Mirrors and Memory

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Changing perspectives, self-awareness and keen concentration are all concepts that Ph.D. student Noa Ofen-Noy grapples with as she pursues one of her favorite pastimes – the Japanese martial art of aikido. Her passion for this art of learning fits in well with her work at the Weizmann Institute's Neurobiology Department, where she is trying to determine the factors influencing the performance of cognitive tasks. 

Her work, supervised by Prof. Yadin Dudai and former Weizmann faculty member Dr. Avi Karni, tracks the stages in acquiring the skill of mirror reading, in an attempt to better understand the structure and interaction of the different memory systems in the brain. Ofen-Noy says that her own learning experiences – in aikido, yoga, acting and youth instruction – lend her firsthand insight into such cognitive tasks. “All of these are intertwined. They're like a looking glass into each other.”



Ph.D. student Noa Ofen-Noy


On campus, Ofen-Noy plans the activities of the Chais Family Exploration Camp (a summer camp for science, music and art). She also works with high school students in the Amos de-Shalit Youth Science Workshop, in which she once participated as a youth. Today she feels that the enthusiasm of the students, as they acquire their first taste of lab research, replenishes her excitement in her own work. In addition, she is a member of one of Weizmann's three theater groups: “The participants come from many different fields and the interactions are always stimulating.” 

“To be good in these fields requires much work,” she says. “In aikido, around five years of practice are needed to effectively acquire the basic skills – around the same time it takes to obtain a doctoral degree, now that I think of it.”


Ofen-Noy’s studies are supported by the Joseph Brainin and Sally Brainin Scholarship, the Inez P. and David N. Myers Scholarship, and the Sylvia and Aaron Scheinfeld Scholarship