Furman Celebrates Brain Awareness Week


By Marian Baker, Staff Writer

Members representing the Collaborative  Neuroscience Society, a student organization at Furman, spearheaded the Brain Awareness Week celebration March 14-20.

Brain Awareness Week is a global celebration launched by the The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives as well as the Society for Neuroscience. Brain Awareness Week is just one aspect of their Brain Awareness Campaign that aims to bring attention to brain science advances and to advocate for science funding. Typically, hundreds of schools, universities, museums and other organizations participate through events such as open houses, demonstrations and hands-on activities.

Much of Brain Awareness Week is targeted to middle and high school students, with many educational programs emphasizing the importance of protecting your brain.

“Around middle school, kids tend to start thinking that they are invincible,” Victoria Turgeon, Ph.D., a neuroscience professor at Furman, said. “It is important to get kids to realize that your brain just does not heal like any other wound on the body.”

Several neuroscience students honored the mission of Brain Awareness Week by visiting the Frazee Dream Center to teach middle school students about the brain. The students also presented an interactive program, asking the middle school students what they knew about the brain and giving out brain-related prizes. To conclude, they also discussed ways in which the students could keep their brains healthy, such as avoiding drugs and engaging in social interaction.

After the presentation, a hands-on demonstration followed, with Furman students letting each middle-schooler that volunteered hold a sheep brain. A real human brain was also brought out of its container to show to the Frazee students, much to their fascination and delight.

It was not just neuroscience majors who participated in Brain Awareness Week, though. Communication studies major Simone Corpora, ‘17, also brought attention to brain injury awareness through an article she wrote for Greenville Online that argued for a universal helmet law.

In her article, she pointed to a statistic that shows states with universal helmet laws have the lowest percentage of fatalities from motorcycle accidents as an impetus to pass such a law protecting the brains of motorcyclists. Of the 132 motorcycle fatalities in 2015, 83 percent were not wearing a helmet. Currently in South Carolina, only motorcyclists under 20 are required to wear a helmet.

“I think a universal helmet law is a great idea,”  Turgeon said. “I would love it if Furman required students to wear helmets while riding their bicycles as well. Accidents can happen, even just riding around on campus.”

Though Brain Awareness Week has officially ended for 2016, the neuroscience majors, faculty and other interested students will continue to campaign for safe environments that promote healthier brains.

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