UNC Neuroscientists Host Brain Activities at Museum of Life and Science


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Photos courtesy of Museum of Life and Science

Faculty, post-doctoral and undergraduate students from the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine will celebrate national “Brain Awareness Week” March 7 to 11 by hosting afternoon hands-on activities for visitors to the Museum of Life and Science. The activities are included as part of the entrance fee at the museum.

“We are very excited about this year’s activities,” said Dr. Donita Robinson, event organizer and associate professor of psychiatry at the Bowles Center. “Visitors will work with our scientists in an interactive lab to learn about how our brains control movement. They will get to operate a robotic claw by contracting their own muscles.” There will also be some animal brains on view to spark discussion. The events take place a week before the official national Brain Awareness Week, March 13-19.

Visitors of all ages are welcome to participate in the activities. Robinson, who has a 12-year-old daughter, is especially passionate about ensuring that young people and their parents receive a positive message of brain health, including the importance of protecting growing brains from drugs and alcohol. Demonstrating how the brain works is one way to convey that message, Robinson added.

“We know the younger a child is when exposed to alcohol, especially to binge drinking, the greater chance for long‐term brain changes with real health consequences, including addiction,” said Dr. Fulton T. Crews, director of the Bowles Center and John Andrews Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and psychiatry. “This is a vitally important issue for North Carolina and for the nation.”

 UNC leads a national consortium on the Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood Consortium (NADIA), also funded by NIAAA. In North Carolina, UNC and other North Carolina researchers developed a comprehensive report, “Alcohol and the Adolescent Brain: Immediate Impact, Long-Term Consequences,” as part of N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s efforts to reduce underage drinking.

The Bowles Center is one of 20 national alcohol research centers funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health. Brain Awareness Week activities represent part of the center’s education and outreach efforts.

For more information, visit the Museum of Life and Science website.

Source: Museum of Life and Science

 

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