Integrative neuroscience PhD candidate Brianna Gonzalez spent three weeks in Ghana demystifying the mind for varsity youngsters and members of the general public, and bringing collectively scientists and conventional healers.
Gonzalez’s work is a component of a bigger undertaking funded by a Dana Basis Planning Grant for a Dana Heart for Neuroscience and Society for World Mind Well being and led by Turhan Canli, a professor of integrative neuroscience within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Division of Psychology and Gonzalez’s doctoral advisor.
The funds gave Gonzalez the prospect to work with researchers on the College of Ghana in Accra, contribute to her subject and see a special a part of the world. It additionally grew to become her capstone undertaking for her superior graduate certificates in science communication, a program out there solely to Stony Brook graduate college students.
“Having the chance to mix my pursuits in neuroscience and science communication in addition to pave the way in which for future college students to have related experiences was so thrilling,” stated Gonzalez. “We’ve now established connections in Ghana the place Stony Brook college students can hone their neuroscience-teaching and science communication expertise, and be part of a two-way culturally delicate interplay between the overall inhabitants and neuroscientists the place every group can train and inform the opposite.”
In Ghana, neuroscience is taught as a part of different applications like pharmacy, biology and physiology. When locals search remedy for neurological issues like epilepsy and schizophrenia, they typically flip to conventional healers who use herbs and vegetation as medication. Their strategies typically work, although they haven’t undergone formal medical trials and should not FDA permitted.
One in all Gonzalez’s initiatives was to construct on earlier work to carry collectively a few of these conventional healers and educational researchers on the College of Ghana. The undertaking’s objective is to reinforce belief and maybe broaden collaborations between the 2 teams, whose exchanges have often been fraught due to lack of mutual understanding. Gonzalez helped lead a dialog with the healers to know the dearth of belief on their facet and what would possibly assist heal the relationships.
“My objective was to evaluate the extent of belief between the healers and the scientists, and the communication between the 2,” Gonzalez stated. “It was vital for me to strive to determine these tales behind what occurred previously to burn the bridges, however then additionally ask them what might be performed to assist mend this belief and enhance it for the longer term. We hope to have the ability to assist extra of those engagements between educational scientists and conventional healers.”
Past bringing collectively consultants, Gonzalez labored to share a few of her data and, extra importantly, to get others within the mind and neuroscience.
“I actually loved placing my analysis and science communication coaching to the check — midway internationally,” she stated. “Along with my work there, I had time to discover the nation, strive the native dishes and meet an unbelievable group of people that made my expertise one of the best it may have been.”
She led a couple of experiential video games with schoolchildren through the Ghana Mind Bee — a contest very similar to a spelling bee the place native winners advance to additional rounds of competitors. Gonzalez led a “reality or delusion” recreation in regards to the mind and an experiment to assist college students discover their blind spots. Each actions had been intentionally easy and immersive so the scholars may share their data, and the experiment, with others.
She additionally was a visitor on a 30-minute science present on an area radio station, the place she answered questions stay and mentioned the sphere of neuroscience in phrases the radio’s common viewers may perceive and interact with.
“To me, science communication is bringing science to any and each viewers, whereas delivering the message in a approach that’s comprehensible, relatable and accessible to all,” Gonzalez stated. “As a scientist and lifelong learner, I’ve discovered myself listening to hour-long talks filled with jargon that I can’t comply with. I depart feeling discouraged and wishing extra lecturers had been skilled in science communication. Science advantages everybody, and everybody ought to have a proper to the data scientists have constructed and proceed to construct upon.”