The term neurodiversity refers to the essentially infinite variability in our neuro-cognitive abilities and needs. It celebrates differences as beautiful rather deficits. Within this inherent diversity, neurodivergent people interact with and interpret the world in unique ways from what neurotypical people might expect. By viewing neurodiversity as a normal variation between every single one of us, we can reduce stigma around learning and thinking differences.
Among epileptic patients, 70% are effectively treated with drugs and live a generally normal life, but the other 30% are resistant to these drugs. Some can get around this by having invasive surgical procedures. Yet despite progress of the last 30 years to improve epilepsy treatment, the percentage of patients who cannot be treated remains at 30%. One of the most debilitating aspects of epilepsy is the uncertainty of when a seizure will occur – even if they are as infrequent as two a year. If you don’t know when the seizures will come, you cannot know when you are safe. Professor David Grayden wants to predict the onset of seizures, which could change the lives of over 15 million people.
Indigenous cultures have a deep emotional investment and attachment to the landscape that acts as both almanac and encyclopaedia. It’s amazing that different cultures separated by vast oceans and continents have independently perceived the patterns in constellations in strikingly similar ways, despite being geographically and temporally separated. Stories from the cosmos give both practical guidance and spiritual comfort, and this way of telling stories and reading the stars is a way of keeping knowledge constant across generations.
The brains of bees are comprised of 960,000 neurons and are the size of a sesame seed. The human brain is 20,000 times bigger, and therefore insects were thought to have constrained neural processing capabilities in comparison. But 100 years ago, Nobel Laureate, Karl von Frisch changed this mindset: he showed that bees indeed have colour vision by training honeybees to collect a sucrose sugar solution associated with coloured cards, and they continued to return to the same coloured cards in the absence of sucrose. Since then, we’ve learned that bees can even perceive ultraviolet wavelengths, which are beyond what we can see.
Everyone’s reality is slightly different. We all experience the world around us in different ways. Our world is sensed as numbers and electrical impulses that our brains then turn into something meaningful. At Extrasensory, everyone was challenged to make sense of the world of the senses and find the limits to their own. There were many incredible sights, tastes and sensations to behold while exploring the magnificent spaces of the Parliament of Victoria!