaner neurons – make and take home your own model brain cell

4. Building brains – get to look inside real brains and find out how they are built

5. Just a Minute - how your eye movements tell us about your brain

6. 3D-TV - using Wii to simulate motion parallax, one of the visual cues of depth perception

7. Mind reading - why sweating reveals information about our inner thoughts and feelings

8. 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."

Dr Elizabeth Bell of The Physiological Society, said: “Our Society is very pleased to sponsor these fun events showing how the science of physiology, which is about how the body works, is so relevant to all our lives. Come and enjoy!”

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 windows of Café-At-Bristol, Explore’s cafe.

All the events marking Brain Awareness Week in Bristol 2009 are only able to take place thanks to Bristol Neuroscience working together with Explore-At-Bristol, in partnership with 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’s Centre for Public Engagement.


Further information

Neuroscience is a key area of research at the University and the city of Bristol has one of the largest concentrations of researchers engaged in neuroscience in the UK, many of whom are internationally recognised. Bristol Neuroscience (BN) enables all neuroscientists working in Bristol – both within the University and partner hospitals across the city – to make full use of all available resources and expertise. BN runs numerous activities to encourage the dissemination of ideas, to create opportunities for interdisciplinary research, and to facilitate the pursuit of neuroscience to the highest possible standard. The BN events running at Explore-At-Bristol are thanks to a grant from the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS). For further information about BN, contact Dr Anne Cooke,
Please contact Anne Cooke for further information.
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