Special week focuses on the brain

It's in your mind . . . Brain Awareness Week co-ordinator Jane Reynolds (left) and Brain Health Research Centre science writer Blaise Cahill-Lane show off a neuron and miniature brain. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

The brain will be at the top of everyone’s mind this week during a series of events in the city.

Brain Awareness Week will be held in Dunedin from today (Tuesday) until Sunday.

Brain Awareness Week co-ordinator Jane Reynolds said there would be a “huge variety” of events for anyone interested in learning more about their brain.

“Hopefully, we have got something there that everyone will find quite interesting,” she said.

“If anything starts going wrong with it [your brain] it can be very distressing [and] change your mood and behaviour.

understand what your brain is and what is wrong.”

Associate professor Christine Jasoni will moderate a panel discussion called Brain Tools for the Future: Genes, Machines and Viruses, during which panelists will discuss seemingly futurist technologies that are becoming available to scientists.

“I feel we are on the threshold of a new era in neuroscience and treatment for brain diseases and conditions,” Mrs Reynolds said.

Brain Health Research Centre science writer Blaise Cahill-Lane said there were three techniques that could be used to treat specific areas of the brain – Crispr, neuromodulation and optogenetics.

Crispr was a very precise way of gene editing, neuromodulation was activation of a specific region of the brain using an electric stimulator and optogenetics involved activating very specific brain cells using viral vectors and a light-emitting implant.

“If something’s wrong and our brain needs treatment, it’s really hard to get it to because the body works hard to protect it,” Mrs Cahill-Lane said.

Members of the public are welcome to attend any of the events during the week.