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In the past two years alone, brain research has taken some big steps forward. Neuroscientists have determined new methods to deliver drugs through the blood-brain barrier to treat brain tumors and neurological diseases, found new ways to combat the progression of Alzheimer’s, and revealed the timing of expression of “autism susceptibility genes.” These advances will improve the well-being of millions of people. Paul Lipton, director of the undergraduate program in neuroscience, wanted to bring greater awareness of the benefits of this research to BU and to schoolchildren in the Boston area, and did so by participating in Brain Awareness Week.
Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign led by the Dana Foundation that aims to increase public support and awareness of brain research. To celebrate, the CAS Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience and the Mind and Brain Society (MBS) organized BU’s first Bringing Recognition and Interest to Neuroscience Day, or BRAIN Day.
On March 29, 40 undergraduate volunteers gathered at the SAC Gym to prepare a series of hands-on activities to demonstrate different aspects of neuroscience. These activities included crafts that explain the parts of a neuron and the techniques used to study cells, neuropsychology tests used to evaluate cognitive ability and memory, live recordings and visualizations of action potentials, dissections of sheep brains, visualization of real brain cells, and tasks that illustrated accommodation in sensory and motor function. Labs from BU and MIT also led activities to share their research questions and demonstrate some of their studies.
“I was impressed with our students before the event, but [after] seeing the program they put together, their efforts and energy, and enthusiasm for not only the science, but bringing the science to their local community, I am thoroughly inspired,” said Lipton.
Approximately 100 students in grades 1-12 from communities all around Boston attended BRAIN Day, along with 30 parents and teachers. Next year, MBS and the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience plan to expand the event to include more activities and reach a larger group of students.