The Many Faces of Brain Awareness Week

This March, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of Brain Awareness Week (BAW)! It’s come a long way in the last two decades, from an initial 160 partners in the United States to more than 520 partners in 59 countries and 44 states last year. Along the way we’ve collected some wonderful photos from our dedicated partners, which we invite you to enjoy in this short, retrospective video.

Learn more about Brain Awareness Week (March 16-22) by reading our recent article on the campaign’s evolution and learn how to get involved by visiting the BAW website. Come join the party!

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Fear and Resilience in Brainwave’s “Capturing Conflict”

In 2011, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was covering the civil war in Libya when her team was “ripped out” of their jeep by Moammar Gadhafi’s troops. After enduring one week of being bound up, tortured, and continually threatened with execution, Addario and her teammates were released. Despite being kidnapped twice (once in Libya, once in Iraq), caught in an ambush in Afghanistan, and witnessing the destitution of famine and war, Addario exhibits not a single trace of trauma. What is it that makes some of us more resilient than others in times of extreme panic or fear?

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Meeting Tomorrow’s Neuroscientists: Behind the Scenes at the NYC Brain Bee

Guest post by Jess and Katie, neuroscience candidates at Columbia University

Judging by the Saturday morning calm on Columbia University’s Morningside campus, you might think January 31 was a typical lazy weekend. But just inside the doors of Lerner auditorium, the tension was palpable: the Brain Bee competition was only hours away, and the contestants were poring over their notes, taking advantage of every last moment before taking the stage. This was the day they had been preparing for since December—they had arrived at the 2015 NYC Regional Brain Bee.

brainbee guest post

Seniors from Queens’ John Bowne High School posing at the Brain Bee. Photo Credit: johnbowne.org

Every winter, talented high school students across the country are selected to represent their schools in a regional Brain Bee, a spelling-bee-like competition that tests their knowledge of neuroscience. For the past four years, Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach (CUNO) has partnered with the Dana Alliance to prepare the students for the contest and to host it on the Columbia campus in Morningside Heights. As the leaders of CUNO’s Brain Bee activities, we recruited volunteers from the Columbia community to help teach the material to the high school competitors, to proctor the competition itself, and to wrap up the festivities with a Family Brain Fair.

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From the Archives: How Neuroscience Captured the 21st Century

When researchers Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard, and Eric Kandel shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, we commissioned memory researcher John H. Byrne to write an essay on what their achievements meant to the field. In his 2001 essay, “How Neuroscience Captured the Twenty-First Century’s First Nobel Prize,” Byrne starts with a good chunk of Kandel’s acceptance speech; gives a cogent review of each scientist’s separate path and how their discoveries eventually entwined; describes how this changed the field; and considers what it might mean for the future. As you might suspect, it’s a long essay, but full of gems.

Whether overdue or just in the nick of time (as the Decade of the Brain closes), this Nobel Prize celebrates an achievement different in kind from previous observation, speculation, and investigation of the brain. For the first time, an unambiguously mental phenomenon—memory—has been explained in wholly material, mechanical terms. The hypothesis of a separate, nonmaterial, otherworldly realm has become superfluous. A banquet is not the place to spin out these disturbing implications, but Kandel does acknowledge them, for those who will hear, by returning to where his story began—“Know thyself.”

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National Geographic Features Split-Brain Pioneer

For more than fifty years, DABI member Michael Gazzaniga, Ph.D., has been working towards fostering our understanding of the human brain. During the summer of 1964, he worked under neurobiologist Roger Sperry at the California Institute of Technology and contributed to a discovery that is now considered “legendary” in the field of brain science.

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