Posted Wednesday 20 February 2013
Ever fancied a close encounter with a hippocampus or how about having a chat with an amygdala? Or perhaps getting up close and personal with a thalamus and a striatum is more your thing.
With the help of some specially-designed costumes, two Kingston University staff have been offering passers-by the chance to do exactly that as they meet and talk to individual parts of the brain at a special event at the Barbican in central London. Dr Mark Preece and Dr Juliet Dukes, from Kingston's School of Life Sciences, have used funding from the Wellcome Trust to stage an event aimed at widening the public's knowledge of neuroscience.
The Barbican - billed as Europe's largest multi-arts and conference venue - and the Wellcome Trust have teamed up to provide a series of events to coincide with the British Neuroscience Association's 2013 Festival of Neuroscience. One of these events was a Neuroscience Street Fair taking place from April 7 to 9. Kingston University's contribution, entitled 'What Makes Me Me? A Treasure Hunt for the Neural Basis of Behaviour', involved Dr Preece, Dr Dukes and some of their students assuming the shape and roles of different brain parts. They could be found promenading through the Barbican's foyer each day to entertain and inform the public with stories about how each portion contributes to human behaviour.
"Finding out about the brain and what it does has always featured high on my list of interesting things to do, as has dressing up and talking to people - so the opportunity to combine the two was one not to be missed," Dr Preece said. "We have been inspired by a belief that learning can - and should be - fun. Whether it is understanding the basis of behaviour and how we interact with one another, the control of the body's everyday functions, or improving the quality of life through advances in understanding neurological and psychiatric disease, neuroscience touches us all."
The two Kingston experts and their walking, talking brains were part of a select group of neuroscientists, artists, performers and specialists at the forefront of brain research mingling with and talking to visitors from around the world during the event.