Richard Morris on The Life Scientific

“Suppose you were to go back to the place where you lived as a child,” neuroscientist Richard Morris prompts, “You could probably go back to the exact spot where the house was, but it may have changed dramatically…It may be a whole different kind of neighborhood. But you would know that was the place where you had grown up.”

So what happens in our brains to give us this innate sense of place? Morris has devoted the last 50 years to researching and understanding the mechanisms in our brain that power this “internal GPS” and offered some insight on Tuesday’s episode of BBC Radio’s “The Life Scientific.” His work focuses on how brain connections change, strengthen, and weaken in response to patterns of activity that correspond to everyday life experiences.

Continue reading

2017 Design a Brain Experiment Competition

FB-Icon-FINAL-PNG

Students have just over one month to submit their entries to our annual Design a Brain Experiment competition! We’re looking for high school students in the US to take on the challenge of coming up with an original experiment focusing on the human brain. On January 11, 2017, all entries will be collected for review by our team of scientific advisors, led by neuroscientist Eric Chudler, Ph.D.

This is the sixth year the Dana Foundation will be awarding a $500 first place prize and a $250 runner-up prize to the schools or sponsoring nonprofit institutions of the winning students. Research proposals can investigate any part of neuroscience as long as it tests a theory about the brain. Just remember, the experiments are hypothetical, so students don’t need to actually complete them.

Last year’s winning submission was from New York’s Emery Powell, who focused on a potential therapy to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. For more details on how to enter, read through the official competition guidelines. Experiments will be judged on creativity, so we encourage students to think outside the box. The 2017 winners will be announced during Brain Awareness Week (March 13-19). Good luck!

Global Mental Health and Neuroscience: Challenges and Opportunities

Sheckar Saxena at SfN, November 2016

Sheckar Saxena at SfN, November 2016

“When it comes to mental health, all countries are developing countries. A country that does not look after the treatment of more than 50 percent of people with depression living in that country, a country that allows a million people to stay in prisons when suffering from mental disorders, is it a country that can be called a developed country for mental disorders or mental health? You answer that.” –Shekhar Saxena, November 2016

This past August, Patricio V. Marquez and Shekhar Saxena wrote for Cerebrum on making mental health a global priority. This month, Saxena, a psychiatrist and director of the department of mental health and substance abuse at the World Health Organization, spelled out the challenges and opportunities during a discussion at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). Continue reading

Music and the Arts Promote Heathy Cognitive Function

A session entitled “Arts, Music, and the Brain: How the Arts Influence Us from Youth to Maturity” drew a standing room only crowd in a late afternoon session on Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.

music_boyandguitar

Credit: Shutterstock

Four speakers came at the topic from slightly different angles. The common denominator: In addition to anecdotal evidence and common sense, improved imaging and sound wave technology has helped neuroscientists demonstrate that arts and music boost cognitive function across social economic class, age, gender, and ethnicity.

Continue reading

SfN Discussion Centers on Youth Football

On an early Sunday afternoon a few blocks away from the Society for Neuroscience Conference at the San Diego Convention Center, sports bars packed with football fans watched their heroes bang heads playing the most popular sport in America. Inside the center, four neuroscientists who specialize in head trauma and a former NFL player talked about the complex issues of concussion and multiple impacts to the brain in football, others sports, military service, and in random accidents.

“Here is an October 9 New York Times article about Jordan Reed, a tight end for the Washington Redskins, who sustained his sixth concussion and pondered whether if and when he should return to the field,” Harry Levin, a professor of neuroscience at Baylor University, enlarged on a screen. “Six is too many, and he ended up missing only two games.”

“Did he have come back too soon?” asked Levin. The answer, to the frustration of athletes, their families, and neuroscientists head trauma researchers is: We really don’t know.

While the roundtable discussion, “Concussion: From the Players’ Experience to the Future of Research,” offered compelling data on the scope of concussion and mild head trauma by gender, age, and circumstance, the speakers emphasized that in light of heightened awareness and the challenges facing researchers about quantifying the dangers, making public policy decisions is purely speculative and premature. [See full video of the discussion, below.]

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: