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Brain Awareness Week 2014

Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. The Integrative Neuroscience Center of Biomedical Research Excellence and the Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience presented a host of student oriented activities at UNR to celebrate and explore the wonders of the brain.

About Global Brain Awareness Week
Every March, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. Activities are limited only by the organizers' imaginations and include open days at neuroscience labs; exhibitions about the brain; lectures on brain-related topics; social media campaigns; displays at libraries and community centers; classroom workshops; and more.

Tuesday, March 11

4:00 pm Concussions: What's the big deal?
Bradlee K Sako, MD
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center Rotunda
Dr. Sako addresses current knowledge about sports related brain injuries. What you should know and what you should do about it.

4:45 pm Building a Robot's Brain
Fred Harris (Computer Science)
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center Rotunda
Dr. Harris explains his team's project to build a computational model of a brain - starting with the behavior of a single neuron and multiplying it hundreds of thousands of times to simulate brain activity. This model then drives robots who scurry through a maze like a mouse searching for sustenance.

Wednesday, March 12

4 pm Composition for EEG and Two Computers
Gideon Caplovitz (Psych) and Jean-Paul Perrotte (Music)
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center Rotunda
A live performance of approximately 8 minutes in duration that explores ways of presenting different forms of data in new and interesting musical and visual contexts. Streams of numbers, or data, are sent into a Max/MSP patch and converted to produce sound. The data is also used to manipulate video of brain MRIs. During performance, all this technology is artfully sculpted to create a stunning aural and visual experience.

4:30 pm Brains and Persuasion
Lynda Walsh (English)
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center Rotunda
Rhetoricians study how people persuade others to share their point of view. Recently, images of brains and brain activity have become intensely involved in persuasion, particularly in public media. Research has shown that simply showing an image of a brain in a media article, no matter how remotely related to the content, causes people to take the article's claims more seriously. The new field of neurorhetorics investigates this phenomenon-as well as the other side of the equation: what can current neuroscience tell us about the way people argue and persuade each other? This talk gives a brief orientation to recent work both on the rhetoric of neuroscience and the neuroscience of rhetoric.

5:30 pm Nu Rho Psi Induction Ceremony
Neuroscience Honor Society Inaugural Induction Ceremony
Guest Speaker: Melvyn Goodale (The Brain and Mind Institute)
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center Rotunda
Nu Rho Psi is the National Honor Society in Neuroscience, founded in 2006 by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. We are honored to have world renown neuroscientist Melvyn Goodale as our keynote speaker at UNR's inaugural induction ceremony.

7 pm Movie: Inception
The Joe Crowley Student Union Theater
Google Inception and neuroscience and you'll understand why we've included it in our Brain Awareness Week lineup. It's neuroscientist movie critics gold mine.
Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.

Thursday, March 13

4 pm The Brain and Economic Behavior: Rational versus non-rational decisions
Mark Pingle (Economics)
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center Rotunda
Recent research in behavioral economics had identified a variety of ways in which decision behavior deviates from what has traditionally been considered rational. Using the tools of neuroscience, some non-rational behaviors have been related to particular brain activity. In this interaction session, those who attend will get the opportunity to play one or more standard "games" used in behavioral economics to student decision behavior. The results will then be discussed to expose those who participate to significant findings in both behavioral economics research and neuroscience research.

7 pm KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Human echolocation: How the blind use tongue-clicks to navigate the world

Mel Goodale, (The Brain and Mind Institute) and Brian Bushway (World Access for the Blind)
Davidson Math and Science 110
NOTE: Continuing Medical Education credit available for this event.
"I can hear a building over there"

Everybody has heard about echolocation in bats and dolphins. These creatures emit bursts of sounds and listen to the echoes that bounce back to detect objects in their environment. What is less well known is that people can echolocate, too. In fact, there are blind people who have learned to make clicks with their mouth and tongue - and to use the returning echoes from those clicks to sense their surroundings. Some of these people are so adept at echolocation that they can use this skill to go mountain biking, play basketball, or navigate through unfamiliar buildings. In this talk, we will learn about several of these echolocators - some of whom train other blind people to use this amazing skill.

Testing in our laboratory has revealed that, by listening to the echoes, blind echolocation experts can sense remarkably small differences in the location of potential obstacles. They can also perceive the size and shape of objects, and even the material properties of those objects - just by listening to the reflected echoes from mouth clicks. It is clear that echolocation enables blind people to do things that are otherwise thought to be impossible without vision, providing them with a high degree of independence in their daily lives.
Using neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI), we have also shown that the echoes activate brain regions in the blind echolocators that would normally support vision in the sighted brain. In contrast, the brain areas that process auditory information are not particularly interested in these faint echoes. This work is shedding new light on just how plastic the human brain really is.

About Melvyn Goodale:
World's leading visual neuroscientist, Melvyn Goodale, is best known for his research on the human brain as it performs different kinds of visual tasks. Goodale has lea much neuroimaging and psychosocial research that has had an enormous influence in the life sciences and medicine. His "two-visual-systems proposal" is now part of almost every textbook in vision, cognitive neuroscience, and psychology. He is a member of the Royal Society, joining the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

About Brian Bushway:
Brian is the program manager for World Access for the Blind, a non-profit organization which teaches mobility and sensory awareness orientation. He acts as a mobility coach for the blind and a teacher of sighted mobility instructors on the use of echolocation. He designs and implements perception development plans for each client. When not teaching, Brian offers technical and emotional advice to families. He lost his sight at 14.

For more information about echolocation, see:

Continuing Education Credit
Physicians: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). The University of Nevada School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education to physicians. The University of Nevada School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Nurses: The University of Nevada School of Medicine approves this program for 1.00 hours of nursing continuing education credit.

Additional Activities

Seeing the Brain: History of Neuroimaging
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center, Whittemore Gallery (outside of Wells Fargo Auditorium)
Exquisite hand drawn images of neurons by Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852 - 1934) juxtaposed with spectacular brain images created with cutting edge technology.

Café Wall Grande: Giant interactive optical illusion
Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center, Nevada Writers Hall of Fame
This large-scale (8' x 8' x 4') Café Wall optical illusion begs you to ferret out whether the lines are parallel or skewed. Turn the wheel to straighten out your thinking. Test your perception with additional large mounted illusions and learn why things aren't always as they seem.

BAW Art Contest
First place and honorable mention entries in the BAW Fine Arts and Logo art contests will be displayed in the @One Gallery in the Mathewson-ITG Knowledge Center.

Daily brain activities and demonstrations for kids
Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, 490 S. Center Street - Reno, NV 89501
March 12-15

The Last Frontier: The Brain Hands On Display/Activities for K-12 guests
Fleishmann Planetarium, March 10-14.

Brains! How your brain works and how it tricks you
Presentation for Senior Citizens
Amanda Burnham-Marusich
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Warren Nelson Building
401 W. Second St., Suite 235, Reno, NV 89503
March 13, 12:00pm

Perform hands-on activities to understand how different parts of the brain work and how illusions use shortcuts in the brain to trick us. Hear about recent research into how you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and performing its best. See real brains from mice, sheep, and fruit flies to see how our species have shared brain structures and abilities but also key differences. Touch and hold preserved (but very real) human brains from the University of Nevada School of Medicine to appreciate the amazing wonder that is inside your head. Dr. Amanda Burnham-Marusich, a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and two UNR neuroscience students will lead the class and demonstrations.

For additional information contact:
Heather Goulding
Program Manager, Integrative Neuroscience Center of Biomedical Research Excellence or 682-8695

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