PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds of Pasadena middle schoolers got the chance to experience Brain Awareness Day first hand by learning about brain health from top researchers.
Neuroscientists use helmets to track the brain's electrical activity. Seeing it in action encouraged Blair Middle Schoolers to fire up their own thinking caps.
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"Smoking not only affects adults, but it's extremely hurting us teens," one student said during her presentation.
Health Career Academy presenters partnered with the Huntington Medical Research Institutes to teach seventh and eighth graders about what can affect the developing mind.
"Our brains are so good at doing things subconsciously that we forget about how hard our brains are working and we also forget how easily they can be damaged," said Dr. Marie Csete, with Huntington Medical Research Institutes.
Seeing an actual human brain up close in a middle school classroom doesn't happen every day. That kind of exposure gave them a new appreciation for their own brains.
"I need to treat my brain more careful because I could get a concussion and bad things might happen," seventh-grader Devin Hardy said.
Csete said it's important to raise awareness about brain health.
"I think that there's very little awareness about how everything we do, from our diet to exercise to our sleep patterns, protect our brain," said Csete.
High school junior Marilyn Benavides is thinking about being a pediatrician some day and hoped her research would convince younger students to use their brains wisely.
"We just want to point out like the basics in the brain and how the basic functions that the brain goes through every day," Benavides said.
Pasadena middle schoolers learn about the brain from top researchers
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