Worried about the zombie apocalypse this Halloween? Then meet Bradley Voytek, who is both a neuroscientist at UCSF and a member of the Zombie Research Society. Zombie brains were the topic of his discussion at the California Academy of Sciences on Thursday.

Here are his tips on how neuroscience can help you survive a zombie attack.

1. Run away. “The reason that they’re uncoordinated and slow is presumably because of damage to an area of the brain in the back called the cerebellum which coordinates motor movements. So you’re faster than them,” says Voytek.

2. Create a distraction. “They’re very distractible due to damage to the bilateral posterior parietal cortex. So if you could, distract them in an anyway possible. Maybe set off something loud in the distance.”

3. Hide. “They have very poor memories. So after a few minutes, they’ll probably forget that you’re there, unless they could smell you.”

Of course, as a scientist, Voytek claims that zombies aren’t real, but he says they’re a great tool for getting the public interested in the human brain. “It’s really just a way of making sometimes boring neuroscientific facts really interesting for the public.”

Voytek’s talk helped kick off the Bay Area Science Festival, an unprecedented undertaking with more than 100 events around the Bay Area.

“My goal was to take science to the people,” says festival director Kishore Hari. “I wanted to showcase that science is part of our culture. We’re one of the worldwide leaders in scientific discoveries.”

The festival includes star-viewing parties, talks, hikes and full day science extravaganza at AT&T Park on November 6. Here are a few of our event picks.

  • Science Pub Crawl – November 4. Cruise the Mission District and learn about the science of beer, hear from science writer Carl Zimmer and meet the nerd of your dreams at nerd speed dating.
  • Contact (The Reel and the Real) – November 2. Attending a screening of Contact with Jill Tarter, the same alien-hunting astronomer played by Jodie Foster in the movie.
  • Radiolab: Live in the Dark – November 3 and 4. See a live performance by Radiolab duo Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich.

Check out dozens of other events on their site. Many are free.

Bay Area Science Festival Kicks Off with a Few Important Tips On Zombies 28 October,2011Lauren Sommer


Lauren Sommer

Lauren is a radio reporter covering environment, water, and energy for KQED Science. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals, and desperately tried to get her sea legs – all in pursuit of good radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, Science Friday and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can find her on Twitter at @lesommer.

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