Brain Awareness Week at the Nencki Institute

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From 12th-17th March 2018, the Nencki Institute PAS hosted a series of popular science events, taking place as part of Brain Awareness Week 2016 in Warsaw. The organisers were Polish Neuroscience Society (PTBUN), the Committee of Neurobiology PAS and the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology PAS. Sponsored by the Polish Academy of Sciences, along with media promotion provided by the Nauka online (portal of the magazine ACADEMIA, Polish Academy of Sciences), informational scientific blog Neuropsychologia.org, service Nauka w Polsce, filmoterapia.pl, monthly magazine Charaktery, publisher Marginesy, Gazeta Wyborcza, the radio Kampus and GEOMYS services for science. Additional support was provided by : Neurodevice, Neuroforma, BrainTech, Titanis, Lightcraft (producer of the PHOTON film) and the Centre of Eye Tracking Research (OBOswps)

 

This year’s Brain Awareness Week motto for the lectures, was THE YOUNG BRAIN. For the first five days (12th-16th March), the audience listened to lectures by renowned experts in neuroscience. The inaugural lecture, “Does the infant brain need parents for development?” was delivered by Dr hab. Przemysław Tomalski (Head of the Neurocognitive Development Lab, Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw). On Tuesday 13th March, Professor Katarzyna Kucharska (Head of the Department of Neuroses, Personality Disorders and Eating Disorders, The Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw) delivered a lecture entitled “Social Brain in Eating Disorders - Malnutrition or Neurodevelopmental Dilemma?”. The Following lecture, entitled “The bilingual brain - how different from the monolingul brain?”, was delivered by Professor Zofia Wodniecka (Head of Psychology of Language and Bilingualism Lab, Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow). On Thursday15th March, Dr Małgorzata Gut (Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń) gave a lecture entitled “Computer games, tablets and video game consoles in maths classes? The computer-assisted methods in mathematical education and in the treatment of dyscalculia”, in which she presented, among others, the therapeutic game “Calculilo”, as a possible treatment for dyscalculia. Finally, on Friday 16th March, Professor Krzysztof Turlejski (Faculty of Biology and Environmental Sciences, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw), in his lecture entitled “Development of the nervous system”, presented various facts related to that issue. All lectures were highly successful, with the conference hall always full, and members of the audience had the possibility to enhanced their knowledge about various issues raised by the lecturers. Additional discussions were provided, so that lecturers could explain various matters in more detail, along with providing additional information.

 

The final day of the event (Saturday the 17th March) was Show Day, with this years divided into three sections: (1) Brain Awareness day for children (presentations, games, and experiments); (2) Brain: how it looks from the outside and inside (neuroanatomical exhibition, showing the differences between brains of various animal species, and how they look like under a microscope); (3) Modern technologies in human brain research (virtual reality – Neuro Device; EEG – Psychophysiology Lab, IBD; Brain-computer interface – BrainTech; innovative rehabilitation support Neuroforma – Titanis). The goal of the presentations and exhibition, was to generate an interest in the brain and mind of children, adolescents, and adults.

 

During Sunday afternoon, a special screening of “Photon” (Dir. Norman Leto, 2017) took place. The film discusses the development of the universe from an artistic view and the possible vision of its future. PHOTON has received several prestigious awards, including Polityka's Passport 2017 (for building a bridge between science and art), Golden Lions 2017 (Golden Claw - Other Look Competition - the best film of the competition) and New Horizons 2017 (Audience Award). After the screening, a debate between film director (Norman Leto), film scientific consultants (physicist, Professor Piotr Magierski, and psychologist Dr Mateusz Gola), and neuroscientists taking part in the screening – Professor Małgorzata Skup and Professor Krzysztof Turlejski took place. During the 1.5hr discussion, the current scientific views, based on the issues raised by the film, were presented.