An increased affective attraction to experimentation with risky behaviour during adolescence is understood as an adaptive, biologically-driven need to gain the experience required to assume adult roles and behaviours. This surge in sensation seeking, coupled with an underdeveloped ability to evaluate risks, coincides with rising dopaminergic activation in brain regions heavily involved in recognition and anticipation of reward. As a consequence, a young adult’s brain is extremely sensitive to the learning that can occur during this period and has cognitive capacities that are primed to take advantage of the experience gained.
MOD. designs for young audiences aged 15-25 years. In our first exhibition, we developed two exhibits nicknamed the “pain chairs” in collaboration with researchers at Body In Mind Institute. The spot-lit, hard-edged metal chairs, complete with seat drains, were placed centre-gallery under dramatic lighting. Dark screens invited visitors to challenge their perceptions of pain and warned against under 15 year-olds using the chairs. The two interactive chairs delivered electric and heat stimuli, modelling different factors known to affect pain perception like attention, distraction, and the placebo effect. Framing the situation as scary and potentially dangerous, and placed within a public building, allows young adults to push the boundaries of what is safe in an environment free of danger.
Evaluations revealed that visitors spent time at interactive exhibits (91% of visitors engaged with the pain chairs), rated them highly in terms of enjoyment and learning, and that this approach also led to two thirds of visitors being able to identify key concepts that we wanted to communicate about the brain and its role in pain perception.
What will participants gain from attending your presentation?
That understanding social and cognitive development can underpin approaches to designing for a young target audience to make their experience better, but also to give the museum permission to include risk and push the boundaries of what might be appropriate.
Dylan DeLosAngeles, Exhibitions Coordinator, MOD.
When: Wednesday 19th February, 12:05pm-12:50pm
Where: Room G21, Learning and Teaching Building, 19 Ancora Imparo Way, Clayton