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Neuroscience volunteers, including DPhil student Ioana Grigoras, presented the work of research group Breathe Oxford at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Four researchers and a brain/lungs model at Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

From the 1st to 7th of July, a team of Neuroscience volunteers, including our DPhil student Ioana Grigoras, presented the work of research group Breathe Oxford, led by Kyle Pattinson, at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. The week-long event was a display of 22 stands showing pioneering UK science. Members of the general public could try hands-on experiments and talk to researchers.

The Breathing with your Brain stand explored the brain's role in perceiving breathlessness and the influence of a person's expectations and mood. Neuroimaging can identify the brain regions  activated during panicked breathing and inform predictive models of symptom generation to better understand breathlessness.

A 3D-printed lung and brain model showed the lungs inflating and deflating at the normal breathing rate, while the brain areas involved in calm breathing would light up. Children loved pressing the ‘panic’ button, which made the lungs ‘breathe’ at a faster, irregular rate. This showed what extra regions in the brain would light up during panicked breathing and we could talk to them about the roles of the regions.

The stand also included the Steppatron, a step test done while breathing normally and then while breathing through a straw. This mimicked the sensation of breathlessness and raised awareness of the experience of breathlessness and how much impact those emotions have on everyday life.

Finally, musical performances and mindfulness workshops ran several times a day, illustrating the important role of breathing in art, creativity, and tranquility.