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Cambridge Science Festival at PDN

Every year our Department brings exciting talks and hands-on exhibits to the Cambridge Science Festival - come visit us, meet our scientists, discover what we do on Saturday 17 March 2018 at the Downing Site

Is seeing believing?

It is often said that “seeing is believing” and an important strategy used by the visual system is to look for differences in brightness, colour and movement in the external world. Dr Hugh Matthews investigates how and why the visual system does this, and how it can be tricked to produce visual illusions.

Sat 17 March, 11am-12am, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Sensory perception in autism: from the clinic to the laboratory

Many people with autism experience increased or decreased sensitivity to sights, sounds, touch, smell and taste. This can contribute to specialized interests in some while creating distraction or distress in others. This lecture will provide an overview of how altered sensation affects the lives of people with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders and current research on how changes in the communication between brain cells in the areas of the brain that interpret senses may lead affect sensory perception in autism.

Sat 17 March, 12:45am-1:45pm, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Building life from stem cells to understand it

What do we know about the beginnings of human life? Dr Marta Shahbazi, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, talks about the remarkable properties of embryos and the new techniques developed to study their early stages.

Sat 17 March, 2pm-3pm, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Vision in nature: performance and sensitivity

This panel discussion will include experts on insect vision, on the photoreceptors of the retina, and on animal vision. Hugh Matthews, Elisa Galliano (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience) and Simon Laughlin (Department of Zoology) will consider the limits to visual performance in both human and animal vision, and how these might vary according to each species' environment.

Sat 17 March, 3:15pm-4:15pm, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Life Sciences Marquee

Come meet researchers from PDN and discover the personal side of science!

  • Electroreception: a sixth sense
    How do fishes use electroreception as an additional sense, and how does this system develop? With the Baker Lab.
  • How does the shape of a body develop from a ball of cells?
    Come and look at fluorescent flies under the microscope, watch movies of them, and give us some help with our computer analysis… all whilst you learn about the things your cells did before you were born to help make you who you are (or at least what you look like!). With the Sanson Lab.
  • Neurons feel the force
    How do brain cells explore their environment? It turns out they use simple physics! Come and play our interactive computer game and feel some realistic model tissues, and find out more about how cells use tissue mechanics to guide their growth and motion! With the Franze Lab.
  • Olfactory cocktail party
    Would you be able to recognise your partner’s perfume in a crowded, dark room? How accurate is your sense of smell compared to the average person? How would you fare against a mouse instead? Come to our Olfactory Cocktail Party stand and test yourself! With the Matthews Lab.
  • Understanding your body
    Using a giant version of the 'operation game' people can explore the amazing anatomy of the human body and understand the secret language of the terminology used. There will also be a 'brain hat' that people can make to enable them to learn about the different lobes of the brain and which activities are co-ordinated by the individual areas. Some of the popular activities from last year will also return including anatomical face painting and bone identification.
  • The many functions of the placenta
    Do you know how babies get the nutrients needed for growth during pregnancy? Did you know that the baby makes a very special organ called the placenta that provides everything needed for a baby to grow during the 9 months of pregnancy? Discover all the amazing things the placenta does, and find out why problems with the placenta not only affect the health of mum and baby during pregnancy, but can affect health throughout life! With the Centre for Trophoblast Research.
  • Proprioception: how your muscles sense themselves
    How is your brain able to determine the position of your limbs, even when your eyes are closed? Can we trick the perception of your own body by vibrating your muscles? Come learn about proprioception, one of the many "hidden senses" in the human species. With the Matthews Lab.

Sat 17 March, all day, Marquee on the lawn, Downing Site, Hands on, Drop-in free event