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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Wellcome Image Awards Exhibition

Published: 9 December 2014
Matt Cotton & Prutha Patel

Scientists from the University of Southampton visit the Basingstoke Willis Museum to increase neuroscience understanding in the general public.

Glow in the dark, play doh and pipe cleaner neurons were three of the main attractions at the Willis museum this October. Using Welcome Trust images, the Willis Museum together with neuroscientists from the University of Southampton brought aspects of brain imaging and insights into neurodegenerative disease research to museum visitors. The public engagement involved two talks presented by Dr Jessica Teeling and Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola, lecturers at the University of Southampton. Dr Teeling talked about degeneration of the retina and the research undertaken at Southampton to try and slow the disease. Dr Gomez-Nicola informed the public on neurodegenerative disease research, taking the crowd through the history of neuroscience research from Cajal’s beautiful neuronal drawings to modern day fluorescent imaging techniques. The talks were well received with many probing questions.

Additionally, Dr Mark Willet and Dr Joanne Bailey together with help from third year Undergraduate student Matt Cotton and PhD student Prutha Patel, hosted a brain imaging stand at the museum open to the general public. The stand was aimed at Primary and Secondary school children, and included demonstrating the complex shapes and forms neuronal brain cells can take, how such cells can be probed and researched by growing them in a dish as well as made to ‘glow-in-the-dark’. Using the power of play doh and pipe cleaner straws, approximately 80 adults and children had the opportunity to design and make their own ‘glowing’ neuronal cell. Some of the best, which made it onto the board-of-fame, can be seen in the image above. Approximately 27 people attended the talks by Dr Teeling and Dr Gomez-Nicola, and all who visited the brain-imaging stand gained an insight into the beautiful world of brain cell imaging as well as an appreciation for the complex architecture from which our brains are made.

Notes for editors

The image above shows Matt Cotton (left) and Prutha Patel (right) displaying play doh neurons at the museum.

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