Gray really matters: a child-focused Brain Awareness Week

March 18, 2009

Students in the 5th to 8th grades can stock up on "brain food" at the 10th annual Brain Awareness Week, a science- and health education-based fair sweeping various cities across the nation.

Students in the 5th to 8th grades can stock up on "brain food" at the 10th annual Brain Awareness Week, a science- and health-education-based fair taking place in various cities dotting the nation.

Washington, D.C.'s version of the fair is going on now through Mar. 20 at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Youth can participate in interactive exhibits and lectures addressing brain health and neuroscience at any of several National Institutes of Health facilities.

The brain-focused week represents an international gathering of government agencies, scientific organizations, universities, and volunteer groups, headed by a nonprofit group, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, which is comprised of more than 200 neuroscientists.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director Thomas R. Insel, MD, said the groups "hope to seize this opportunity to inspire young people" with the intrigue of brain science.

Highlights from various agencies include:

  • NIMH: "The Wonders of the Brain" presentation, focusing on perception. Learn how the mind can trick the eye with images it sees. The goal is to help students consider how the brain operates and to increase awareness of its capabilities.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The "Drunken Brain” exhibit is a multi-sensory project to show how alcohol interrupts sensory perception, movement, balance, and memory. It will also show what happens to brains of people who become dependent on alcohol.

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA). Youth can attend a presentation on the complexity of the brain, including the functions of memory, speech and abstract thinking, and how to preserve those functions.