Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light

Photo source/credit: Ed Boyden/McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

Photo source/credit: Ed Boyden/McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

What if we could suddenly cease cravings caused by addiction or turn off feelings of depression with the flip of a switch? To better understand “one of the hottest areas of neuroscience research,” the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) welcomed three guests to discuss the latest developments in the field of optogenetics. The June 9th event was the latest in a series of luncheon briefings on Capitol Hill, hosted by AAAS and funded by the Dana Foundation.

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Addiction and Free Will

37f48-6a01156f9c01e7970c017eeae51f50970d-piIn an article recently published by the Huffington Post, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shares an intimate anecdote about her grandfather’s harrowing battle with alcoholism, an addiction that was kept secret from her until long after his death.

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From Birth to Two: the Neuroscience of Infant Development

Photo courtesy of AAAS

Photo courtesy of AAAS

“There are many misconceptions about child development,” said Pat Levitt, Provost Professor at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California at the latest Neuroscience and Society lecture convened by the Dana Foundation and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Some of the most prevalent myths include that humans are born with a blank slate; children are sponges; 80% of development takes place by 3 years old; and that a child’s outcome is predominantly self-determined. Moreover, many consider the mixture of fate, free will, parenting, genes, and environment a mysterious “black box” that ultimately decides a child’s success.

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Father’s Day in Neuroscience

Every year, on the third Sunday of June, we dedicate the day to showing appreciation for the male figures who have made countless contributions and sacrifices on our behalves. Whether it’s work in an office, at home, in a lab, or elsewhere, it’s important to acknowledge their diligence and commitment to serving others. In most academic disciplines, there are also significant individuals who have dedicated their lives to pursuing particular ideas that eventually led to major breakthroughs in that field.

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Brain Books for Your Summer Reading List

“The brain has as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way.” –Nancy C. Andreasen M.D., Ph.D., Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member

Cerebrum coverThis summer, as you go on vacation, relax, and ponder the mystery of the cosmos, take a good book with you that will have you contemplating the vastness of your own brain. The following summer reading list suggestions are all by Dana Alliance members or prominent neuroscientists and range from intellectual discovery to children’s poetry. Pick one up, and enjoy!

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