Stepping up Brain Awareness

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Participants at the STEP-NUS Sunburst Brain Camp 2015 in a Team Building Activity at Gardens by the Bay

From 21 to 27 June 2015, 170 youth from Japan, China, South Korea, India, Singapore and other ASEAN countries convened in the Lion City for the 4th annual STEP-NUS Sunburst Brain Camp. Organised by the Singapore Technologies Endowment Programme (STEP), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and hosted at both The Regional Language Centre (RELC) and NUS, the camp gave these youth the opportunity to intermingle with like-minded peers as well as speakers and professors from leading research institutions around the world.
Through interactive talks and hands-on workshops focused on the brain, ageing and neuroscience in general, students aged 14 to 19 were exposed to current research methods, visited laboratories and conducted experiments to deepen their understanding of ways to maintain optimal brain function and health.

The programme is designed to encourage youth to take up careers in neuroscience and to serve as a platform for local Singaporean students to establish friendships with students from the region. Each year the camp participants, who are selected from top schools in Singapore and abroad also receive a ‘Sunburst Brain Book’. The Brain book is written by the students from NUS High, JCs and Polytechnics under the mentorship of academic experts from the NUS, Duke-NUS, Yale-NUS, NTU and other research institutes. The Brain Book 4, which was released as part of the 4th running of the STEP-NUS Sunburst Brain Camp in 2015, is themed around “The Past and Future Brain” and looks at the pioneers of neuroscience in deliberate tandem with the excitement of modern neuroscience.

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About the importance of sleep for the brain

Sleep is important for memory. Active processing of information acquired in the day, involving selective storage of relevant memories, reformulation of ideas and pruning of irrelevant information occur during sleep. These enable us to retain learning and be creative. Brain cellular waste is cleared when we sleep. As such, chronic sleep restriction may put one at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, cautioned Prof. Michael Chee from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. He urged participants at the STEP-NUS Sunburst Brain Camp to rethink their priorities and to get more sleep.

Watch the camp highlights

Did you know…

New studies have shown that older adults who reduce calories fare better in memory tests. The results offer the first evidence that calorie restriction could prevent age-related mental decline in humans. Furthermore, according to Assoc Prof Thiruma Arumugam from NUS, who spoke at the STEP-NUS Sunburst Brain Camp, “Calorie restriction, a healthy diet and intermittent fasting has been proven to slow down brain ageing.”