BRAINetwork’s Pusat Minda Mesra prepares for it’s second year

Last week, students participating in the Fundamentals of Neurocognitive Science elective, visited two Orang Asal communities. Before the visit, the students were tasked with a course assignment from Prof Zalina Ismail, to replicate and enhance the current Curriculum-In-A-Box, which is used in BRAINetwork’s Pusat Minda Mesra in the indigenous village of RPS Air Banun. The students worked hard over the past few weeks on the new boxes which will replace the previous boxesDSC_9265 that have been used by the local indigenous teachers over the course of the last school year. The students put in long hours coming up with creative enhancements and new material for the curriculum. The students presented their efforts to Prof Zalina and their fellow classmates last Monday.

On the 12th of December, the students travelled to R.P.S. Air Banun to deliver the new Curriculum-In-A-Box to the Pusat Minda Mesra teachers. It was the first time for the students to visit the village and a great experience for them to see where their work over the past few weeks would be used, to see it’s practical application within a community setting.

DSC_9993Next the students boarded a boat for Kampung Chuweh, the students travelled for 30 minutes taking in the scenic views of the Belum-Temenggor Forest Complex on route. Upon arriving, the students went to meet Gomba, the head of village,  who was sitting at the village’s small crafts shop. The students chatted with the headman and the other villagers present as they learnt about the Orang Asal’s way of life. A number of the students purchased small gifts/souvenirs from the village’s handicraft shop.

The students then began engaging in some activities and games that they prepared for the children of the community. The students and children done some colouring together, before the students taught the children some ball games which they played together.DSC_0161

Next it was the turn of the Orang Asal to teach the students, with the women of the village teaching some handicraft skills to the visiting students. The villagers had sourced some duan nipah nearby which they used to demonstrate their weaving skills, as the students and Orang Asal made hand-woven crowns together.


Gee Bunga Raya, one of the students who visited Chuweh, said that “I really enjoyed the experience, I had no idea what the Orang Asli villages would be like, people in Malaysia need to be more aware of the Orang Asli”. Thank you, to Gee and her classmates for their efforts in their elective, and also to our Irish friends, Katie and Liam, who joined us on our visit to R.P.S. Air Banun and Chuweh.

Ayu and Hazirah, modeling their new hand-made crowns.




Phase Three of the TUT-USM Summer School Program

The group continued their summer school journey as they arrived in Penang for Phase Three of the TUT-USM Summer School program. The Summer School participants arrived in the recently established TUT-USM Technology Collaboration Centre for lunch. The TUT-USM Technology Collaboration Centre is where the students would meet for the next week.

Presenting the results of the Community Sustainability Assessment

The third phase of the Summer School program began with the students reviewing and analyzing the data they collected with the Community Sustainability Assessment tool. The students listed the most problematic areas of the villages they visited to identify the needs of each community. Subsequently, the students proceeded to prioritize the needs which required the most immediate action. The students then shared their results with each other, with each pair producing a powerpoint presentation of their results.

The following day, the pairs compiled a list of the varying problems that each community faces, each pair then selected a community need that they would attempt to address. The area that they selected was a combination of being a need of high priority and also a need that fitted with each pair’s background and skillset.

Over the subsequent days the pairs worked on their ideas and project proposals. This is what they came up with.

A rotatable bamboo solar panel system, by Rahim and Naoki

USM’s Rahim Kamaluddin and his TUT Naoki Kanazawa partner proposed modifying the current solar panel system which a number of the indigenous villages have access it. The pair believe the current solar panels are not being fully utilized, they proposed creating a rotatable bamboo solar panel system, by which the panel could be angled to face the sun at all times of the day to improve absorption of the sun and thus increase the solar energy available to the Orang Asal.

TUT’s Tomoka Tanishita and her USM partner, Siti Noorkhairina Sowtali’s, project proposal focused on improving the ventilation and reducing the heat experienced in the modern houses located in the indigenous village of Teban Bharu.

Tomoka’s model house


The twosome of, TUT’s Kazuki Nakamura and USM’s Damitri Qumat, proposed a sustainable bamboo water filtering system that would improve both the quality of and access to clean water for the indigenous people.

They weren’t the only pair to focus on the issue of improving the access and quality of water supply to the Orang Asal. USM’s, Zulhusni Suhaimi, and his TUT partner, Ryosuke Kupi Horio, proposed introducing a water supply system which they believe is easy to maintain. Their proposal had a second component as Zulhusni wisely, and now famously, said “technology is useless without maintenance”, the pair also proposed plumbing maintenance education to empower to the Orang Asal with the knowledge to keep the water supply system functioning.

“Technology is useless without maintenance”

DSC_4235TUT’s Hiroshi Seki teamed up with his USM’s Shazwan Bin Mohd Din. Their project proposal entitled “Get the Wave”, entails improving telecommunication signal and establishing a Local Area Network in the indigenous villages. The First Mile Project recently installed computers in Air Banun so this proposal might go some way towards helping BRAINetwork and the Orang Asal achieve their goal of a fully functioning cybercafé in the rainforest.

