March 12, 2024 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

For the first time, King’s is participating in Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science.

With funding support from the International Brain Research Organization, King’s Assistant Professors of Psychology Dr. Laura Rosen, Dr. Loretta Norton, and Dr. Kathleen Lyons, King’s Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Marcie Penner, and King’s Psychology students, invite Londoners to discover the wonders of the brain and the impact brain science has on our everyday lives.

The week-long event will feature interactive demonstrations, including building a brain cell key chain, seeing your brain waves in real-time, testing your “drunk vision,” turning off your taste for sour food, and learning evidence-based study tips. 

As faculty within King’s department of Psychology, Drs. Rosen, Penner, Norton and Lyons bring their backgrounds in neuroscience and cognitive science to the classroom. “There is a strong link between neuroscience and psychology,” says Dr. Rosen, whose research is focused on studying individuals’ motives for engaging in substance use and how those motives relate to the risk of developing substance use disorders and addiction.

While psychology is concerned with studying the mind and our behaviour, neuroscience is concerned with studying the nervous system and the biological underpinnings of our mind and behaviour, she explains.

“What our group of faculty within the Psychology department tries to do is to describe the intersection of these two fields,” says Dr. Norton, whose research uses cognitive neuroscience methods like functional neuroimaging and electrophysical recordings (EEG) to better understand brain function and consciousness in individuals with acute brain injury. 

In addition to their individual research, the four teach students about the tools and methods that are unique to cognitive science and neuroscience. “Our students are excited about the work we do, so this year the four of us decided to start a neuroscience student group to give them a hands-on opportunity to get more exposure to the field,” says Dr. Rosen. Those students will share their neuroscience knowledge by running the daily demonstrations during Brain Awareness Week. 

On Tuesday, Dr. Rosen will moderate a panel on addiction in society with panelists Dr. Jesus Chavarria, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at Western and Director of the Research on Addiction & Disparities Laboratory, Linda Sibley, former Executive Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer at Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Thames Valley, and King’s alumni Brandon Vecchiola ‘21, veteran, addiction counsellor, and Manager of Business Development for CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services.  

On Wednesday, Dr. Adrian Owen, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at Western, will present a keynote lecture, Into the Gray Zone: Exploring Cognition at the Margins of Consciousness.

Dr. Owen is world-renowned for his research showing that some coma patients are actually aware, and can communicate with neuroimaging tools. “This is an exciting topic, and Dr. Owen is a wonderful speaker whose lectures are very accessible,” says Dr. Norton.

All Brain Awareness Week events take place in the Darryl J. King Student Life Centre, are free, and are open to all members of the King’s community and the wider community.  “I hope that everyone who comes out will learn a little bit about how the nervous system works, and the importance of brain health and brain research,” Dr. Rosen says.

Neuroscience courses currently offered at King’s Department of Psychology include Introduction to Sensation and Perception and Behavioural Pharmacology, taught by Dr. Rosen, Introduction to Biological Basis of Behaviour, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Neuroscience and Society, taught by Dr. Norton, and Cognitive Development, taught by Dr. Lyons.