URI Ryan Institute to present third annual Brain Fair, “Superfoods” talk as part of Brain Week Rhode Island celebration

Media Contact: Nicole Maranhas, 401-874-2368 |

KINGSTON, R.I., March 1, 2019 — Learning about “superfoods,” taking a 3D tour of the brain and interacting with robots as part of an artificial intelligence demonstration are just a few of the things that Rhode Islanders will be able to experience when the University of Rhode Island’s George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience celebrates Brain Week Rhode Island.

The fun begins Thursday, March 14, with the talk, “Superfoods for a Healthy Gut and Brain,” and will continue Saturday, March 16, with the third annual URI Brain Fair. Both events will take place on the Kingston campus and are free and open to the public. The events are planned as part of the fourth annual Brain Week Rhode Island, a statewide celebration of the brain and brain science, sponsored in part by the Ryan Institute for Neuroscience.

Thursday, March 14: “Superfoods for a Healthy Gut and Grain”

This talk, to be given by Navindra Seeram, professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical science in the URI College of Pharmacy, will provide a look behind the “superfoods” that promote brain health. Seeram, who is also a Ryan Research Professor of Neuroscience, is nationally known for his work with plant-based medicine and research into the link between the gut and brain.

According to Seeram, “Foods from plant sources can help ‘train’ your gut to convert foods into beneficial compounds so that you get the most possible nutrition from the foods you eat. If you choose the right foods, you can give yourself the best possible advantage to keep your brain healthy as you age.”

The talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, Room 100, 140 Flagg Road.

Saturday, March 16: 3rd Annual URI Brain Fair

The URI Brain Fair offers family-friendly activities, including face-painting and a mid-day brain circus, and nearly 30 informational exhibits from a range of disciplines and community organizations. Last year’s event attracted 600 attendees. This year’s Brain Fair brings back a number of past favorites, including 3D tours of the brain, brain-computer interface demonstrations, a simulated “surfing” activity and a simulated dementia experience for adults, along with new activities and exhibits.

One such activity includes providing attendees with hands-on experience with robots as part of a machine-learning demonstration presented by the URI Artificial Intelligence Lab. According to members of the AI Lab, “Artificial intelligence is a topic of increasing importance in today’s society. Studying how the brain works helps to develop powerful neural networks that allow robots to ‘think.’ It’s our hope that providing this type of experience with our robots will foster curiosity and educate people about AI and robotics.”

The Brain Fair will also include informational sessions on:

  • A talk on the upcoming BEACON Study, and the research behind it, by Paula Grammas, executive director of the Ryan Institute. Announced earlier this year, the BEACON Study is a pioneering clinical trial for a new drug to attack Alzheimer’s disease by targeting inflammation in the brain’s blood vessels;
  • “Sleep and Dreams: 10 Common Myths Explained,” by Sue Adams, professor of human development and family studies; and
  • “Understanding and Supporting the Development of Executive Function Skills in Young Children,” by Jessica MacLeod, director of the URI Child Development Center.

Additionally, the fair will include raffle giveaways, light snacks and live entertainment.

The URI Brain Fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be held in two adjacent buildings on campus: Avedisian Hall, 7 Greenhouse Road, and the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, 120 Flagg Road.

For more information on “Superfoods for a Healthy Gut and Brain” and the URI Brain Fair, visit: ryaninstitute.uri.edu/brain-week.