On Friday 29 September Oxford’s Curiosity Carnival joined hundreds of other European cities in celebrating European Researchers’ Night. Our researchers took part in a city-wide programme of activities that attracted over 9,000 people.
In the Botanic Garden, people tried on vision loss simulation specs with Jasleen Jolly. She says: 'It was fantastic that so many people were interested in experiencing the vision loss that a relative may have due to eye disease.' She encouraged people to draw a family tree in the style of a genetics clinic and showcased treatments in trial including smartglasses.
Activities at this colourful Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging stall on Broad Street included 'guess the age of the brain', ‘brain snap’ and a very popular game demonstrating how the brain adapts when wearing prism glasses that shift your vision to the right.
Desiree Spronk gave a ‘bite size’ presentation about subarachnoid haemorrhage illustrated with a super-sized working model of a bursting aneurysm, covering the street with glitter (as opposed to blood). Desiree says: 'Participating in the Curiosity Corner made me think about what is really relevant for people to know and how best to communicate research to people who do not work in research. It was a fun and rewarding experience.'
21ST CENTURY PHRENOLOGY
Researchers put on a 20-minute play at the Museum of Natural History charting the history of modern neuroimaging, from Gall and his phrenology, through to large population studies using MRI. The cast included: Holly Bridge, Heidi Johansen-Berg, Saad Jbabdi and Stuart Clare, plus others from the Departments of Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology.
Chrystalina Antoniades (NDCN) and Michaela Duta (Experimental Psychology) ran a stand testing reaction times using various stimuli. They tested a new app that they have been developing, involving both visual and auditory stimuli. They also used traditional reaction time rulers and device. Chrystalina said: 'Events such as this highlight the importance of interacting with the public and thinking about the implications of your work at a larger scale'.
TICK TOCK GOES YOUR BODY CLOCK
A team from the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute got chatting to visitors at the Ashmolean about the body clock, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment performed 'Sleeping Sense' with Russell Foster.
The 'Breathe Oxford' group talked to passers-by about breathlessness and the relationship between breathing and the brain. Sarah Finnegan also took part in 'I'm a Researcher, Get me out of here!'.
BOOST YOUR BRAIN
Thomas Wassenaar and others from Heidi Johansen-Berg's group ran a station about the relationship between physical activity and the brain, as part of the 'Boost Your Brain' activity involving several researchers from across Oxford Neuroscience.Visitors examined their own physical activity habits and cognitive performance. One researcher who took part said: 'It was really nice to see so many members of public engaging with research and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, I would definitely attend an event like this again.'
The Boost Your Brain activity also featured a station about sleep and the brain manned by researchers from the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute.