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Auckland scientist lights up our brains

Media Release from the Royal Society of New Zealand


22 February 2000


Auckland scientist lights up our brains


A leading Auckland scientist will light up our brains as part of his James Cook Research Fellowship research into how the brain works.

President of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Sir John Scott announced today that
Professor Michael Corballis (University of Auckland) is one of four researchers to be awarded a two year Fellowship by the Society.

Professor Corballis has been studying brain function in people with split brains for 15 years. He says the James Cook Research Fellowship means he can concentrate fully on this work instead of fitting it around teaching and university administration work.

“By studying which part of the brain does what, we can get a step closer to helping those with brain disorders,” Professor Corballis said.

“For example, we can study which part of the brain lights up when someone with dyslexia performs certain mental tasks.

“High-tech equipment that measures brain waves is vital for this sort of work. Auckland University has an EEG facility that helps us identify when the brain is active but not the crucial information of where it is active.

“During my Fellowship I will travel to the United States to carry out research on equipment that tracks where brain activity happens.

“By putting all the pieces of the puzzle together we can learn a lot that could help people with language problems, amnesia and other memory problems, dyslexia and more.

“All of us have been touched sometime in our lives by someone with brain damage. That’s what makes this sort of research worthwhile – in the future we may be able to give the help needed by those with brain damage.

“People need to realise that research is important in New Zealand, for the betterment of all of us. After all, if someone overseas invents a piece of technology or researches ideas that could help us, and we don’t have people that can use the technology or ideas, New Zealand could be left in the dark, to the detriment of all of us,” Professor Corballis said.

For further information contact:
Michael Corballis, 09 373 7599 ext 8561
Sue Usher, Executive Officer, The Royal Society of New Zealand, 04 472 7421.

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