Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mad Scientist Explores MY Brain!

Last year, on a brilliantly sweaty summer day, I biked over to the Rotman Research Institute on Toronto's Bathurst Street. Not only is the Rotman Institute across the street from some of the best bagels in the city, but it is also home to cutting edge research in neuroscience and gerontology. My mission? A) to snag some great bagels and B) to volunteer as a study subject for some of their ongoing research projects.

I'm proud to say I have participated in two studies so far, and expect to volunteer again when my brain fits the criteria for another experiment.

Not everyone is keen to offer their noggins to science, mostly because its rough on the hair. For the EEG to work, you need to wear a cap that's filled with electroconductive gel. Also, if you work a regular day job, it's difficult to match your schedule with that of the labs'. But I'm not vain about my hair, and I can bugger off whenever I want to (or when deadlines allow). So for me, volunteering my brain is an easy to way contribute in a practical and necessary way to furthering the cause of science.

The importance of research studies conducted at the Rotman was driven home to me last night. I attended a panel discussion on the subject of women's brain health and Alzheimers that was sponsored by the Women of Baycrest. Dr. Jean Marmoreo and neuroscientist Dr. Tiffany Chow presented some of the latest research, and discussed strategies for reducing your risk for dementia.

You can watch the video of the panel discussion here.

The latest research can only happen if people are willing to volunteer for studies. Some are easy - you might only have to answer a questionaire. Others may take a few hours of your time. But I can tell you this for true - it's fun!

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