Western’s behavioral neuroscience department invites the Bellingham community to learn and discuss several topics of neuroscience, while also being able to relax and enjoy a drink at “Neuroscience on Tap: Bring Your Own Brain.”

“Neuroscience on Tap,” which is held at restaurants and bars such as GLOW and the Copper Hog, is intended to reach out and educate the community on the brain, said Western behavioral neuroscience program coordinator Coco Besson.

“It has been very successful. The last couple of times we’ve met at club GLOW and had 65 to 75 people attend,” Besson said.

The next “Neuroscience on Tap: Bring Your Own Brain” will be hosted by Dr. David Goldman, of the Cascade Brain and Spine Center, from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 2, at GLOW. The discussion is titled, “The Pains and Disabilities of Spinal Cord Compression and the Surgical Treatment.”

The faculty or community member leading the discussion chooses the topic of discussion for each event. The events are free and prior knowledge on the topic of the event or neuroscience in general is not needed to join, Besson said.

During the discussion, those in attendance are free to ask questions, although the discussion is not intended to be an open forum.

Jeff Carroll, Western visiting professor of psychology, has noticed that the community is gaining interest in the discussions and learning a great deal, he said.

“I see a lot of the same faces now,” Carroll said. “It used to be they would ask [simple] questions, but now they are asking very good questions.” 

While bars and pubs may not seem to be a likely destination for a lesson on neuroscience, the event has been and will continue to be held in bar and pub-type locations as they help community members attending to relax, Carroll said.

“It keeps the environment casual,” Carroll said. “The bar is open and we want to make the event [less] intimidating as it can be and having it at pubs seem to be the best model.”

Besson agrees and said she feels the environments they choose help those in attendance feel comfortable in an informal setting.

“We wanted it to be a place where people can go and have a drink and enjoy some casual conversation and learn during the process,” Besson said. “We choose these places so people can sit back and relax and enjoy themselves.”

Previous events have included, “Using a Hammer Really Does Make Everything Look Like a Nail:  A Discussion of the Shared Brain Mechanisms of Action and Perception” and “The Surprising Ability of the Brain to Cope: Lessons from Neurodegeneration.”

Besson assures Western and Bellingham community members who haven’t attended “Neuroscience on Tap” that the discussion is free from being too intellectual and structured.

“Jeff Carroll had someone hold a bell and every time he got too scientific, he had the person ring the bell to make sure he’s speaking at a level people understand,” Besson said. “It’s very fun, very informal and usually the person hosting for the evening will be someone from the faculty or the community.”