Science, Fun of Brain Study Unfolds at Duke


On Sunday, hundreds of people stepped underground to ponder the body’s most curious organ: the brain.

The Duke Institute for Brain Science invited the public into its new state-of-the art facility to hear about all the ways that knowing more about the brain will help solve the world’s most vexing problems.

The event ended a week of seminars and talks to celebrate Brain Awareness Week.

“Generally, people are surprised to hear we know as much as we do about the brain,” said Minna Ng, the institute’s education strategies and community partnerships. “On the flip side, we still don’t know a whole lot.”

Teams of students and faculty converged in classrooms and alcoves Sunday to tell visitors everything they had been learning, and how those lessons revolved around the brain. Each team brought together faculty and students from diverse majors to study complicated questions.

Among them: How can we figure out exactly when and how the brain is injured while playing sports? How have artists come to know and portray faces over time, and what does our brain register when studying art? What is actually happening when a mother smokes while pregnant?

“To answer the largest questions, we need to convene a whole academic force,” said Zab Johnson, co-director of the institute.

That’s the mission of the Institute, which started in 2007. Duke University recognized that it wasn’t just neuroscientists who needed to or were capable of studying the brain. And understanding the brain would unlock the answers to so many questions.

Read the full article by Mandy Locke on The News & Observer website.