Brain Day 2011 focuses on keeping our grey matter in optimum condition

Have you ever wondered how our brain cells work? Or where your memories are stored? Then Brain Day 2011 is for you.

Visitors to the huge public event on Saturday March 19th will be able to go on a giant tour of the brain, as the new Mind Map winds its way around The University of Auckland’s Business School. Hosted by the Centre for Brain Research in association with the Neurological Foundation, Brain Day aims to raise awareness of brain research and brain disease. The open day is part of international Brain Awareness Week, which is organised by the Dana Alliance for Brain Research.

The Mind Map encompasses anatomy demonstrations, fun science experiments, informative lectures and community group stands. By touring around all the aspects of Brain Day, it’s hoped that visitors will expand their minds, and help grow some new brain cells!

“Our research shows that our brains can grow new brain cells, no matter what your age or your condition,” says Professor Richard Faull, the Director of the Centre for Brain Research. “All the evidence for staying mentally fit shows that we need to keep active- both mentally and physically. So that means doing new, stimulating activities, and also exercising. I think Brain Day offers just that!”

The lecture series during Brain Day features some of the top scientists and clinicians from the Centre for Brain Research (CBR). Deputy Director Professor Alan Barber will be speaking on stroke, looking at what causes it and what can be done about it. Professor Suzanne Purdy will talk about her team’s research on speech therapy, looking at both music and conversation. The final exciting talk of the day will come from neurosurgeon Dr Edward Mee, recounting the history of surgery on the brain.

Children won’t be left out either, with fun talks and workshops aimed at the under 16s. Children can attend on their own or with their parents. Anatomist Dr Fabiana Kubke will show children how to make a brain out of water pipes, while improvisation expert Wade Jackson will put you on the spot with his mind expanding programme. Neuroscientist Dr Johanna Montgomery will explain what brain scientists do, and will talk about her work listening to brain cells talk! She says neuroscience is a great option for students wanting to make a difference.

“It’s really important to us to be able to tell the public what brain scientists do,” she says. “We love what we do – the brain is such an amazing organ. To be able to convey this to adults and children alike and enable them to see how cool it is to be a neuroscientist is great for the present and the future of neuroscience and health research in NZ.”

Along the Mind Map visitors will find science experiments demonstrating what each area of the brain does. Each stage is designed to cater for both young and old, with informative explanations running alongside kid-friendly question and answer books.

Dr Cathy Stinear is the organiser of the science lab. “We’ve got a range of interesting activities to demonstrate some fascinating things about the brain,” she says. “If you’ve ever wondered how you can be tricked by illusions, or what a real human brain looks like, you’ll discover the answers to these and many more questions at Brain Day.  We’re hoping it’s a great day out for everyone.”

Community groups from all over Auckland are also taking part in the day, with a Community Expo providing information on many different neurological conditions. It’s a chance to meet other people with similar interests and find out vital information on the services available to people with brain disease.

CBR Communications and Liaison Manager Laura Fogg is organising the open day. “Brain Day is such a great opportunity for us to connect with the people who matter most- the people for whom our neuroscientists are doing their research. Brain disease can be difficult to cope with alone, but by working together; our scientists, clinicians and community groups hope we can really make a difference.”

Brain Day is a free event, and will be held at The University of Auckland Business School on the City Campus. The venue is easily accessible with parking ($5 all day) available under the building, and lifts to every floor. Come along to learn something new and have a great day out.

This year the CBR team will be conducting research to find out why people come to Brain Day, and what they learn. Please take part to help improve Brain Day for future years!

Brain Day 2011
Saturday 19th March 9am to 4pm
Auckland Business School
Owen G Glenn Building
12 Grafton Road, Auckland
Parking: $5 for underground parking at the Business School, disabled parking beside lifts and easily accessible on all floors.
For more information see:
www.cbr.auckland.ac.nz

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