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Medical News & Perspectives
October 3, 2001

Brain Exhibit Starts 6-Year US Journey

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JAMA. 2001;286(13):1565-1566. doi:10.1001/jama.286.13.1565-JMN1003-2-1

Washington—Press a lever, and a red ball clatters through a pink and purple axon tunnel. It bursts into a gap that models a synapse, setting off a popcornlike eruption of sparkling pellets to illustrate the process of nerve signal transmission.

This is "Synapse Pop!" one of 22 interactive displays that make up Brain: The World Inside Your Head, an exhibit on view at the Smithsonian Institution's Arts and Industries Building here through January 2, 2002. Self-tests, videos, and games, with bright colors, flashing lights, and pings and whirrs engage school-aged children as well as adults. The exhibit aims to raise awareness of how the healthy brain and central nervous system convey and process information about the external world, and how more than 600 mental and neurological disorders and substance abuse may disrupt their functions.