Brain Awareness Week at Miami University

Nu Rho Psi students at Miami University had a great time educating others about the nervous system during Brain Awareness Week.  Students and community members who visited the booth used vision impairment goggles to experience challenges faced by people with visual disorders.  They also learned about the electrical signals sent from their brain to muscles using a Muscle Spiker Box (Backyard Brains).

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Further, those brave enough let their friends take control of their arm.  Using a Human-Human Interface (Backyard Brains), movements of the “controller” person’s arm took over the “controlled” person’s arm.  This was a great way to learn about basic neuroscience and brain-machine interface technology, which is an active research and treatment area.

Visitors were also challenged by questions from a “Brain Trivia Wheel” made by graduate student Kathryn Chipchase.  Graduate student Valerine Rajathi enjoyed contributing to the week:  “Brain Awareness Week was great because I got to speak to a lot of people about my research and tell them how cool neuroscience really is! Also, I noticed an escalation in followers of our Facebook page because I posted about our Brain Awareness Week activities”.  Senior Jack Latimer also appreciated reaching out to others: “Working at tables in the Student Center was a great way for us to reach out to other students and members of the community with brain games and demonstrations. It was exciting to hear students from a variety of backgrounds express interest in learning about the healthy brain, diseases of the brain, and Nu Rho Psi.”

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Students also invited Dr. John Breneman (University of Cincinnati College of Medicine) to speak about his experiences in Neuro-oncology.  As Medical Director of Cincinnati Children’s/UC Proton Therapy Center, Dr. Breneman provided a very interesting and accessible seminar about the latest treatments for brain tumors.  Graduate student Savanna Fahoum said “I really enjoyed the talk from Dr. Breneman! It’s always exciting to learn about progress in neurological medicine and how new techniques can help more people every day!”  We were so grateful to Dr. Breneman for making time to talk to us about his work helping people survive the devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor.  We also appreciate funding and supplies provided by Miami Student Government and the Dana Foundation for our events.

Nu Rho Psi President Elizabeth Belling made Brain Awareness Week a priority this year: “This year was my last Brain Awareness Week for my undergraduate career at Miami and therefore I really wanted to see it succeed. Even if we only reached a local community, knowing that small steps were taken to promote brain research and how far it has come over the past few years has made all the difference. Hopefully, this event will be able to grow at Miami and across the country in order to achieve a greater public awareness of just how important the brain is in everyday life.” As a faculty advisor, I echo Elizabeth’s hope that we continue to educate the University and local community about the amazing nervous system!

Written by Dr. Dawn Blitz, Co-Faculty Advisor to Nu Rho Psi (Gamma in Ohio) at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).