Pikachu or Purkinje?

Northwest Noggin was ably represented at the Camas 4 Kids Health Fair in Camas, Washington this weekend by Joey Seuferling, the Noggin Resource Council member for hospital and health care outreach, who authored this post…

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It was a beautiful and brainy day at the Camas 4 Kids Health Fair where NW Noggin joined in to teach about neuroscience, psychology, and the compelling pull of pipe cleaner neurons…

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We had outreach volunteers Allie Clark and Jessica Patching-Bunch from Psychology at Portland State University, and Ben Yefimov from Neuroscience at Washington State University Vancouver participate.

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Noggin joined a crowd of community healthcare professionals, who spent the day educating kids about everything from dental care to podiatry.  We fielded sharp questions about the structure of neurons, and how they form the vast neural networks involved in perception, cognition, and memory consolidation. Amazing neuronal art was made with pipe cleaners!

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As we crafted our cells, we talked about the huge diversity of neuron shape and size, from tiny granule cells to the astonishingly forest-like dendrites of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum…

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The outer folds of the brain provoked interesting questions for Noggin volunteers, and we explained the functions of various sulci and gyri in the densely packed cerebral cortex. Our Rhesus monkey brain gave us an opportunity to discuss the role of the brain to body ratio in determining the size of cortex, as specific cortical areas are devoted to mapping sensory input and motor output and necessarily reflect the size of specific animals…

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We had a neurosurgeon from OHSU visit our table, who was curious about NW Noggin outreach and how he and other surgeons might get involved..!

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Not the neurosurgeon!  However, the human brains we brought to Doc Harris Stadium definitely attracted interesting visitors, including Pikachu!  (Our Pokemon celebrity really wanted to hold a brain but we didn’t have any super-sized fingerless nitrile gloves with us this weekend…)

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Overall, the event was a fantastic opportunity to discuss the importance of art, research, and neuroscience in education!

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