Neuroscientists have exchanged their laboratories for the catwalk for a unique project to explain neuroscience through fashion. The scientists are from the University of Southampton.
Over the last three years, the Changing Minds project has challenged second-year fashion design and knitwear students from the University's Winchester School of Art to design garments inspired by research into conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.
Six outfits from the project will be attracting attention and bringing biological science to new audiences at the Wonder Street Fair (7-9 April), which forms part of a wider season of brain-related events organised in partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Barbican in London.
Dr Shmma Quraishe, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University, says: "People are fascinated by the garments and want to find out more about their connections with neuroscience and our research. It is also a great opportunity to remove the stigma associated with mental illness."
Cecilia Langemar, Programme Leader in Fashion and Textile Design at Winchester School of Art is also involved. She says: "The project links in with a project that I have been running since 2008 called 'Make A Change' where the students are asked to consider how they can make a change through their fashion design ideas and concepts. It has always been a very successful and interesting project as the students expand their perception and understanding of what fashion design can be and the changes you can achieve as a designer when joining design and a particular cause."
Lindy Holden-Dye, Professor of Neuroscience at Southampton, started the collaboration with colleagues Dr Bina Nausheen and Dr Catherine Cowan in 2009 through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Excellence with Impact scheme. She says: "I am delighted the initiative is introducing biological science to new audiences. It is also a great example of multidisciplinary research, which draws together researchers from across the University, to make a significant contribution towards understanding and responding to some of society's major challenges."