As part of International Brain Awareness Week (14-20th March 2011), my supervisor Dr Ashok Jansari will be hosting a Brain Awareness Day at the School of Psychology at our UEL Stratford campus. My part in all this is quite exciting – I get to be his personal assistant in the proceedings. Which means I am figuratively representing the event online!
Well, what’s involved? The event will start with a public lecture entitled ‘The Life of Brian (the Brain)’, giving a tour of the history of our understanding of the brain. This will begin with the first written documentation of the word ‘brain’ in a 3000 year old Egyptian papyrus and move towards how modern neuropsychologists are beginning to unravel the mysteries of an organ that is more complex than the most advanced computer known to man. By using examples from his own work, Dr Jansari will demonstrate how we can understand the devastating consequences of some forms of brain damage but also about the preserved abilities following trauma.
This information can then be used to help understand how the healthy brain functions and then this information can be used to develop rehabilitation to help the lives of the patients. For example, David cannot recognise any faces (including his wife’s), but can tell you what whether someone is happy or sad and whose vision is good enough to look at a football shirt and tell you which premiership team it belongs to. Then there is Nicola, who is so profoundly amnesic that she makes the hero of the classic film Memento look like he has a good memory! However, by capitalising on unconscious forms of memory, Dr Jansari’s team taught Nicola to use a complex Palm Top electronic device to remember to take her medication – despite this remarkable learning, each time she saw the Palm Top, she claimed never to have used it before.
After the public lecture, there will be a reception between 7 and 8pm with information displays by organisations that work with individuals with brain-related issues (e.g. Headway and the Encephalitis Society), posters about research at the School of Psychology and even models of the brain that the audience can take apart. The evening will conclude with Dr Jansari chairing a panel discussion about ‘living with brain damage’ where two of his research patients will discuss both what it means to live with this terrible life-changing event but also that it certainly is not the end of the world…..
Dr Jansari’s Brain Awareness Day’s have been really popular in the past – you don’t need to be an academic to get something out of this. If you are simply just interested in brains and what they do (and who wouldn’t be?!) then come to Stratford and enjoy an evening of exploration.
If you fancy coming along, it’s FREE and open to all – Wednesday 16th of March, 6-9pm, at UEL’s Stratford Campus
You can also find Brain Awareness Day listed on the Dana Foundation’s website.