Love & Brains @ P:ear

“Alas poor Yorick’s” Shakespearean skull  –  and a whole skeleton!  –  greeted our NW Noggin volunteers on a Tuesday return to P:ear..!

We are thrilled to be back at this extraordinary and essential community nonprofit, which provides a warm, supportive, arts-filled educational space in downtown Portland, filled with caring staff and volunteers for young people, many of whom lack access to safe housing.

PLEASE DONATE:  P:ear: creatively mentoring homeless youth

When we arrived at their Old Town location, many were busy painting canvases, enjoying food and coffee, and playing chess.  And several people were pretty curious and already quite knowledgeable about human brains…

Noggin volunteers, who all completed mandatory P:ear training earlier in the year, included Erin McConnell and Jessica Patching-Bunch from Psychology at Portland State University, and Sam Carpenter and Scott Jones from Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU.  We are here at P:ear for four consecutive Tuesdays, and will soon be joined by additional volunteers from PSU, OHSU and PNCA…

The questions we got were amazing:  With what we know about brains, why don’t we already have conscious robots?  Why does making art calm me down?  Is marijuana as bad as alcohol, or nicotine, for teenagers?  Where in the brain is love?  (this was Valentine’s Day ❤️ after all 🙂

EXPLORE MORE:  Love-related changes in the brain: a resting-state fMRI study

Chemistry of Love II, Kindra Crick:  Mixed media, Reimagined anatomical Valentine with cascade of the neurotransmitter oxytocin released from the pituitary which plays a role in both birth and bonding.

EXPLORE MORE:  The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love, lust, and labor

We had terrific conversations about what made us different from robots with artificial intelligence (at least thus far!), including the lack of felt bodily consequences for the social decisions and actions by machines, and what love is in terms of felt experience, motivations and behaviors.  Definitions are critical, we noted, in order to tie specific cognitive or perceptual aspects to structural networks, and their interactions, in the brain…

Noggin Arts Coordinator Jeff Leake assisted many in creating their own brain-related prints…

And of course, we had opportunities to answer more questions about brains, while actually handling them… 🙂

Many, many thanks to Sarah Louise Allen, the Education Coordinator for P:ear, for welcoming us back!

And from the following Noggin Tuesday (2/21)…

Benefits & limits of neurons @ P:ear

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