Get Smart with ‘Brain: The World Inside Your Head’
The Smithsonian Institution introduced “BRAIN: The World Inside Your Head,” an exhibit that provides a hands-on and up-close look at the human body’s most essential and fascinating organ by exploring its development, geography and function. In the process, the exhibition makes brain-related disorders easier to understand.
“BRAIN” is made possible by Pfizer Inc and was produced by Evergreen Exhibitions of San Antonio, Texas, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. Using virtual reality, video games, optical illusions and interactive displays it shows how the brain functions and how, like other parts of the body, it can sometimes malfunction.
Actor-director Anjelica Huston, whose family and close friends have struggled with dyslexia and other brain-related conditions, marked the inauguration of this innovative exhibit by launching a national public education campaign on the brain and its disorders.
“Whether we’re talking about dyslexia or depression, Alzheimer’s or anxiety disorders, it’s important for people to know that brain-based conditions have a physical cause and that treatments are available,” said Huston. “By talking openly and honestly in our families about these conditions, we can help remove the stigmas that have become associated with them.”
“This is an exciting educational experience that parents will want to share with their children,” said the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Science, J. Dennis O’Connor. “From the moment visitors walk into the exhibit, right through the electrical workings of a re-created functioning brain, they will be amazed by this groundbreaking presentation of important scientific information.”
Two objects in the exhibit come from the Smithsonian. One is a human skull from around 1300, found in Cinco Cerros, Peru, with signs of cranial surgery. The other is an epoxy cast of a triceratops brain cavity, made from a bisected fossil skull from an animal that lived around 70 million years ago. Both are from the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, which houses more than 120 million items.
“The National Institutes of Health is delighted to be playing a role in this innovative, interactive exhibit at the Smithsonian,” said Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, acting director of the National Institutes of Health, which is celebrating 50 years of brain research this year. ” ‘BRAIN: The World Inside Your Head’ will provide a first-hand opportunity for millions of adults and children across the country to learn and understand more about the brain, one of science’s most exciting and challenging fields of research.”
“BRAIN: The World Inside Your Head” will travel to 15 major science centers and natural history museums nationwide throughout its tour. Those unable to visit the exhibit can go towww.pfizer.com/brain to take a virtual tour of the exhibit.
38 Percent of Families Affected by Brain-related Conditions
According to a recent Pfizer survey, 38 percent of American adults said they have a family member with a brain-related disorder; yet only 16 percent of parents said they have “very thoroughly discussed” mental illness with their children. Many more parents have “very thoroughly discussed” such traditionally delicate issues as underage alcohol use (64 percent) and illegal drugs (69 percent) with their children.
“Because brain-related conditions can be difficult to understand and are often stigmatized, parents may find it difficult to discuss these issues openly,” said Dr. Randall Kaye, director-team leader, Pediatric Health, Pfizer Inc. “Educating our children – and perhaps in the process, ourselves – is the first step in helping all people understand that brain-based conditions can and should be treated like any other physical disease or condition.”
“I can say from personal experience, that understanding the condition is truly the key that unlocks a family’s ability to cope with issues like these,” said Huston. “In my family’s case, my nephew’s misdiagnosed and misunderstood dyslexia – initially attributed to everything from behavior issues to even mental retardation – created a negative family dynamic that did not improve until he was correctly diagnosed and properly treated.”
A Guide for Parents
Pfizer has funded a new guide for parents through the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, titled “Talking to Kids About Brain-related Conditions.” Like the exhibit, this brochure explains brain-related conditions and helps parents and children to talk about these important, sensitive issues. It is available free by calling 1-800-882-3718 or atwww.pfizer.com/brain.
“When a friend or family member with a brain-related condition has symptoms or acts differently, it can be scary or confusing for kids,” Kaye said. “But, it’s very important for parents to calm their fears, and help their child understand and cope. With this education campaign, we want to give parents and adult care-givers the tools they need to talk with their children.”
Founded in 1849, Pfizer is the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company taking new approaches to better health. Pfizer discovers and develops innovative medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. Through consistent, high quality manufacturing and distribution operations, Pfizer medicines reach patients in 180 nations. Pfizer also partners with health care providers, governments, and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality healthcare and health system support. Pfizer colleagues work everyday to help people stay happier and healthier longer and to reduce the human and economic burden of disease worldwide.
Evergreen Exhibitions provides state-of-the-art family educational experiences, and serves as a major development partner with more than 200 leading museums and research institutions.
The National Institutes of Health, serving as a partner in exhibition production and content collaboration, is the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States government and one of the world’s foremost medical research centers. The NIH, comprised of 27 separate institutes and centers, conducts a wide range of brain-related research in areas including neurological disorders, substance abuse and addiction, and mental health disorders.
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Source: Evergreen Exhibitions