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Left Brain/Right Brain

Some of our early career researchers challenged ideas about gender and the brain at this public event, and all survey respondents said they learned something new. Participants met Tom Smejka and experienced brain plasticity; Francesca Bowring and Hannah Brooks carried out some of the test used with Parkinson's patients to illustrate why we might be good at certain tasks. Abishek Arora and Desiree Spronk talked about how neurological conditions affect women and men differently, and Amy Howard and Ludovica Griffanti facilitated discussions about whether we can be said to be 'left-brained' or 'right-brained'. Colleagues from the Department of Experimental Psychology helped people interpret a series of brain scans and explored the physical differences between male and female brains.

The concluding presentation summed up some learning from the event: there may be some observable differences between male and female brains - but does it matter? And might environmental factors during development have a significant role to play?

My love affair with the brain

On Tuesday 12 March, we hosted a film screening at the Ultimate Picture Palace on Cowley Road. The film, My Love Affair with the Brain, charted the life and science of Dr Marian Diamond, who worked on brain plasticity in the US from the 1950s onwards.

After the film, Stacie Allan chaired a panel of three female neuroscientists: Head of Department Irene Tracey, Karla Miller, and Michele Veldsman. We heard from them about their own journeys and current work, and then the floor was opened to the 100-strong audience for questions, which ranged from the philosophical (Descartes and the mind/body split) to the personal (someone who had recently had brain surgery wanted to know how recent technological developments have influenced such operations).

Art, Illusions and the Visual Brain

On Thursday at the Museum of the History of Science, Emeritus Professor Christopher Kennard, who has spent a lifetime studying the visual system, revealed how easily it can play tricks with our mind.


Eminent French neuroscientist Zoï Kapoula discussed the ways that museum-based research is helping us understand the complex mechanisms of the human brain. This workshop was a partnership with the Ashmolean University Engagement Programme and Chrystalina Antoniades. Artist Rebecca Ivatts was also involved and exhibited some art based on deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's. There was much discussion about the bridge between art and neuroscience.