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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Experts Give Tips for Staying Sharp at Public Event

As part of Brain Awareness Week, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) co-hosted its annual Staying Sharp program with NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City on Tuesday afternoon. Before diving into a panel discussion on memory, aging, and brain health, professional trainer Linda Meyer took the stage to warm up the audience—literally. Meyer used a combination of physical exercise, fun tunes, and brain teasers to warm up our minds and focus our attention. She emphasized how small changes can impact our attention and ability to engage.

Audience members happily participated in Meyer's warm-up stretches.

Audience members happily participated in Meyer’s warm-up stretches.

To get everyone on the same page, neurologist Martin Sadowski started the panel discussion with a New York-inspired explanation of Alzheimer’s disease. Imagine New York City after a few days of heavy snow: The sanitation department has been busy plowing, so an abundance of garbage litters the sidewalk. Fortunately, the snow eventually melts, and sanitation can get back to their normal routine. Now imagine the city got rid of the sanitation department, and let heaps of trash accumulate unfettered; in a few years it would be absolutely impossible to walk down the streets or sidewalks.

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Posted in Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, Brain Awareness Week, Alzheimer's disease, BAW, DABI, Aging/Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seeing Pain

From left, Mark Frankel of AAAS, Cindy Steinberg, David Thomas, Edward Bilsky, and David Borsook.]

From left, Mark Frankel of AAAS, Cindy Steinberg, David Thomas, Edward Bilsky, and David Borsook.

Chronic pain affects more than 100 million people in the United States and is a leading cause of suicide as well as an economic drain of more than a half-trillion dollars a year, according to the Institute of Medicine. It’s also one of the “invisible” disorders, like depression, and people who have chronic pain can find themselves misunderstood, shunned, and locked out of the treatment they need. Worse, in many cases, there is no good treatment.

“We really need to accelerate research into the neuroscience and neurobiology of pain,” said activist and chronic-pain patient Cindy Steinberg during a panel discussion on the topic at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

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Despite enormous strides in our understanding of the brain over the last few decades, lectures and panel discussions featuring neuroscientists regularly conclude with the following admission: the more we learn, the more we realize how far we are from definitive answers. In a Brainwave discussion between actor Jake Gyllenhaal and neuroscientist Moran Cerf on the impact of dreams, that often-repeated refrain was reaffirmed as the duo waxed philosophical and queried each other on various aspects of what Freud called “the road to the unconscious mind.”

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Posted in BAW, Brain Awareness Week, Dreams, Events, Journals - Cerebrum, Media, Neuroeducation, Web author: Bill Glovin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2015 Winners of “Design a Brain Experiment” Competition

For the past four years, the Dana Foundation has received countless submissions for its annual “Design a Brain Experiment” competition. In the fall, high school students all across the country are asked to come up with innovative theories that challenge our knowledge about the brain. The proposed experiments are judged on originality, innovation, and scientific accuracy (students are not asked to complete their experiments, so creativity is encouraged).  For this year’s Brain Awareness Week, we are happy to announce the two participants that have taken home the first and second place awards! Continue reading

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