FIU scientists light up the brain at science museum

Scientists from FIU’s Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging Center (CNIC) celebrated Brain Awareness Week at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science‘s annual Brain Day event March 21.

The full-day event was open to families and children of all ages. It featured a variety of fun and educational activities illustrating the workings and complexities of the brain.

Neuroscience student, Jessica Bartley explains the regions of the brain.

Neuroscience student, Jessica Bartley uses puzzles to explain the regions of the brain.

The CNIC exhibitor booth featured a brain helmet – a hardhat fitted with LED lights in various colors representing the different regions of the brain. Using interactive brain puzzles and games along with the brain helmet, FIU neuroscience students Jessica Bartley and Julio Yanes were able to show how each region of the brain is involved in different types of thinking, including recalling memories or solving puzzles.

Brain_Day-Helmet_cropped“It’s often challenging for scientists to explain their work to non-scientists, particularly children. So I feel that outreach events like Brain Day are an excellent way for my students to gain real-world experience and further develop their science communication skills,” said physicist and CNIC Director Angela Laird. “Jessica and Julio were enthusiastic presenters during the event, and I feel that we accomplished our goal to show kids that science can be fun.”

With the help of the brain helmet, Bartley and Yanes were able to interact with children visiting the booth and explain their research in very simple terms. The display also featured a series of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) videos to explain how that type of research allows scientists to study both brain structure and function.

Laird is an authority in the field of neuroimaging or brain mapping. Her work focuses on mining and exploring big data in neuroimaging to better understand human brain function.

FIU was one of various community partners, including Baptist Health South Florida, participating in the Brain Day activities.