Hi there again everyone. BRAIN@work has not been blogging for about a month now and it’s only because we have had so many things going on at one time, it was hard to find time to just sit down, sit back and focus on what has been happening in June. Today, on the last day of the month, we will try to make up for lost time.
On 13th and 14th June, BRAIN@work participated in a Research University Carnival held at the USM Main Campus in Penang. We set up an interactive exhibition which showcased the contribution that BRAINetwork has made in community-based research.
Currently, BRAINetwork has several participatory and inclusive programmes in schools, pre-schools, rural and urban communities and with the indigenous people of the Belum-Temengor Rainforest. The focus is in changing mindsets, empowerment and the creation of sustainable communities. In the process, BRAINetwork has developed several neurocognitive tools that are able to assess eight neurodevelopmental functions related to academic success, five pathways of neurocognitive wellness and four aspects of community wellness and sustainability. At the RU@USM carnival, we highlighted the various games/ tests that could be used to assess the eight neurodevelopmental functions related to academic success.
The RU carnival @USM was graced by the presence of the Minister of Education II, Dato Seri Idrs Jusoh and also Prof Asma Ismail, the new Director General of Education. Our relationship with Dato Seri Idris Jusoh goes back a long way when he gave us the funds to set up a Mind Centre in Besut, Terengganu. It was nice to meet up with Dato Seri and to highlight the progress we have made since then in terms of community-based research.
The six areas of BRAINetwork Community research are as follows:
1. MIND CENTRES
BRAINetwork carries out sustainable community-based research projects through the BRAINetwork Mind Centres. There are mind centres in Terengganu [ MINDCeT ], Kelantan [Pusat Minda Mesra], Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex and the Gaza Strip, Palestine. These centres are also supported by several organisations such as the Mattel Children’s Foundation, Pulau Banding Foundation and the Terengganu State Government.
2. COMMUNITY-BASED COLLABORATIONS
BRAINetwork collaborates with both national and international partners. National collaborations include the Ministry of Education, National Sports Council, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation and Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli. International collaborations include FAIMER in the United States and Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan.
3. LEARNING INNOVATIONS
BRAINetwork research has been directly translated into innovative teaching-learning programmes at the School of Health Sciences, USM.
Undergraduate courses offered by BRAINetwork are:
1. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory [GEG217/2]
2. Fundamentals of Neurocognitive Science [ GEG316/2]
3. Project IMPACT [ implemented for GTU101 and GTU104 ]
4. THE FIRST MILE PROJECT
The First Mile Project empowers Orang Asal children by providing the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude that enables them to maximise the potential of their own mind. The First Mile Project is highly participatory and to ensure sustainability, the decision making process is shared with the children themselves. All activities occur within a framework of self-directed self-learning processes.
5. THE MOBILE BRAIN UNIT
Since 2011, the Mobile Brain Unit was able to reach out to various communities from across the country, from schools to Universities and communities within the Belum Temengor rainforest. Through the Mobile Brain Unit, BRAINetwork has managed to extend its outreach programme to involve more than 30 000 children. In all cases, the concept is to eventually set up self-sustaining mind centres that are run by the communities.
6. RESEARCH TOOLS
Since 2011, BRAINetwork has either translated and validated or evaluated several research tools for use within the community. These tools enable a comparative study between different groups as they are culture-free, language-independent and can be carried out by non-clinicians including members of the BRAINetwork research communities.