Mar 13 2009 Posted: 00:00 GMT
A special interactive exhibition is being organised by NUI Galway scientists from 19-20 March as part of Brain Awareness Week. The exhibition, which will be situated on the ground floor of the Eyre Square Shopping Centre, aims to raise public awareness of the importance of brain health, and neuroscience research in Ireland. The exhibition will feature a 3D brain model, and visitors will be able to use a computer based test to determine which side of their brain is dominant – the left or right hemisphere. Informative drawings for children to colour will be provided, along with puzzles to test visitors of all ages. Also available will be literature on various brain illnesses, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease, and video footage of a neuroscience researcher talking about stroke research. An art exhibition will showcase colourful and dramatic neuroscience research images, giving close-up pictures of some of the brain's billions of nerves cells and trillions of synaptic connections. The event is being organised by NUI Galway's Neuroscience Research Cluster, led by Dr Karen Doyle: "We hope this exhibition will be fun and interesting for all who attend, young and old. We'll have tips and advice on simple things that everyone can do to look after their brain, from eating right and exercising to wearing a helmet when cycling. Awareness of our brains' needs can help us live long and healthy lives, free from brain injuries and disorders". In Ireland, disorders of the brain affect some one million people and Health Service Executive data shows that it spends some €216 million annually on drugs, medicines and appliances. Disorders that are traditionally regarded as psychiatric account for approximately two thirds of the total costs, while neurological and neurosurgical disorders account for the final third. The expansion of the aged population and the inevitable rise in numbers of those suffering from age-related brain disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease has placed increased pressure on researchers to identify new therapies. Dr Doyle adds: "Science is making huge progress in understanding how the amazing human brain works. It is sobering to think that there are around 6,000 people suffering from Parkinson's disease in Ireland and as many as 35,000 who have been diagnosed with senile dementia. Disorders such as anxiety and migraine, due to their high prevalence, are also very costly to society. The need for further research and development in disorders of the brain is obvious and in the long-run it might well pay for itself by easing the burden on healthcare systems". The exhibition is funded by the Dana Foundation, through the Federation of Neuroscience Societies in Europe.