From the Archives: Artists and Scientists Envision Dreaming

Dana Alliance member J. Allan Hobson has long been interested in sleep and dreaming, including classic research on rapid eye movement sleep. After he retired from Harvard, Hobson even built a museum, Dreamstage, on his farm in Vermont. In 1999, he filed a rather playful essay for our Cerebrum journal, “From Angels to Neurons: Artists and Scientists Envision Dreaming.” Collecting and describing science data and great artworks, he invites us to dive into our own impressions of consciousness and dreaming. Here are two bits from the essay:

The Music of the Spheres

15th century etching, artist unknown

15th century etching, artist unknown

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Sir Colin Blakemore and the Importance of Neuroethics

The International Neuroethics Society (INS) defines neuroethics as “a field that studies the implications of neuroscience for human self-understanding, ethics and policy.” Though it is oftentimes the subject of controversy, the field is crucial for understanding the significance of science and personal responsibility, and it’s also something that is vital to all criminal justice systems. Among the many advocates for responsible neuroscience, the University of London’s Sir Colin Blakemore was recently invited to speak at the International Brain Research Organization’s (IBRO) global congress to address this topic.

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World Cup Reignites Talk of Concussion Safety

We’re going to the finals! Tuesday night, the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated top-ranked Germany to score a place in the Women’s World Cup finals. But national pride and enthusiasm aside, this summer’s tournament has reignited talk about the dangers of concussions and chronic traumatic encephalothopy (CTE) in soccer. Just 28 minutes into Tuesday night’s game, American player Morgan Brian and German player Alexandra Popp’s heads collided on a free kick near the U.S. goal. Both players spent a few minutes writhing on the ground afterwards (Popp with a noticeably bloody head wound), and after a few minutes on the sideline, both were examined by team physicians and returned to the game. FIFA was criticized for not having an independent neurologist on the sideline to evaluate the extent of the head trauma, and the incident prompted a number of articles about player safety.

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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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