Sixth-form students from across Sunderland have taken part in a unique challenge in which they got to see the world upside down, experience the sensation of having three arms and even stick electrodes on their friends’ heads.

The sixth-formers were taking part in an open day at the University of Sunderland as part of Brain Awareness Week.

The aim of the event was to teach the students about the different parts of the brain and how they function. 

Dr Amy Pearson, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland, said, “Students got to record brain activity and experienced how they might view things if they had damage to the visual cortex in the brain, so that the world appears upside down. 

“They also experienced what it might be like to gain an extra limb using an illusion known as the rubber hand illusion. It was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it.”

Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign which seeks to educate the public on advances in, and the advantages of, brain research.

Dr Helen Knight, who also lectures in psychology at Sunderland, said, “Students were able to measure the brain’s electrical activity as it happens, providing an appreciation of how complex the human brain is, but in an accessible way.”

“They even got the chance to stick electrodes to their friends – or a lecturer’s – head.”

Senior lecturer in psychology Dr Jon Rees said, “The students really enjoyed the Brain Awareness Week activities – and we enjoyed having them too.”

Pupils from a number of local schools – including Thornhill School in Sunderland and Kepier School in Houghton-le-Spring – also visited the University of Sunderland recently to take part in Science and Technology Challenge Day.

Michaela Robinson, a teacher at Kepier School, said, “They absolutely loved it. They got the chance to take part in all different types of experiments and tasks.”

“On the task where they had to programme a robot, one of our girls just picked it up and did it straight away, without the need for any instructions.”

The aim of Science and Technology Challenge Day was to encourage interest in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – among the pupils.

(Featured image courtesy of amenclinicsphotos ac, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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