Like Hiroshi, Hideki Tamura, of TUT’s Master Course of Computer Science and Engineering, also choose to direct his project towards the use of computers. Hideki and his USM partner Ridhuwan bin Che Musa, proposed creating an interactive educational app to tackle illiteracy, which they named “Rideki”.


The seventh pair, USM’s ChDSC_3415ing Ching Chang and TUT’s Yoko Hasegawa’s, proposal addresses the Orang Asal’s health and socio-economic status with the creation of a medicinal herb and plant farm.

The students worked hard to finalize their proposals in order to present them in TUT-USM Penang on the 18th of September. Prof. Zalina Ismail and Assoc. Prof. Dr Wan Aasim Wan Adnan of USM provided feedback on the student’s proposal presentations.

The following day the students gathered together to work on the Summer School’s student forum and closing ceremony, both of which would take place the following day. It was a long but enjoyable day of preparations.

The 20th of September, the final day of the Summer School program, kicked off with student forum. Its purpose was to reflect on the program we had just undertaken over the past two weeks and to assess where the Summer School could go from here. Hideki, in his Baju Melayu (Malay shirt), assumed the role of MC for the forum, and he started with a brief introduction of the forum before inviting Zulhusni, the student forum moderator, to join him. Zulhusni was then joined by the other forum participants, Naoki, Sith Rini, Kupi and Rahim. Zulhusni quizzed the participants on various aspects of the Summer School program and also invited questions from those in attendance at the forum. The student forum provided some interesting insights and feedback of how the summer school was experienced by its participants, which can hopefully be used to improve the program for next year. After the forum, it was then time for the closing ceremony.

Student forum

DSC_4008The closing ceremony of the TUT-USM Summer School 2014 was opened by co-MC’s, Sith Rini and Ryosuke Kupi Horio. They welcomed our esteemed guests, Prof. Dr. Mitsuteru Inoue, Executive Trustee, Vice President, Education Affairs at Toyohashi University of Technology and Prof Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Shukri Mustapa Kamal, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic & International Affairs, Universiti Sains Malaysia. We were also joined by Prof. Nakauchi, although he was not physically present in Penang at the time, he was our online onlooker, viewing the closing ceremony via a video streaming application from his office in Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan.

Next our guests learned what our summer school program was all about, courtesy of Yoko and Damitri’s presentations and speeches. Naoki then presented a multimedia production depicting the group’s Summer School journey from arriving in Kota Bharu, to their data collection in the rainforest, to their project proposals in Penang.

Prof. Dr. Mitsuteru Inoue was then asked say a few works, he spoke of ……


Kupi then invited Prof Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Shukri Mustapa Kamal to provide a speech, he discussed the sustainability of the programme. According to Prof. Ahmad Shukri, USM was very pleased with the success of this first ever Summer School Programme and he was especially pleased with the various projects that were to be carried out. He wantyed to see sustaionability and a positive change take place over the next five years.


DSC_3975The Summer School participants then sang the Japanesse song, “ My Country Home”, in unison, before producing a Dikir Barat performance, which Zulhusni sang over with lyrics the group wrote together. The students were then presented with certificates for participating in this inaugural Summer School program before tea and snacks were served to the guests in attendance.


The link below portrays Phase 3 of our School Program, from data analysis right through to the project proposal presentations and closing ceremony. It wasn’t all work and no play with the group enjoying some free time, exploring Georgetown’s famous street art, the lofty heights of Penang Hill and as well as some exercise maneuvering our way through Penang’s Escape Theme Park.


My Summer School Journey: Rahim Munna

The following piece was written by Rahim Munna, a proud participant of our recent TUT-USM Global Summer School Programme. Rahim is a PhD candidate, author and specialist in Criminology. Rahim provides us with an insight into the summer school programme from a student’s perspective, here are his thoughts of the programme, up to the climax of phase one of the programme:

Hello friends, I would like to share one of my wonderful chapter in my university life.

Two months ago, several postgraduate students and I joined the TUT-USM Global Summer School Programme (GSSP). I got this offer from one of my friend. I was too excited when I hear “Rahim, are you interested to join a collaborative project with engineering students from a Japanese university?” Without hesitating, I agreed to be the part of this programme although I was unsure of my contribution to this programme.

A day after, all of the participants of the GSSP were called for a meeting with Professor Zalina Ismail (a lady who keeps inspiring me since undergraduate studying period) at BRAINetwork. During the meeting, Professor Zalina described the mission and vision of this programme. The ultimate concern of this GSSP was to improve the lifestyles of indigenous people in Banding Island through contribution via academic bridging with USM and TUT students. Although I was uncertain of my contribution in actualizing the aim of this project but I took this opportunity as a platform to involve myself with this project. Eventually, all of us agreed to join this noble project as it will be a great exposure for all of us. A series of meeting were held with Professor Zalina for brainstorming and discussion purposes. Meanwhile, we also created an account in Facebook in order to communicate with TUT students before the programme commenced.

