Brain Awareness Week
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Reconnecting by Neuroscience: engaging educational, emotional and social skills among teenagers in prison.

Reconnecting by Neuroscience

Event Date + Time:
March 13 @ 9:00 am - March 17 @ 5:00 pm

Event Location:
Rod. Geovana Aparecida Deliberto, Km 2 - Zona Rural, Ribeirão Preto - SP, 14034-000, Brazil Ribeirão Preto, Brazil

Venue Name:
Candido Portinari Center for Socio-Educational Assistance to Adolescents Directions

About This Event

Event Description:

In Brazil, approximately fifty thousand teenagers from 13 to 18 years old are in prison for criminal acts. Most of these adolescents are incarcerated because of drug dealing and robbery. Among them, 4.5 thousand are in São Paulo State detention centers, the largest population state in the country. Poverty, parental disengagement, weak family ties, recurrent experiences of abuse and negligence, associated with inadequate educational practices have been pointed out as the main causes of very low school achievements and academic engagement on one hand, and a very high school dropout on the other hand. In addition, negative school experiences, evidenced by low academic performance, difficulty interacting with peers and teachers, frequent punishment by school sanctions, low self-esteem and high learning frustration are the main determinants for early school dropout and infraction acts during teenagerhood. Most grew up with the expectation that they would never succeed, and their imprisonment only underpin that belief. On the other hand, strong school bonds have emerged as the most important and long-lasting protection factor against teenagers’ attachment with commission of the offence. Education is a human right, and this is also valid for people in prison, in particular, for young offenders. Worldwide, up to today, the incarcerated have very limited or no access to education, and even more rarely to good education. This is particularly dramatic for young offenders in the early stages of their lives. To improve the educational opportunities, successful rehabilitation and social integration, Neuroscience education may play an extraordinary role by fostering a noble view of oneself and of one’s relationship to the world.

This proposal intends to develop initiatives during the 2023 Brain Awareness Week to bring Neuroscience education inside institutionalized young offenders to help them to develop a deeper understanding of their own lives. Moreover, the understanding of how the brain works may encourage young inmates to develop a deeper appreciation for phenomena they experience in everyday life. Thus, the intention of Neuroscience education for the prisoner lies in its capacity to transform perceptions of self and others. It is these perceptions that determine conduct and behavior. This is true anywhere, even inside the walls of a prison. Maybe especially in prison—a place where education can totally redirect a life, a positive diversion from a negative path. Neuroscience may represent an important piece that fit into the mosaic of successful rehabilitation and can help one to overcome the hurdles even after release from prison. Thus, bolstering neuroscience education among young inmates can lead to perspective transformation and result in learning and action that transforms lives. Neuroscience enables them to live a more thoughtful existence—being confined physically, but free mentally.

As Neuroscience helps us to explain who we are, how we behave and interact with other individuals and the environment, we will show to the students an integrated view of the Nervous System based on our daily life experiences. The activities will be divided into 12 themes offered for 5 days. In each of them, a 45-min lecture is followed by another 45 minutes of hands-on activity and games such as puzzles, crosswords, art work such as paiting and plastic modeling, histological observations and neuroanatomy practices with plastic models. In this first edition of the Brain Awareness Week inside a prison, each class will be attended by a group of 60-80 adolescents and 20 teaching, management and security personnel.

The 12 topics to be addressed are:
1: Can we live without a brain?
2: How the brain is constructed by neurons and synapses.
3: How does the brain monitor the environment?
4: No pain, no gain: why do we feel pain?
5: Life without movement: is it fun?
6: Do we have an automatic pilot? Why do we need an autonomic nervous system?
7: Memory and Learning.
8: Emotional brain. Why do we feel fear, anger and pleasure?
9: Emotional contagion and Empathy.
10: How the brain makes choices: from decision to action.
11: Substances that change brain function and behavior – Part 1: Alcohol, Tobacco, Cocaine, Ecstasy.
12: Substances that change brain function and behavior – Part 2: Marijuana, Codeine, Heroin, LSD.

Event Sponsor(s):

University of São Paulo, Brazil

Type(s) of Event:

Exhibit, Lab Tour, Lecture/Briefing, Workshop


High school students (9-12), Middle school students (6-8)

Required Registration?


Organizer's Details

Organizing Institution(s):

Reconnecting by Neuroscience

Contact Information:

Name: Guilherme Lucas


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