Orpheum hosts event to learn about the brain

Orpheum hosts event to learn about the brain

CHAMPAIGN — Hey kids, what has 100 billion nerve cells, weighs about 3 pounds, and controls everything you do from tying your shoes to what you want on your pizza.

Your brain!

Want to known more about this important and complex organ between your ears?

The neuroscience folks at the University of Illinois have an afternoon of educational fun and games planned to help everyone learn more about what our brains do and what's going on these days in brain research.

Brain Awareness Day will be held 1 to 5 p.m. April 14 at the Orpheum Children's Science Museum at 346 N. Neil St., C.

Admission is free, and the rest of the museum is also open to visitors, says Roberto Galvez, a behavioral science professor in the UI psychology department.

About 20 brain awareness activities are planned, he said. Children attending will get a passport to all the activities, and those getting a stamp at each event will get a prize when they leave.

Some of what's in store this year:

— Brains up close: See and hold real brains, human and animal ones. Then take some modeling clay and try making your own to take home.

— Edible neurons: They're building blocks of the nervous system, but at this event they can be built out of fun things to eat, then munched on right there or taken home.

— Brain computer interface machines: How would you like to control a robotic claw or make balls move through a maze just by thinking about it? Put on a special cap and give it a try.

— Changing perceptions: Put on some special goggles and see how your brain helps you adjust to seeing the world differently.

— Hear through a cochlear implant, which gives a sense of sound to the deaf.

— Learn about why the brains of smaller creatures, like fish, bees and sea slugs, provide vital insights into how the human brain works.

Galvez said several labs will be setting up at the Orpheum with displays and participants to talk about what they do in such areas of learning and behavior, psychology, engineering and entomology.