Institute of Neuroscience

Brain Awareness Week 2012

Brain Awareness Week 2012

In 2012 the Institute of Neuroscience delivered a series of events based around the themes of sport and entertainment.

Tuesday 13th March: The launch of IoN Ambassadors

Our team of IoN Ambassadors delivered the Sport on the Brain workshop to Year 9 pupils from Framwellgate School, Durham. Ambassadors worked with pupils helping them to understand what goes on inside our heads when we compete and the neuroscience behind athleticism. The school children took part in several fun science based activities in an attempt to learn more about the relationship between perception, reaction and the brain. Pupils were enthusiastic throughout and were awarded IoN certificates in recognition of their achievement.

The workshop also helped pupils to prepare for their ambitious world record attempt on Monday 19th March - the most number of people patting their heads and rubbing their stomachs! Good luck Framwellgate!

The IoN Ambassadors programme was one of the outstanding projects granted the London 2012 Inspire mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme, which recognises exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the 2012 Games.

Thursday 15th March: Seeing Red: The role of colour in human competition.

We explored the fascinating relationship between colour and competition with a public lecture in the David Shaw Lecture Theatre. Dr Russell Hill talked of the various experiments to determine the 'red advantage'; suggesting strong effects on the opponent or receiver, with people wearing red perceived as significantly more aggressive and more dominant than those wearing other colours.

Russell's lecture revealed that across a wide array of sporting and competitive contests wearing red appears to be associated with an increased probability of winning. The audience discovered that this 'red advantage' emerges from our unconscious bias to associate redness with dominance and Russell discussed the obvious implications of this to ensure a level playing field in sport.

Sunday 18th March: Inside 3D and Showcase

We invited audiences to join us a for a sell-out performance at the Tyneside Cinema and their chance to discover an insider’s view of the science behind 3D technology!

Dr Jenny Read gave a free talk discussing the brief history of 3D from its surprisingly early photographic based origins to the advanced technology that we witness in movie theatres today. Jenny explored the concept of 3D; primarily how it works and the impact it can have on human observers. Audiences experienced a range of 3D imagery from the early era showreels to the blockbuster Avatar including an appearance on the way from the infamous 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'!

Following the talk there was a screening of the movie Hugo (3D). Jenny provided specific examples to look out for during the movie and an excited audience was encouraged to take part in their own visual experimentation such as closing one eye and head tilting altering their movie-viewing experience. Post-film Jenny was on hand to answer questions around this unique collective viewing experience.

In addition to the main presentation; we ran a series of interactive stations on display where members of the public took part in activities, chatted to our students and staff and learned more in a fun; creative and hands on environment.

Stations included EEG headsets that track your amazing brain to displays of the McGurk Effect and Ventriloquist Effect offering participants the chance to discover how the relationship between audio and visual stimuli can alter our perceptions.

We explored the consciousness by inviting members of the public to tell us, in their own words, their earliest cinematic memories. Be it happy, sad, exciting or scary; our viewing experiences can have an big impact on our consciousness. Audiences told us their stories featuring the likes of The Lion King, ET, Bambi and the scary combination of Snow White's Wicked Witch and Doctor Who's Daleks!