The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City presented “Neuroscience Night: Our Sensational Brain” last Thursday night in celebration of Brain Awareness Week. Using interactive activities, the event showcased the astounding capabilities of the human brain and the how it works in concert with our senses to interpret the world around us.
Remember “the dress” phenomenon? A viral sensation, people took to social media to passionately argue over whether a photographed dress was blue and black or gold and white. How can this be? We rely on our senses to help us navigate the world, but what if I told you our individual perceptions are not always what they seem?
Well, don’t take my word for it, that’s what I learned from NYU neuroscientist David Schneider at Tuesday night’s show, “Everything is Hallucinated.” Held at “intelligent nightlife” venue, Caveat, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Schneider was directed by theater director Sarah Hughes in a performance-meets-academia talk–with props and illusions. This is one of many events with a neuroscience slant planned this week at Caveat for Brain Awareness Week (March 12-18).
One of the newest buildings in Harlem’s historic neighborhood is now home to the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, part of Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. The idea behind the Science Center’s construction was to have a designated place to support human connection, intellectual excellence, and pioneering research that goes beyond traditional academic boundaries. So, it only makes sense that the state-of-the-art glass and steel research center is where the BioBase opened its doors to the public for Brain Awareness Week on Monday.
The BioBase was bustling with young students and adults who explored the various stations to test out science experiments and research-grade lab equipment for themselves. Chief scientist Latasha Wright, Ph.D., who spearheaded the creation of the BioBase and the internship program at its sister facility, the BioBus, gave me a tour of the community lab and explained the different experiments that were designed to engage everyone from grades K-12 and up.
This is the third and final interview in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner Q&As, in which partners share their experiences and tips for planning successful events. Dra. Ma. Rebeca Toledo Cárdenas is a professor and researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones Cerebrales at the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico.
Last year, the Centro de Investigaciones Cerebrales of the Universidad Veracruzana celebrated its tenth anniversary as a Brain Awareness Week partner. Can you tell us how you celebrated and what kind of events were held?
The organization of this program began with the consensus and participation of all the researchers at the Centro de Investigaciones Cerebrales of Universidad Veracruzana (CICE-UV), as well as an important group of enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students. This teamwork has allowed us to remain in the presence of the public during these ten years.
The organization of “Brain Awareness Week, Xalapa, 2017″ began in January of the same year, with the organization of the working groups, invitations to participating speakers, and the logistics to use the facilities for the event. Xalapa was one of the 20 Mexican cities to organize Brain Awareness Week and remains the only city in the state of Veracruz to organize a program with the support of the Universidad Veracruzana.
Our program was attended by special guests from the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP). We also had an important group of students, administrative support staff, and volunteers from the Universidad Veracruzana. Under the title “10 Years Celebrating the Brain,” we spoke about the magnificence of our brains, explaining the set of scientific disciplines that study the structure and function of the organ.
This is the second in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their experiences and tips for planning successful events. Cecilia M. Fox, Ph.D., is a professor of biological sciences and the director of the Neuroscience Program at Moravian College. She is also president of the Lehigh Valley Society for Neuroscience Chapter.
For several years, you’ve organized a film series during Brain Awareness Week. What topics have you explored and why do you think this type of event works well to engage the public?
Since I am a neuroscientist at a liberal arts institution, we deliberately plan our annual BAW Film and Seminar Series involving topics that bridge the humanities and sciences. We have offered programs focusing on themes such as The Art of Neuroscience, The Musical Brain, Brain Sex, and The Neuroscience Underlying Poverty and Inequality. By offering such broad topics, we can to make connections across disciplines and attract a more diverse audience. We publicize events through our Lehigh Valley SfN Chapter website and through local connections in colleges, public schools, public libraries and assisted living communities. We also ensure that our Brain Awareness Outreach Programs continue with this interdisciplinary thread. In addition to brain dissections, reflex testing, and EEG recordings, we offer “artsy” neuroscience related stations entitled “Dendritic Art,” “Lego Concussion Man,” and “Neuron Lanyards!”