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 Awareness Week Recap: Thanks for a Great Week!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 20th anniversary of Brain Awareness Week! We are always inspired by our partners’ creativity and thrilled by the growing interest in neuroscience around the world. This year we had more than 740 registered events in 50 countries and 41 US states (plus Puerto Rico), whose outreach programs reached hundreds of thousands of people. After last week’s busy (and fun!) schedule, it’s nice to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights from Brain Awareness Week 2015.

First place winner, Moie Uesugi

First place winner, Moie Uesugi

To kick off the week, we announced our two winners of this year’s Design a Brain Experiment competition for US high school students. Of the many ambitious and creative submissions we received, projects by Moie Uesugi and Christian Gonzalez were awarded first and second place, respectively. Uesugi, a senior at Bard High School Early College Queens in New York City, proposed a new treatment for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Gonzalez, a freshman homeschooled student from Harvest, Alabama, focused on a cure for multiple sclerosis. I see bright futures for both these students! Continue reading

The Suzuki Method: Exercise and the Brain

After I’ve spent the majority of the day sitting at my desk or running around for work, it can be hard to muster up the will to exercise afterwards. While this comes easier to some than others, the positive feelings that follow a challenging workout seem universal. Exploring these emotions, such as joy or exhilaration, is part of what drives Wendy Suzuki’s research as a scientist and professor of neural science and psychology at NYU.

Suzuki’s fascination with the effects of exercise on brain function led her to take her research outside of the lab: She has become a certified exercise instructor for intenSati, a combination of kickboxing, dance, yoga, and martial arts with spoken affirmations. As part of Brain Awareness Week in New York City, she combined her passions into a class titled “Exercise and the Brain:” one hour of intenSati followed by a 45-minute talk on brain function.

Photo credit: Jenna Robino

Photo credit: Jenna Robino

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Do’s and Don’ts of Science Writing

Scientific research can be a lonely business. Labs and studies are collaborative, but the work is task driven, and results often take a year or two. For researchers, communication mostly means talking to like-minded lab partners or collaborators in pursuit of similar goals or outcomes.

But communicating brain research in compelling and creative ways to the tax-paying public and, even more importantly, to decision-makers, is viewed as crucial—especially in the ever-competitive grant and funding climate. That was a significant part of the message in a well-attended professional development workshop at this year’s Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington, D.C. The workshop featured four experienced science communicators: Elaine Snell, Tiffany Lohwater, Jane Nevins, and Stuart Firestein, Ph.D.

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Communicating Science Takes Center Stage at Brain Awareness Reception

“Communicating science is not just the noble thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said adolescent brain expert Jay Giedd, M.D., at Saturday’s annual Brain Awareness Week reception at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting. Dr. Giedd, below, the recipient of SfN’s Science Educator Award in 2012, was alluding to the fact that in order for the public to want to invest in brain research, they have to be able to understand its benefits.

Giedd_BAW

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