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On Thursday 3 August, our Department hosted a visit from the London International Youth Science Forum, a two-week residential event that attracts more than 500 of the world’s leading young scientists from more than 75 countries.

The 25 students enjoyed an interactive session on breathlessness with Sarah Finnegan and Lucy Marlow, who are both part of the Breathe Oxford project.The students were asked to exercise while breathing through a straw wearing nose clips. On the first occasion they were asked to think negative thoughts about getting out of breath and on the second positive thoughts e.g. reaching the top of a mountain).They then wrote down their breathlessness feelings, which clearly showed how the brain can manipulate the way breathing feels.

The whole day was eye-opening and enjoyable. My favourite part would have to be the session where we looked at different parts of the human brain. It was such an enlightening experience.
- 18-year-old Jeninna Cruz from Australia

Olaf Ansorge gave the students a tour of the neuropathology labs. They had the opportunity to look at real human brains from the Oxford Brain Bank with Margaret Esiri. They looked at dissected sections under the microscope, and saw advanced scanning techniques.

Martyn Ezra and Desiree Spronk then talked about subarachnoid haemorrhage and how aneurysms are being treated. They discussed how they are trying to find brain markers to predict secondary strokes in the future. The students saw a real-time EEG demonstration on the screen and learned about different MRI techniques. Particular topics of interest among the students were why do aneurysms burst, can blood be toxic to the brain and why are neurosurgeons treating aneurysms from the groin instead of an artery closer to the brain.

Lastly, Matthew Tompkins from the Department of Experimental Psychology demonstrated behavioural visual experiments, based on sleight of hand magic tricks, which he uses to investigate inattentional blindness and illusory perceptions.

This event was supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.