|Brain Awareness Week Teaches Kids How Their
The 10th annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a science and health
education fair held in various locations across the United States,
teaches fifth through eighth grade students about the brain. In
Washington, D.C., it will take place March 16-20, 2009, at the
National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center. Several institutes from the National Institutes of Health
will provide interactive exhibits and lectures focusing on brain
health and neuroscience on March 18th and 19th. Participating institutes
include: the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Aging
(NIA), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
BAW is an annual international partnership of government agencies,
scientific organizations, universities, and volunteer groups organized
by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization
of more than 200 pre-eminent neuroscientists dedicated to advancing
education about the brain.
"We hope to seize this opportunity to inspire young people
with the fascination of brain science," said NIMH Director
Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH, the lead institute in
this year’s program. "Young researchers from our labs will
be communicating their excitement to a potential future generation
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
NIMH’s presentation, "The Wonders of the Brain," focuses
on perception. Led by young scientists in the NIMH Division of
Intramural Research, students will have the opportunity to explore
how the mind plays tricks with images it sees, such as the elephant
with too many legs or the old crone who transforms into a beauty
before your eyes. One interesting scientific anomaly that the students
will explore is the Stroop effect, first identified in 1935. If
you try to name the physical color of a word, the word itself can
interfere with the process of naming the color of the word. If
the word and color don’t match, it often takes even longer to name
the color. The purpose of the exhibit is to help the participants
think about how their brains work in order to become brain aware.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
At the NIDA booth students will be invited to a simulated party
for fun and games, where they will learn about the physical and
societal harms of alcohol and drug abuse. During the first half
of the presentation, party guests will be engaged in an interactive
discussion that will include identifying possible reasons why
people may choose to drink alcohol or take drugs, the immediate
and long-term medical and social consequences of substance abuse,
and the particular risks of binge and underage alcohol and drug
abuse. The guests will attempt to navigate an obstacle course
or hit balloons while wearing Fatal Vision prism goggles that
simulate the impaired visual and motor performance that can result
from excessive alcohol or drug abuse.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Within NIAAA’s novel, multi-sensory exhibit, students will be exposed
to the amazing "Drunken Brain," pulsating with electricity
and basking in the world of colored lights and eerie sounds, while
a scientist from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
(NIAAA) explains why alcohol interferes with sensory perception,
movement, balance, and memory, and will demonstrate which brain
circuits are involved in alcohol dependence and alcoholism.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
A scientist with the NIA’s Division of Neuroscience will be giving
a presentation on the complexity of the brain. She will explore
the uniquely human qualities such as memory, speech and abstract
thinking that reside in the brain, and will provide the students
with methods designed to maintain the health of their brains throughout
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
In the "Night of the Living Brain" exhibit,
NINDS neuroscientists will give an interactive demonstration about
sleep and how it is related to brain function. Students will learn
that the need for sleep is widespread throughout the animal kingdom,
the brain is active during sleep, and that sleep might help strengthen
memories. At the end of the demonstration, students will test their
knowledge by playing a game similar to the television show "Jeopardy." Winners
will receive an NINDS stress ball shaped like a brain.
Attendance is by pre registration only. Schools interested in
attending future events may contact Karen Graham at the Dana Foundation
at 202-408-8800 for more information about the event.
Please note: Because this event is located on an Army post, media
wishing to attend must contact Courtney MacGregor at 202-782-2671
to pre-register their names and, if applicable, vehicle information
(make, model, color, license plate, and state of registration).
Media should use the main entrance at 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW,
which intersects with Elder Street.
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research
on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older
people. For more information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
NINDS is the nation's primary supporter of biomedical research
on the brain and nervous system. Information from the NINDS about
Parkinson’s disease is available at http://www.ninds.nih.gov.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part
of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary U.S. agency
for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences,
prevention, and treatment of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol
problems and disseminates research findings to general, professional,
and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information
and publications are available at www.niaaa.nih.gov.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National
Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NIDA supports most of the world's research on the health aspects
of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large
variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact
sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information
on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA
home page at www.drugabuse.gov.
To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA's new DrugPubs
research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228
(TDD) or fax or email requests to 240-645-0227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online ordering at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) mission is to
reduce the burden of mental and behavioral disorders through research
on mind, brain, and behavior. More information is available at
the NIMH website, http://www.nimh.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic,
clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates
the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.