This GSSP seemed to be the first project of this kind to be conducted by these two prestigious universities .We were understood that GSSP was carried out by Univeristi Sains Malaysia (USM) with a collaboration of Toyohashi University of Technology (TUT) for the period of two weeks (7/9/2014 – 21/9/2014).

This entire GSSP was co-organised by the Centre for International Education on behalf of TUT while BRAINetwork Centre for Neurocognitive Sciences [BRAINetwork], School of Health Sciences, on behalf of USM. Basically, this programme consisted of three phases: Pre Summer, Summer and Post Summer School. The involvements of the students are mainly in Summer School Phase, hence, this programme was named as Global Summer School Programme.

This GSSP (Summer School Phase) is further divided into three phases: Ice breaking phase (USM-Kubang Kerian), Data collection/assessment phase (Banding Island) and lastly data interpretation/proposal phase (USM-Main Campus). Basically, seven postgraduate students from TUT were paired with seven postgraduate students from USM. The pairs were required to collect the data at various villages of Indigenous community. At the third phase of this GSSP, each pair required to come up with a project that may implemented in the village which expected to improve and contribute to the development of the indigenous people in Banding Island bioregion.

Rahim and Naoki
Rahim and Naoki, hitting it off from the start!


7th September 2014, the time for the Summer School was upon us, we picked up our Japanese friends from the Pengakalan Chepa Airport, Kelantan. We brought them to HolidayVilla Hotel which was located half an hour from the airport. As soon they reached the hotel, the Japanese students shook hand with us with “Apa Khabar?”. All of us astonished with their efforts and it was so sweet of them to learn some of our basic daily dialogues. Besides that, we USM students also took some initiative to learn some basic Japanese phrases such as “Konichiwa” and “Ohayo Kozaimas”. I think they were amazed as well. This definitely proved to us that language and culture is no barrier if you really want to get close with someone who is not from the same background as yours.We had our dinner at Hotel HolidayVilla with our new Japanese friends and we got to know each other more.

Another important event that carried out in this first phase was the TUT-USM cultural night. The whole night filled up with multiethnic performances as Malaysia is rich with potpourri of cultures. It was an honor for me to perform an Indian folk dance together with my co-dancers Parimalah and Tinageshwari. Tinageshwari choreographed the Indian dance and we took almost two weeks to practice the entire dance. Besides that, my friend Zulhusni together with his friends, performed few Nasyid songs (Islamic songs) and a lion dance was also performed and that was one of the highlight on the night. Interestingly, the Japanese students also came up with few culture sharing activity; it was calligraphy. They demonstrated and taught us how to write Japanese calligraphy. In fact, they wrote our names in Japanese and gave them to us as a souvenir. Although everyone was tired with the cultural night, we still able to put some smiles and snapped lots of pictures with our Japanese friends. It was a fantabulous day for all of us.

Rahim, Parimalah and Tinageshwari’s energetic performance in action!


You can read more about phase one of the Summer School programme here

More on Rahim’s thoughts on the summer school programme as phase two brought him to the Belum-Temenggor Forest Reserve to perform the Community Sustainability Assessment, before going to Penang in phase three, to work with his partner Naoki, to come up with a sustainable solution that would meet one of the needs of the Orang Asal communities that they just visited .

Brain@work ARCHERS

logoBA (2)Welcome to the BRAINetwork Archery Club

The BRAINetwork Archery Club [ Brain@work ARCHERS is organised by the BRAINetwork Centre for Neurocognitive Science, School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. As a research group, we are interested in understanding the human mind in relation to neurocognitive abilities such as thinking, learning, memory and mental strength. This club is for volunteers who are willing to have their neurocognitive abilities profiled while they learn the basics of archery.

Brain@work ARCHERS would like to recruit novice archers who are interested in three things:

1. Having lots of FUN and Games
2. Improving their mental strength
3. Contributing to research regarding the human mind.

This is what we WILL NOT DO

Don’t Worry…. We are not about to make you a human guinea pig. We will not be carrying out any invasive procedures [ IE: not going to take your blood or remove bits of your anatomy ].

This is what WE WILL DO

  1. We will provide you with basic training on archery by qualified instructors using Word Archery Guidelines.
  2. We will get you ready for a tournament once you complete our World Archery Beginner’s Programme [ evaluation is every two months / 7 sessions ]
  3. We will evaluate your neurocognitive abilities and provide you with an ongoing neurocognitive profile [ every two months / 7 sessions ]. This will help you understand your own mental strengths and how to improve further your own

All we request from you is your written consent for us to use your data. This will be completely confidential. If you have any queries please contact Prof Dr Zalina Ismail [] who is the main coordinator for this research project.

We welcome archers of all skill levels, from experienced competitors to those who have never touched a bow! So please join us and have fun while contributing to our knowledge and understanding of the human mind.

INTERESTED? Then read more at our blog

Thank you

Prof Dr Zalina Ismail
BRAINetwork Centre for Neurocognitive Science,
School of Health Sciences,
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.