Edinboro University stimulates brain waves with family-friendly expo


Brain Awareness Day

When your elbow bends or you wiggle your toes, your body interacts with the organ responsible for all of these functions: the brain.

Weighing on average around three pounds, the spongy mass and network of cells allows humans to breathe, love, remember and think.

This fascinating and complex organ will be on display during a hands-on, family-friendly exhibit on Saturday, March 16. Edinboro University’s Psychology Club and the Psychology Department are hosting Brain Awareness Day from noon until 3 p.m. by the Macy’s Court at Millcreek Mall.

Field experts and Edinboro students will be on hand to showcase the intricacies of the brain and host crafts for all ages.

“There have been amazing advances in neuroscience that put the brain at the forefront of conversations about mental and physical health, education and even criminal justice,” said Dr. Peter McLaughlin, professor in Edinboro’s Psychology Department and organizer of the annual event. “It's important for us to engage with the public – especially future generations – so everyone sees the importance of better understanding their brain.”

Children of all ages and their families are invited to participate in the free events, which include games, hands-on activities and crafts. As part of the fun, children will join a dozen Edinboro psychology majors to make pipe-cleaner neurons while discovering different parts of the brain cell. Elementary-aged children are invited to decorate brain-themed hats to take home.

Middle school and high school-aged students will challenge their own brains through a series of optical and auditory illusions. All attendees will receive goodie bags filled with information about mental and brain health – and how to stay sharp as you get older.

The goal of Brain Awareness Day is to increase understanding of the brain with relation to behavior, inspire careers in neuroscience, improve awareness of mental health issues and promote healthy lifestyles.

“Brain Awareness Day also provides service learning for Edinboro students who are studying to become psychologists,” said McLaughlin, who is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and former Edinboro University Scholar of the Year.

Founded in 2009, Edinboro’s Brain Awareness Day at Millcreek Mall attracts nearly 300 visitors each year.

The global Brain Awareness Week connects scientists and educators with families, schools and communities. This year’s campaign will take place from March 11-17 across the world, with scientists and families joining for open neuroscience labs, brain exhibitions, brain-related lectures and displays at libraries and community centers.

The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives launched the global program in 1996 to raise awareness of the benefits of brain research. The week of activities and presentations is co-sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience.

For more information about Brain Awareness Day activities at the Millcreek Mall, contact McLaughlin at (814) 732-1787 or visit the official Brain Awareness Day at the Millcreek Mall Facebook page.