Busloads of students from Washington, D.C., area schools will visit the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on March 17 and 18 for a special experience. These students, grades five through eight, will participate in the museum's 11th annual Brain Awareness Week. During these two days, scientists from five institutes at the National Institutes of Health will host interactive sessions focusing on brain health and neuroscience.
Brain Awareness Week is an annual international partnership of government agencies, scientific organizations, university and volunteer groups. It was started 15 years ago by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization of more than 200 preeminent neuroscientists dedicated to advancing education about the brain.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for middle school students to interact with NIH neuroscientists and learn how this fascinating area of research affects all of us," said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which is coordinating the 2010 Brain Awareness Week activities for the NIH. "We hope to convey to these young people the excitement and challenge of scientific research."
Students will rotate through the following exhibits:
- National Institute on Aging (NIA) Suzana Petanceska, Ph.D., from NIA's Division of Neuroscience, will engage students in a discussion of the possible connection between the health of the body and the health of the brain. She will present emerging scientific evidence that speaks to the importance that a healthy diet and other healthy lifestyle habits may have for maintaining their brain power to old age.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Ivana Grakalic, Ph.D., of NIAAA's Division of Neuroscience and Behavior, will present Alcohol and Brain Nonsense. Students will learn how alcohol interferes with sensory perception, movement and balance. Then students will attempt to navigate an obstacle course while wearing Fatal Vision prism goggles, which distort coordination between the eyes and muscles and allow the wearer to feel the diminished coordination and balance experienced during alcohol intoxication.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Students will play an interactive game called NIDA Derby. They will be divided in two teams to answer questions related to how drugs affect the brain and body. The winners will receive a Brain Scientist certificate.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Young scientists from the NIMH Division of Intramural Research will invite students to explore The Wonders of the Brain, to experience how the mind plays tricks with images it sees, helping participants understand how their brains work to become brain aware.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) In the Night of the Living Brain, NINDS neuroscientists will discuss the importance of sleep and its effects on the brain. After the demonstration, students will test their knowledge by playing a quiz game. Winners will receive an NINDS stress ball shaped like a brain.
Archibald Fobbs, the museum's brain collector and curator, will again host an exhibit that is a favorite among young participants. Students will have a chance to hold specimens from the museum's extensive brain collection and learn how the brain works and how malfunctions affect the nervous system.
For more information about the museum, visit www.nmhm.washingtondc.museum.
Please note: This event is located on an Army post so media wishing to attend must contact Tim Clarke at 202-782-2672 to pre-register. If applicable, vehicle information (make, model, color, license plates and state of registration) should be provided. Media should use the main entrance at 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, which intersects with Elder Street.
The NIAAA, part of the National Institutes of Health, is America's authority on alcohol research and health. The primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol problems, NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at www.niaaa.nih.gov.
The 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. For more information on NIDA research and fact sheets, go to www.drugabuse.gov.
The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and care. For more information, visit www.nimh.nih.gov.
The NINDS is the nation's primary supporter of biomedical research on the brain and nervous system. The Institute supports and conducts basic translational and clinical research on the healthy and diseased nervous system, fosters the training of investigators and seeks better understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of neurological disorders. For more information, visit www.ninds.nih.gov.
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.