Poland Takes Victory in International Brain Bee

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First place winner Piotr Olesky (center), second place winner Giovanni De Gannes (right) and third place winner Huai-Ying Huang.

The International Brain Bee World Championship took place in Berlin, at Europe’s largest brain research conference: the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum. Twenty-five finalists, aged between 13 and 18, represented their countries after placing first in their respective regional and national Brain Bee competitions earlier this year. More comprehensive than the local- and national-level contests, the championship features five sections that explore the student’s knowledge of theory and practice in research neuroscience and medical neurology. After three days of exams on neurohistology (the branch of histology that deals with the nervous system), neuroanatomy, patient diagnosis, and a question and answer session with a live judging panel, the five judges—who are all neuroscientists themselves—declared 18-year-old Piotr Olesky from Crakow, Poland, the grand prize winner. Continue reading

Neuroscience Outreach Champions Honored at the FENS Forum 2018 in Berlin

Today, Roland Pochet, Laura López-Mascaraque, and Université Côte d’Azur were awarded prestigious prizes for their contribution to advancing public education and awareness about the progress and promise of brain research. The awards are sponsored by the Dana Foundation and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB), in partnership with the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), and were presented at the 11th FENS Forum in Berlin.

“Reaching out to the public and sharing their passion for neuroscience research is one of the mandates that every neuroscientist should include in her or his activities,” said Pierre Magistretti, vice chairman of EDAB and past-president of FENS. “The recipients of the Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Awards exemplify such commitment. They have excelled in organizing public events at all levels of society, from primary and high school students to the general public to members of parliament. The commitment and achievements of the awardees reflect the mission of the Dana Foundation and EDAB and the engagement they have provided for more than two decades to support public understanding of neuroscience at the international level.”

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Pochet (second from left) and others speak at the European Parliament

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Is Chocolate Good for the Brain?

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It’s World Chocolate Day, and what better way to justify indulging in the sweet treat than by reading about its potential health benefits.

A number of studies have pointed to the possible health benefits of flavanols, naturally occurring compounds found in dark chocolate and cocoa that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. In 2017, Frontiers in Nutrition published a review of the ways they may benefit human brain function, which is also summarized by Harvard Health Publishing in one of their blogs:

  • Short-term consumption may be helpful. For example, a 2011 study of young adults found that two hours after consuming dark chocolate (with high flavanol content), memory and reaction time were better than among those consuming white chocolate (with low flavanol content). However, other similar studies showed no benefit.

  • Long-term consumption may be helpful. One 2014 study found that among adults ages 50 to 69, those taking a cocoa supplement with high flavanol content for three months had better performance on tests of memory than those assigned to take a low-flavanol cocoa supplement.

  • Several studies demonstrated evidence of improved brain blood flow, oxygen levels, or nerve function as measured by imaging tests or tests of electrical activity in the brain after the consumption of cocoa drinks. But because these changes were not routinely associated with improved performance on cognitive tasks, it’s hard to connect the results directly to better brain function.

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Benjamin Rush, Founding Father and Father of Psychiatry

This blog post was originally published on July 2, 2012.

Of the 56 founding fathers who signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence, there were four physicians: Josiah Bartlett and Matthew Thornton of New Hampshire, Lyman Hall of Georgia, and Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania.

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by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c. 1876, Library of Congress

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In Memoriam: Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson, a Pioneer in Parkinson’s Treatment

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Photo: Johan Wingborg/University of Gothenburg

We regret to announce the loss of Dana Alliance member Arvid Carlsson, M.D., Ph.D., who passed away last Friday at 95 years old. Carlsson laid the groundwork for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease by discovering dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in motor function. In 2000, this research won him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with fellow Dana Alliance members Eric R. Kandel, M.D., and Paul Greengard, Ph.D., “for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system.”

In 2001, Dana Alliance member John H. Byrne, Ph.D., wrote a Dana Foundation Cerebrum article to commemorate the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He detailed Carlsson’s journey to his Nobel Prize winning research on dopamine:

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