‘What’s going on in his head?’ could be presented at your event.
The talk lasts one hour and is suitable for those aged 14+
What do i need?
There are only very simple requirements to host the talk. No complex rider though if you want to provide huge baskets of fruit, wine and massage services feel free!
1 small table
digital projector via VGA
P.A via 3.5 mm jack plug
A stage allowing access to the audience is preferred
To enquire about bookings and costs get in touch here or call science made simple +44(0) 2920 876 884
What’s going on in his head is being presented at venues across the country during 2013.
13th Feb Benjamin Gooch theatre. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
21st March Oxfordshire science festival 7.30 pm Science Oxford details here
25th March Teviot row debating hall Edinburgh 8.pm Edinburgh International Science Festival details here
29th June Lancashire science festival Foster building lecture theatre 2 university central Lancashire Preston. 2.pm details here
16th July Addenbrookes Clinical school Cambridge Lecture theatre 2 7.30 pm
19th July Cardiff science festival Dempseys, Castle St 7.30 pm details here
10th September British Science Festival Newcastle 3.pm details here
1st, 2nd November. I have been invited to join a team running a simulation of brain surgery at Manchester science festival. Find out more here
Extra chance to see a small part of my head! 8th April I was invited to speak at a session convened by UKABIF UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum at the neuroscience festival at the Barbican London. Details here
Look out for more dates in 2014
At the end of October 2013 I was invited to join a fascinating project at the Manchester Science Festival. The group, led by Professor Roger Kneebone of Imperial College London were presenting a simulation of brain surgery. The story follows the treatment of a patient at the scene of a serious head injury, the results of a CT scan and surgery to remove an extradural Haematoma.
These blood clots are outside the brain and if removed quickly may not cause any secondary injury to the brain. Patients can make a full recovery with some even leaving hospital after only a day.
The surgery is realistic and volunteers are recruited to help remove part of the (model) patient’s skull and scrape out the jelly like blood.
Whilst my injury was not of this type I added a patient perspective, telling my story and looking at the similarities and differences between their fictional and my real case. The emergency treatment at the scene and the reconstructed surgery are performed by real doctors and the attention to detail is immense. Seeing the air ambulance team at work delivering treatment very similar to that which i received was humbling and moving.
I saw how patients are intubated and learnt new word. A ‘bougie’ is the thin flexible wire used to feed the breathing tube into the patient’s wind pipe. Always find it amazing that such complex life-saving techniques are dependent on such simple items.
A more complex device was the drill used to make holes in the skull. A clutch mechanism in the bit means that if pressure on the tip drops it stops turning. This means that once through the skull the drill cuts out and can’t accidently carry on into the brain. Asked how surgeons avoided this with older devices the surgeon replied. “You’re just careful”
Look out for the brain surgery if it pops up near you!
The operating theatre
You can here professor Kneebone talking about the importance of perspective and his surgery projects here
On 6th November I was interviewed on google hangout by Steve Sherman of Living maths. Steve is a maths and science communicator based in Cape town. The event was truly international with viewers in the states taking part in a discussion that spanned the globe. the event was broadcast via you tube and can be seen here
Your brilliant brain
An adult brain weighs about 1.5 Kg has the texture of blancmange and controls everything that you do and think.
This remarkable machine is built of nerve cells (neurons) about 100 billion of them. Neurons have connections at each end. The dendrites on one connect to the long axons on others
What is important is the huge number of connections between these cells. An estimate is 1000000000000000 pathways.
The brain is divided into different parts- The Outer layers make up the cortex. This is divided into left and right hemispheres. The right controls the left side of the body, the left controls the right. The cells which make up the cortex are greyish in colour. The cortex is not smooth and it’s wrinkled surface means it has a very large surface area. Around 2.5m2
Different areas of the cortex are responsible for different functions. Visual processing takes place at the rear of the skull, the side on the left hemisphere is concerned with speech and language, sensory areas and motor systems fill the next region with the frontal lobes responsible for complex planning, social awareness and behaviour. The limbic system below is strongly linked to emotional responses. The function of these areas was determined in the past by examining people with localized brain damage but now sophisticated imaging techniques are used to see areas of activation.
The cells in the centre of the brain have an insulating layer Myelin, around them, and are whitish on colour. The two halves of the brain are joined by the corpus callosum which enables communication between the two halves. At the rear and base of the brain is the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls some motor skills and is the part of the brain we use when we act without consciously planning our actions. For example riding a bike is extremely complicated but once we have learnt we can do it without thinking.
Your brain Is a hugely complex organ and whilst there are broad similarities everyone’s is different. We have learnt different things in different ways at different times forming different connections. Your brain can rewire itself and new areas can take on the functions of damaged parts. Although it can feel no pain it is a delicate thing so look after it!
Required reading is ‘Head Cases’. Written by a brain injury case manager Paul Michael Mason the book tells the stories of a number of brain injury survivors and gives a real insight into the variety of conditions and effects that can be experienced. It also makes me glad to have access to a health care system free a t the point of use!.
You don’t need me to tell you about it, hear the author himself here