This is an historical archive of the activities of the MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit (MRC ANU) that operated at the University of Oxford from 1985 until March 2015. The MRC ANU established a reputation for world-leading research on the brain, for training new generations of scientists, and for engaging the general public in neuroscience. The successes of the MRC ANU are now built upon at the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford.

Unit members engage at the Oxfordshire Science Festival 2015

Unit Programme Leader David Dupret, Investigator Scientist Tim Viney, D.Phil. Students Abhilasha Joshi and Eszter Korman, and Visiting Students Alison Comrie and Minas Salib, all enthusiastically served on the MRC stand at the Oxfordshire Science Festival held in Oxford's Bonn Square on Saturday 7th March 2015. The Unit crew was joined by many other MRC-funded staff and students from MRC Harwell. This year, the Unit team led several interactive displays with a special emphasis on brain plasticity, dementia and memory disorders. A various range of hands-on activities were offered, such as making of brain cells (from pipe cleaners!), observation of Golgi-stained neurons and 3d models of the human brain.

Unit D.Phil student Abhilasha Joshi commented “At the Oxfordshire Science Festival, we had to tailor our activities for an audience encompassing all age groups. We found ourselves in need of some new vocabulary to communicate: 'thorns' for spines and, my favourite, ‘head-box’ for skull. The actvities using the ‘brain plasticity goggles’ were hugely popular. We had some amazing discussions, and surprised many of our visitors with facts like ‘you have billions of nerve cells in your brain’. It was lovely to see many young children diligently making neve cells and  networks. One of them remarked that the brain cells she had made were of different ‘types’ because they had different ‘shapes’ and ‘colours’ – that insight made my day!”.

Abhilasha showing a 3d model of the human brain
Tim and Eszter at the MRC ANU stand
Alison showing a model of the human brain
Never too young to make a discovery! Eszter showing Golgi-stained neurons under the microscope to a little boy
It was a good day to challenge the brain. Abhilasha showing how our brain can adapt to novel situations!
Minas explaining how two neurons liaise together