Hands-on science for Ellon Academy pupils

Hands-on science for Ellon Academy pupils

Most people think that a memory is like a video recording of events from our past, that looking and seeing are the same thing and that the arms and legs attached to our body belong to us.

However, after a recent visit to the Self Lab run by Dr David Turk in the School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen, S5 pupils from Ellon Academy learned that such assumptions are way off the mark.

Via a series of hands-on demonstrations they discovered that we can claim to remember things that we have not actually encountered and that we fail to see things that we are looking at. 

But in perhaps the most bizarre delusion of the event, pupils discovered that our brain can be fooled into thinking our bodies are attached to a fake arm, or even someone else's arm and how people can claim to feel pain from amputated limbs. 

This shows us that the very essence of who we are from our memories to ownership of body parts is created and maintained in our brain.

Dr Turk and his team are currently supported by a research grant from the European Research Council to explore how the brain creates this sense of self.

Helen O'Brien, the teacher responsible for S5 induction at Ellon Academy, told Dr Turk afterwards that following the visit many of the pupils attending the session had expressed an interest in studying Psychology at the Academy.

Further information on the research undertaken by the Self Lab can be found on their web page along with information of how volunteers can take part in experiments. There are also details of outreach activities provided by Dr Turk for school children from five to 16.