2017 Brain Awareness Video Contest Winners

The winners of the 2017 Brain Awareness Video Contest have been announced! Every year, the Society of Neuroscience (SfN) hosts the Brain Awareness Video Contest that anyone can enter by working with an SfN member to produce an educational video on the brain. The topics are broad and the execution of the videos diverse and creative.

The first place winner, Alison Caldwell, uses her video to answer the question, “What Are Optogenetics?” In the video, she discusses how scientists can “control” the brain using light by manipulating neurons’ action potential–the key to how neurons communicate. Discoveries using optogenetics range from better understanding how the brain processes time to figuring out some of the circuits involved in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. [Read more about this exciting field in our news article and Capitol Hill Briefing video, both from 2015.]


Lotte Stemerding’s second place video, “Connecting the Dots,” discusses spatial navigation and the types of neurons involved–place cells, grid cells, head direction cells, and border cells– which are located in or around the hippocampus.

The third place video, “How to Wiggle Your Toes,” by Matthew Sugrim, describes the complex process by which “Betzy,” a neuron in the motor cortex, develops a signal pathway during fetal development, enabling a person to wiggle his or her toes. The honorable mention video is “Without Your Cerebellum” by Taylor Woodward.

You too can participate in the contest by picking your favorite Brain Awareness videos— People’s Choice voting is now open!

– Amanda Bastone

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