Brain Awareness Week 2012 Coming to a Close

BawLogo-US-wDABIWe’re nearing the end of Brain Awareness Week and much has been going on around the world to educate people about brain function, diseases, and disorders. Nearly 800 partners across six continents signed up for BAW this year (we’re still working on Antarctica), holding a record 929 events.

To spotlight the great work and the diversity of our BAW partners, we posted a new partner interview each weekday to our homepage. These Q&As offer a lot of practical advice, useful to current partners and to those planning to participate next year. Some takeaways included tactics to keep elementary school students’ attention, how to tie a Turkish folk dancing performance to brain education, and the best ways to publicize an event.

In addition to the Q&As, we posted the fifth and final round to our Brain Bee Challenge quiz, featured links to BAW media coverage, and announced the Design a Brain Experiment Competition winner. Michaela Ennis, a senior at the Pingry School in New Jersey, is the winner of the experiment competition, and believe me, she deserves it. She proposed an examination of the effects of social defeat on anxious behavior, pinpointing the molecular mechanisms for that behavior. Senior Editor at Nature magazine Noah Gray (@noahWG) said it best in a tweet, “Brilliant, interesting & too ambitious!” Ennis will no doubt continue to produce great work as an undergrad at MIT next year.

In addition to our website, social media played a big part in spreading the word about BAW. The BAW Facebook page now has 1,636 fans, we launched a new BAW Pinterest page , and the Twitterverse was alive with BAW interactions (#brainweek). We want to give a special thanks to our social media promotional partners: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Parkinson Foundation, The Rockefeller University, and World Science Festival.

Moving from the web world to the real world, yesterday Dana staff attended an in-house BAW event on fitness. Resting in very comfortable chairs, we learned about exercise and the aging brain from Charles Mobbs, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and a past Staying Sharp panelist. He gave us a breakdown of the latest research on the subject and concluded by recommending taking 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) for optimum cognitive benefits. This doesn’t mean you have to make a point of walking five miles on the treadmill, but rather 10,000 steps throughout the whole day. That includes walking around the house, to the subway or your car to get to work, etc.

Following the lecture we were asked to rise from our comfy chairs and get physical. Divided into three groups, we did some cardio and some strength training. I’m going to be honest, it was a little harder than I expected and I cursed my decision to wear jeans that day. We all left the program feeling a little goofy and perhaps a little sore, and happy to have participated.

We took some photos, but alas, they’re still living on a camera out of office. If they’re not too embarrassing, maybe we’ll post a few next week. And speaking of photos, be sure to check out the BAW website in the coming weeks as partners post their photos and reports from this year!

-Ann L. Whitman

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