“Seeing, feeling and touching: neurobiological and neuroprosthetics research results” was the topic of this year’s teacher training at the German Primate Center and due to the high demand, we had to hold it twice on consecutive days. A total of 60 biology teachers from five different federal states came to Göttingen to acquire insights into the functioning and performance of the brain. Neuroscientists Stefan Treue, Alexander Gail, Hansjörg Scherberger and Valeska Stephan from the DPZ as well as Renate Schweitzer from the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry presented the complex topic in five lectures in a lively and entertaining manner for which they received compliments and interesting questions. The guests in particular praised the ability of all the speakers to convey complex relationships in a simple and understandable manner.
Renate Schweizer began the teacher training with a lecture on the influence of perceptions and actions on the brain. With informative illustrations and explanations, she took her audience on a trip through the somatosensory cortex of the cerebral cortex, the brain area that is responsible for our ability to have body-related feeling. Hansjörg Scherberger elaborated on how neuroprosthetics function. He explained the development of the primate model and the benefits they represent for the future in medicine for patients with paraplegia or amputated limbs. Alexander Gail gave an overview on how stimuli and rules govern our actions as well as the possibilities and limits of adaptation performance of our brain. With the help of effective images and videos, Stefan Treue explained how paying attention works as a filtering and rating system and how it changes our visual perception in favor of "important" stimuli. This guaranteed the attention of his listeners. Valeska Stepan concluded the day with a seminar where she introduced the teachers to many useful and freely available online application examples for the classroom and at the same time gave many tips for illustrative and interactive exchange of neuroscientific topics. The colony manager Uwe Schönmann, took the guests on a guided tour of the DPZ grounds and provided vital information on breeding and husbandry of the various primate species.
The speakers received high recognition for their lively manner of presentation, their closeness to current research and for the versatility of the topics. The majority of teachers rated the event as useful for their lessons and praised the many practical examples. "An entertaining and very eventful day. Very competent speakers. Very good, despite of or maybe because of the many different presentations!“ one of the participants mentioned on the feedback form. There were also suggestions on the part of the teachers for new exciting training topics for the coming year: Favorite topics were evolution as well as field and behavioral research with primates.