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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Explaining neuroscience through fashion

Published: 31 January 2013

Neuroscience researchers at Southampton will be exchanging their laboratories for a London street fair in April 2013. They will be showcasing their exciting collaboration with Winchester School of Art at the Festival of Neuroscience 2013 (7-10 April) at the Barbican Centre.

Over the last three years, the Changing Minds project has challenged second year fashion design and knitwear students to design garments inspired by research into conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. The unique clothes have already attracted attention at events and exhibitions.

Dr Shmma Quraishe has now won a grant from the Wellcome Trust to display them as part of an outreach event at a major academic conference. "People are fascinated by the garments and want to find out more about their connections with neuroscience and our research," she explains. "It is also a great opportunity to remove the stigma associated with mental illness."


Garments with connections to neuroscience and our research
Neuroscience inspired

The dress on a theme of schizophrenia was designed by Nikki Day who researched the morphology of different classes of cortical neurons and then embroidered images to convey the emerging idea that this is a disease of aberrant connectivity. The classic histological drawings of Ramon Y Cajal also inspired her. "The dress is tight and slightly restricts movement to reflect the effect these brain cell malfunctions can have in limiting people with the disease in everyday life," she says.

Lindy Holden-Dye, Professor of Neuroscience at Southampton, is delighted the initiative is introducing biological science to new audiences.  She started the collaboration with colleagues Dr Bina Nausheen and Dr Catherine Cowan in 2009 through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Excellence with Impact scheme.

Cecilia Langemar, Programme Leader in Fashion and Textile Design at Winchester School of Art is also involved. She says: "The project links in with a project that I have been running since 2008 called 'Make A Change' where the students are asked to consider how they can make a change through their fashion design ideas and concepts. It has always been a very successful and interesting project as the students expand their perception and understanding of what fashion design can be and the changes you can achieve as a designer when joining design and a particular cause."

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