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Future Brunels visit Experimental Psychology

2 October 2014

A group of local secondary school pupils selected to participate in the “Future Brunels” program spent a day at the university experiencing various activities in science and engineering. At Experimental Psychology, the theme of their session was “The Brain as a Magician”.

Nina Kazanina and her PhD students Jen Todd Jones and Emily Darley welcomed the Future Brunels to the department with a presentation unlocking some of the hidden magic that our brains constantly perform without our conscious awareness. From auditory and visual illusions to a classic “change blindness” video, the pupils were intrigued and contributed a constant stream of questions. With the help of a set of model brains, they matched up the magic they had witnessed with some of the anatomical areas of the cortex and speculated on the crucial differences between human and other animal brains.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the electroencephalography (EEG) lab, where the Future Brunels quickly volunteered one of their number to be experimented on. With varying levels of trepidation surrounding the gloopiness factor, the others set about injecting conductive gel into his cap full of electrodes in order to achieve good measurements of his brainwaves. The pupils were able to view these live on the computer screen and also learnt about the data processing and statistical steps that would be used in an experiment to figure out more about the magic of the brain.

Nina and her students were impressed by the enthusiasm of the Future Brunels, who left the department tired, buzzing with new knowledge, and more than a little covered in conductive gel. Hopefully the program will be back for more visits to Experimental Psychology in the future.

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