Last Friday, staff from the Del Monte Neuroscience Institute’s Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory (CNL) spent the afternoon at the Hope Hall School explaining the mysteries of the human brain and exposing students to careers in STEM fields.
Lead scientists, doctoral fellows, graduate students, technicians, and undergraduate students from CNL developed a series of interactive and accessible exhibits and activities to show the students how our senses allow us to interpret and navigate the world around us, as well as guided art projects designed to teach how the brain is organized into interconnected compartments that serve specific functions.
“The enormous complexity of the human brain and its ability to shape our perceptions and personalities is something we all take for granted, even those of us that have dedicated our lives to its study,” said John Foxe, Ph.D., the chair of the URMC Department of Neuroscience and director of the Del Monte Neuroscience Institute. “The idea of taking the lab on the road was created to help students in local schools not only understand the brain and its function, but expose them to people who work in biomedical research and hopefully spark an interest in science as a career.”
The Hope Hall School, located in Gates, serves students with special learning needs in grades 2 through 12 from school districts across the greater Rochester area. Similar events at other schools in the area are being planned by the CNL staff.
Also attending the event was Ann Costello, director of the Golisano Foundation and a community leader in efforts to expand resources for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
The CNL – which is led by Foxe and Ed Freedman, Ph.D. – is an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Rochester that focuses on understanding how the human brain works and what goes wrong when it doesn’t. Current studies at the CNL focus on a range of brain disorders, including Autism and Dyslexia in children and declining mental performance associated with aging. The CNL is also leading URMC’s participation in the ABCD study, a NIH-supported national network of academic medical centers that is undertaking the largest study of brain development in history.