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The Coventry Elephantastic

Elephants are believed to have very long memories, but have you ever wondered how they, and we, make and store memories? This was a question Professor Bruno Frenguelli and Professor Kevin Moffat from Warwick's School of Life Sciences wanted to help answer as part of the hugely popular Elephantastic event that ran as part of Earlsdon Festival earlier this year.

Held at the Earlsdon Library, Elephantastic is a community drawing event which gets people together for discussion and drawing elephants. A truely Elephantastic goal! Take a look at the video below to see some of the fantastic creations that came out of this latest event which ran as part of the Earlsdon Festival.

Bruno's research interests are focused on the brain and its enormous capacity to learn and remember. This topic has been the subject of a great deal of research that has led to a better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying these processes. Bruno is interested in how experience influences our cognitive abilities and how conditions such as stroke and epilepsy affect brain function.

At Elephantastic Bruno and Kevin got involved by running an exhibition of brain models and microscopes showing brain cells in great detail. They used these to create a dialogue with children and families about the brain, learning and memory, and brain disorders that had affected their families and friends. This proved to be a fantastic outreach opportunity, with over 1,000 visitors to library and the exhibits, and reaching members of the community who would not normally have access to experts in brain research.

"As scientists, many of us often consider that our favourite subject area should be a source of public fascination. But often we are wrapped up in our own little area and are unaware how to inform the public – or indeed even that they might want to know! In reality it’s more than just wanting the public to hear things we think they should know – it’s more, I would judge, first about building trust; if they can see the beauty in our science and our enthusiasm for the subject, we may earn the right to inform them of something useful, interesting and perhaps that the science is worthwhile.

"Working with Mary Courtney on the Elephantastic project has been a breath of fresh air……We’ve been able to take the work of the neuroscience group out to the local community and moreover for us, been able to think of our own projects in the context of both humans and now elephants!"

Kevin Moffat