Brain Awareness Week
Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a global initiative created by the DANA foundation to increase public awareness about brain research. Each year the Institute of Neuroscience tries to think of fun ways to engage people in the exciting world of brain science.
This year we scheduled 3 public events for BAW. Firstly PhD students Lizzie Stephens and Nishani Jeyapalan from our mitochondrial research group took part in the British Science Association's 'SciBar' event. This initiative sees talks taking place in a less formal setting such as pubs and bars, away from the traditional University backdrop. Lizzie and Nishani presented: The Perfect Storm- Mitochondria in Parkinson's Disease. Mitochondria are small structures found in all the cells in your body. They make energy so are often called the batteries of the cell. Lizzie and Nishani used different types of weather to represent risk factors that can affect mitochondria and potentially lead to Parkinson's Disease.
Our second event was: The Science of 3D, which took place at The Core, Science Central. Professor Jenny Read has a special interest in how people see images in 3D. Two researchers from her team were on hand to talk about their projects. Humans judge how far away an object is (depth) and can see 3D images because we have two eyes, and one is on the left and one on the right side of our face. These provide two slightly different images and our brains put them together. This is called stereo vision or stereopsis. The first talk from Vivek Nityanda explained their work with Preying Mantids. This interesting invertebrate is the only one (we know of) that, like humans, has stereopsis. In the second talk we heard about the Asteroid project from Kathleen Vancleef. Children with eye problems such as strabismus and amplyopia have problems with their stereo vision. Current vision tests for these children are difficult to use and do not provide accurate information. Asteroid is a new vision test using 3D displays that children find easier to use and provides doctors with better data.
For our third event this year, Jeremy Parr gave a talk as part of the popular cafe scientifique series. People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have anxiety in very specific situations or caused by certain things. Jeremy talked about a new way to treat this anxiety that he has developed for children with ASD. Termed the Blue room it uses a virtual reality room that allows children to interact with their phobia in a totally safe and controlled way. It has been found that by repeatedly exposing them to the thing that causes them anxiety over time it becomes less frightening.
Demonstrating the real-world impact of our research and explaining why it is important is an essential task for all today's scientists. As a civic University we want to tell people about the cutting-edge research happening here on their doorstep.
It is essential that our researchers can explain their work to any audience whether young or old, scientists or non-scientists. We want to enthuse people of all ages about brain science and perhaps inspire the next generation of Neuroscientists.
We encourage all our early career researchers and postgraduate students to become IoN Ambassadors and get involved with our outreach and engagement programme. Whether this is going into schools, visiting after school clubs such as scouts and brownies. Giving talks to adult learning groups, art workshops, or setting up drop in stands at the Centre for Life or the Great North Museum. We are always looking for new ways to interact and new groups to work with.
If you would like to work with us please contact Ann Fitchett, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0191 208 8320.
Art and neuroscience share a fascination with the human mind. We promote collaborations between artists and neuroscientists to yield new insights into how the mind and brain work.
Recent collaborations have included the 'Reassembling the Self' exhibition at The Hatton and Vane galleries in Newcastle. Curated by artist, Susan Aldworth, the exhibition was the culmination of a residency within the Institute of Neuroscience and explored the relationship between schizophrenia and human identity. This exhibition has since gone on to show at the GV gallery in London and the Waterside Arts Centre in Manchester.
Professor Anya Hurlbert, whose research interests include colour vision, has been involved in a number of exhibitions include Touching Colour which took place at the Hatton Gallery and recently Making Colour at the National Gallery. As part of the exhibition visitors could take part in an experiment to find out how the brain makes colours from surface and lights. This exhibition was also featured on BBC radio 2’s: ‘Colour on the Radio’ a special week of programming focusing on visual arts.
The Noise was a theatrical collaboration between the Northern Stage and Unlimited Theatre. A murder mystery set on an isolated island where all the residents hear a constant noise which affects their behaviour. Prof Tim Griffiths from our Auditory research group gave the theatre company insights on the effects noise can have on people’s mood and behaviour.
Just Checking was a theatrical piece created by Vivid Theatre Company; aiming to explore the condition Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It told the story of a young man with OCD and his difficulty maintaining relationships with those close to him as he struggled to control his instrusive thoughts.
Cap-a-Pie are a theatre company based in the heart of Newcastle using performance to strengthen collaborations between universities and community groups. Working with Dr Vivek Nityananda and using his research on insects they developed free drama workshops for humans of all ages taking place in Summer 2015.
Alzheimer's Research UK
Each year in association with Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK) we put on an information day to tell people about the latest research on dementia being conducted at Newcastle.
The 2016 public information day took place on Wednesday 14th September in the Kings Road Centre, Newcastle University. If you were not able to make it you can review the presentations below.
Funding world-class Dementia research (PDF:2MB)
Can telling the absolute truth be unhelpful for people with dementia? Dr Roberta Caiazza (PDF:745KB)
What happens in a memory clinic? Dr Charlotte Allan, Simon Jenkins, Kate Yiasemides & the Newcastle MAMS team (PDF:378KB)
A memorable cup of tea Dr Ed Okello (PDF:2MB)
The COGFAST study Sarah Barnfield (PDF:2MB)
In 2015 over 100 people came to 'The Core' in Newcastle city centre to listen to talks from researchers. We know that many people may not have been able to make the day so we would like to share the presentations with you here.
Do you want to know more about Dementia? (PDF: 1.2MB) Presentation by Professor Raj Kalaria, Newcastle University
Funding world-class Dementia research (PDF: 1.6MB) Presentation by Dr Carla Cox, Alzheimer's Research UK
Delirium: an up-date (PDF: 1MB) Presentation by Dr Elizabeta Mukaetova-Ladinska, Newcastle University
Using brain imaging to understand Dementia (PDF: 1.11MB) Presentation by Professor Andrew Blamire, Newcastle University
Diet, vitamin D and cognition (PDF: 4.04MB) Presentation by Dr Tom Hill, Newcastle University