Lifebrain back at the Oslo Science Expo
Last week Lifebrain participated in the Oslo Science Expo for the second year in a row. The aim of this event is to make science and research available to the public. The sun was shining and curious school classes, tourists and families visited our tent.
All smiles while building the brain.
This year’s theme was about how the environment can affect the brain. We integrated this theme with the Dried Blood Spot (DBS) technology developed by Vitas, one of the Lifebrain partners. Visitors could give two small drops of blood from their fingertip to find out the levels of heavy metals in their blood. Depending on dose, heavy metals may be toxic to humans and exposure has been associated with poor cognitive abilities and memory decline (Karri et al., 2016).
Heavy metals are found naturally in our environment, but are also present due to contamination from human activities such as industry, traffic and agriculture. If the concentrations of heavy metals are high in air, soil, foods or water, we might be exposed to harmful levels. In Lifebrain we are currently collecting DBS from participants in several different cohorts.
We also had a virtual reality (VR) bike in the tent, demonstrated by the Center for Lifespan Changes in Brain and Cognition (LCBC) at the University of Oslo (LCBC is the coordinating institution for the Lifebrain project). The VR bike is part of an ongoing project at LCBC in which research participants work on training their ability to navigate to different landmarks in a virtual town, with the help of a bike and VR glasses. Visitors could go for a bike tour in our virtual town. This was fascinating to many and because the line of people was so long, we even had to make a waiting list for trying the VR-setup.
While waiting in line to try the VR-glasses people where challenged to take our brain Kahoot quiz. Among other questions, they had to answer how big a fraction of our lives we spend asleep (answer: one third).
The Norwegian Brain Council, one of our collaborators in an ongoing brain health survey, let us borrow their brain puzzle. This was particularly popular among young children. They had to put together the four lobes of our brain in addition to the cerebellum, and got to know about their different functions; for example visual information is processed in the very back of our brains, as far away from the eyes as possible.
Hope to see you again next year!