Brain Awareness week is coming up, and nothing blows my mind like neuroscience! If you are in the Eugene, OR area on March 10, come by the WOW Hall for the Brain Awareness Expo, featuring researchers from the University of Oregon Brain Development Lab as well as a Science Factory table where I and another educator will be doing some brain tricks and games!
In the meantime, take a moment to be aware of your brain; it’s there and it’s incredible. A couple of weeks ago, our museum hosted University Day, and our friends at the UO Brain Development Lab stopped by with some amazing things to share. The coolest item (in my opinion) was the preserved human brain of a 40-year-old woman. There’s nothing like seeing the delicate organ exposed in its fragility to bring a person down and centered on the fantastical things we living creatures are.
For a starting taste on some neuroscience (that you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to understand and appreciate) check out David Eagleman’s newest book, Incognito or books by V.S. Ramachandran, I highly recommend Phantoms in the Brain.
One of the funnest ways to celebrate brain awareness is with optical illusions! We’ll be bringing some with us to the Expo next week, but until then, here is one of my favorites, The Spinning Girl
When you look at her, she might look like she’s spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise, but the trick is to see if you can force your brain to make her switch directions. It’s tough for me, but it helps if I look at one of the edges of the image and imagine her spinning a different direction when I keep her in my peripheral vision. For some ideas on how/ why this works, check out this post in Neurologica from 2007