An Enlightening Conversation on Autism

An hour before a program titled “The Spectrum” began, featured participant David Amaral, Ph.D., complained that in the weeks leading up to the event, he had had trouble getting his hands on Snow Cake, a 2007 film in which Sigourney Weaver plays a high-functioning autistic woman. “I tried Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and couldn’t find it anywhere,” said Amaral. “But I was eventually able to find the DVD on Amazon—and liked it very much.”

That’s high praise coming from one of the nation’s foremost researchers on autism. Amaral, UC Davis Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and the Beneto Foundation chair, and founding research director of the M.I.N.D. Institute, and Weaver, an acclaimed actress, film producer, and noted environmentalist, discussed autism to a sold-out audience at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan.

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Lyn Hughes Photography, courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art.

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2016 AAAS Annual Meeting: Come Say Hi!

Heading to the AAAS 2016 Annual Meeting in DC this weekend? We’ll be there! Visit us at booth #2024, where we’ll be handing out free publications (for adults and kids) and brain-themed swag.

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Ready to greet our visitors at last year’s booth in San Jose, CA.

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Record Turnout for NYC Regional Brain Bee

Twelfth-grader Melissa Cao, from Long Island’s Bethpage High School, took home the grand prize after a close race with two other finalists at Saturday’s Regional Brain Bee at Columbia University in New York City. The local event is part of an annual international neuroscience competition. Winners advance into the national and then international competitions during the spring and summer months as part of Brain Awareness Week (BAW).

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Program moderator Carol Mason, Ph.D., awards Cao her first place prize. Photo credit: Jacqueline Silberbrush

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Scientists Weigh in on Special Needs Learning

“Allowing children to fail, to think they’re ‘dumb,’ is no longer acceptable,” said Dana Alliance member Sally Shaywitz at a recent Capitol Hill briefing on what neuroscience can tell us about educating special needs children.


Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, joined fellow panelists Dana Alliance member Martha Denckla and Damien Fair for a discussion that addressed the importance and the difficulty of early detection of learning disorders such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As reported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

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Mental Illness Across the Ages

Despite some recent improvements, the chance that children or adults in America will get care for their mental illnesses is still critically low.

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Nelson Freimer

While around 42 million adults in the US have a mental illness each year, “less than 40 percent of all adults who have mental illness got any treatment at all last year,” said psychiatrist Nelson Freimer during a panel discussion on mental illness across the lifespan at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. Freimer, director of the UCLA Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, also warns of “an epidemic of depression” among people just entering adulthood now, more than in previous generations.

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