Friday, December 7, 2007

Believe what you see? Think twice

On November 8, I mentioned a talk taking place in Barcelona entitled “Artistic creation and brain”, and that the speaker would be introduced by Mara Dierssen, a neuroscientist who works at the CRG and who had recently organised a ‘brain fair’ about the illusions of the brain. Well. Here’s an excerpt of what happened on that day (taken from the PRBB newspaper I write, el•lipse):

It is possible to see a hand which is obviously fake and have the feeling that it is your own; or to think that your nose is more than 1’5 meters. The more than 350 visitors to the scientific fair “Brain illusions”, celebrated last October 28 at the Sala 2 Razzmatazz, are now conscious of how the perception of our body is something easy to manipulate.

This fair, which took place within the context of the Science Year, was organised by Mara Dierssen, from the CRG, and was financed by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the CRG. The centre also helped with the organisation, together with science journalist Guillermo Santamaria, who worked on the production, and several neurobiology, interactive communication and physiology research groups who came to be part of this initiative.

The fair had several aims. On the one hand, to bring neurosciences to the streets, through experiments that surprise and make one question things. Secondly, to get scientists and patient associations closer, in order to establish contacts: this objective was met with a future collaboration between UPF researchers and an association of autistic children. Finally, to emphasize the close relationship between science and art, several unknown young music groups were given the chance to play in public (incidentally, they had been discovered by Mara and her collaborators via MySpace!). During the celebration there was also a première of a music theme composed by a girl with Down Syndrome (DS). This fact inspired collaboration between the Catalan Foundation for Down Syndrome and the rock group in which Dierssen sings. Children with DS will write the lyrics of the songs, and the group will compose the music.

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