Brain Awareness Week 20th Anniversary

Brain Awareness Week 2015—March 16-22—is less than six months away and this year it’s a big one: BAW is celebrating its 20th anniversary! The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives organized the first Brain Awareness Week in 1996, beginning with 160 organizations in the United States. The goal was to connect groups from different sectors—academic, government, business, and advocacy—and unite them through their shared interest in the brain. The unifying theme was that brain research is the hope for treatments, preventions, and possibly cures for brain diseases and disorders and to ensure a better quality of life at all ages. Almost 20 years later, that theme has united 862 organizations across 59 countries and 44 U.S. states. We are looking for an even bigger celebration for Brain Awareness Week’s 20th birthday.

A potential future neuroscientist at event at University of Miami neuroscience graduate students, BAW 2014

A potential future neuroscientist at the University of Miami, BAW 2014

March might seem far in the future, but BAW partners tell us again and again in their Partner Reports how important it is to plan early. Looking through these reports can also help you find other advice and ideas for your event planning.

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Dana Newsletter September

Below is the content that appeared in the latest Dana email newsletter. You can sign up to receive this (and other Dana email alerts and/or print publications) by going here.

Brain-to-Brain Interfaces: When Reality Meets Science Fiction

by Miguel A. L. Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D.

The scientist behind the robotic exoskeleton demonstration at the opening of last summer’s soccer World Cup writes about the research that led up to the historic event and its potential to help paraplegics and others suffering from spinal-cord injuries to move by controlling machines with their thoughts. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas.

See also: “Truth, Justice, and the NFL Way,” a book review of League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth

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NIH Puts ‘Money Where Mouth Is’ Concerning Sex Differences Policy

Guest post by science writer Kayt Sukel

Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health called for a sweeping policy change demanding that sex differences be addressed in future research programs funded by the agency [see Dana story, NIH Calls for ‘Sea Change’ Regarding Sex Differences in Research]. Most applauded the move as a vital first step in transforming how sex differences are currently handled in biomedical studies. But some worried that without proper funding, scientists would have difficulty complying with the new mandates.

“Money is a critical component of all this,” said Jill Goldstein, director of research for the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology and Harvard Medical School. “There has to be funding to focus on sex differences or else it’s hard to see how it is really going to happen.”

Today, the National Institutes of Health announced it has awarded more than $10 million in supplemental funding to help grantees better investigate the effects of sex in their research.

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Stress and the Brain

Didn’t sleep well last night? Your immune system may be in overdrive today, starting or continuing a cascade of stressors that could spell ill for your body and brain.

kiecolt-glaser-OSU

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser

“If you didn’t sleep, if you had a tired night, your IL-6 levels are higher today,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University. IL-6 (Interleukin 6) triggers inflammatory and auto-immune processes that protect the body, but too much response has been linked to such diseases as diabetes, atherosclerosis, lupus, arthritis, and anxiety and depression.

Kiecolt-Glaser stepped through several studies and reviews of research on immune reactions to stress during the forum “Stressing About Stress–What Our Minds and Bodies are Going Through and Ways to Cope” at the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

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Keeping Our Eye on the Ball: NFL Concussion Crisis

CTE-February

Media coverage of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and other lesser known National Football League (NFL) players involved in domestic abuse cases have pushed the larger problem facing the game—chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—to the back burner.

In a recent New York Times column, writer Michael Powell notes that barely anyone noticed “the John Abraham sideshow down in Phoenix.” Abraham, a 36-year-old veteran linebacker, suffered a concussion in the season’s first game. Afterward, ESPN reported that he had been struggling with memory loss for more than a year.

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