NIH Pavilion Scientific Themes

Select a title to view activities for each theme.

The Brain

Take a journey into one of the most complex and fascinating organs in the human body that baffles even the most renowned scientists - the brain.


Brain Demonstrations (NIMH)

  1. Brain Signals
    The demonstration involves the use of brain signals (recorded from a wireless electroencephalography headset) to control the movement of magnetic fluid. The magnetic fluid will be sitting in a countertop container. There will be electromagnets counted under the container to generate the magnetic fields. The electromagnets are in turn controlled by the recorded brain signals.
  2. Phantom Limb
    Participants will be amazed at how their brain can be fooled through this two-part demonstration that explores the phenomenon of phantom limb pain. In this hands-on activity, NIH scientists will trick participants into thinking that a rubber hand is actually part of their own body while educating them on phantom limbs. The second part of the activity will demonstrate how a similar brain and cognitive manipulation ("mirror therapy") can reduce phantom limb pain in amputees.

Communication Exploration (NIDCD)

  1. Communication Exploration
    Do you know how sound travels from your ear to your brain, how loud sounds can damage your hearing, and how to protect your ears? What does sound look like when you speak or sing? Why is it hard to stand on one foot with your eyes closed? Are you among the 25 percent of people who cannot taste a class of bitter substances? Answer these questions and more with hands-on activities to learn about voice, speech, language, and how your senses of hearing and balance and of taste and smell work together. You'll also learn how hearing aids work and test how loud the convention hall really is!

Curiosity Box; The BRAIN Initiative; The Lobe-oratorium® (NINDS)

  1. Curiosity Box- Exploring Our Senses Through Tactile Experiences
    The curiosity box will allow for a tactile experience where kids feel objects hidden within pockets a black box to identify the object based on different shapes, textures, and temperatures. They will consider how our 5 senses help use navigate the world around us and how our brain uses information (like touch) to solve problems. For example, to represent hot, cold, rough, smooth, items such as hot hands, activated ice pack, sandpaper, or a smooth stone will be hidden in the boxes for kids to touch.
  2. The BRAIN Initiative at NIH - From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures
    This interactive display will take users on a journey into the brain, where they learn about the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative – an exciting effort aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the brain. Users will be able to select different parts of the brain to reveal different topics scientists are exploring. As they engage in this digital, interactive display, they will dive deep into the brain – from the surface down to the level of the cell - learning about new discoveries and novel technologies that provide unprecedented opportunities for exploring exactly how the brain enables the human body to record, process, utilize, store, and retrieve vast quantities of information, all at the speed of thought.
  3. The Lobe-oratorium®
    How are you reading this? Your brain’s occipital lobe processes the things you see, while your frontal lobe helps you understand the information. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) team put their brains together to create an exhibit called the Lobe-oratorium®, which educates people of all ages about the functions of the four main lobes of the brain in a fun and interactive way. The panel exhibit features iPads with a Q&A-style quiz where participants can test their knowledge about the brain lobes and their functions, as well as a colorful, engaging backdrop to draw in conference attendees.

Drink Equivalency Demonstration; Test Your Aim (NIAAA)

  1. Drink Equivalency Demonstration
    Many people are surprised to learn what counts as a drink. In the United States, one "standard" drink (or one alcoholic drink equivalent) contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol. However, the amount of liquid in a glass, can, or bottle does not necessarily match up to how much alcohol is actually in a drink, because different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content. To promote understanding of what constitutes a “standard drink” of alcohol, NIAAA will present a drink equivalency demonstration using water and common drinking glasses and containers.
  2. Test Your Aim
    To promote youth understanding of the effects of alcohol on coordination and the dangers associated with these effects (e.g., accidents while driving under the influence, etc.) NIAAA will present Test Your Aim. In this activity, young people will have the chance to play a ball-toss game while wearing “fatal vision goggles.” These glasses distort the vision of the wearer to mimic the effects of alcohol on motor skills. This helps drive home the message that, even though adolescents may not feel alcohol’s effects as immediately as older individuals do, they ARE being affected and must be alert to the dangers of alcohol for their age group.

Drugs and Your Brain (NIDA)

  1. Drugs and Your Brain
    Join us for hands-on demonstrations that will reveal the impact of drugs on the brain!  Learn how the structure of a drug affects how it interacts with the biology of your brain and how substance use can lead to addiction.  Test your understanding of how the brain controls the body and learn how society can respond to problems that arise from drug use.  Come test your knowledge by playing fun games and taking challenging quizzes!

Harnessing the Power of the Mind (OBSSR)

  1. Harnessing the Power of the Mind
    Train your brain to control automatic body functions! You may think that you have no conscious control over some of the things your body does, like your heart beating and how you breathe, but that may not be entirely true. These hands-on activities will show you that some parts of your health may, in fact, be mind over matter.

Making BrainWaves: Explore your Brain Activity (SEPA)

  1. Making BrainWaves: Explore your Brain Activity
    Measure your brainwaves with a portable EEG (electroencephalogram). You will be able to see your brain activity on a computer screen and explore how to control objects with the power of your mind!  Take a virtual tour through the human brain and investigate how the brain interacts with our senses.

“See What I See” (NEI)

  1. “See What I See” Virtual Reality Experience About Vision Health
    Millions of people are affected by eye diseases. But describing vision loss is difficult. NEI’s virtual reality (VR) experience enables you to explore life with vision loss from common eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. This is a fully-immersive experience with Oculus Quest goggles.