Community Neuroscience: How to Build an Outreach Organization

The latest episode of Community Neuroscience is out and all about how to build an outreach organization from the ground up. Neuroscientist Bill Griesar, Ph.D., and artist Jeff Leake, M.F.A., are faculty members of Portland State University’s psychology department, and together they are the brains behind NW Noggin (Northwest Neuroscience Outreach Group: Growing in Networks).

Founded in 2012, the arts-influenced outreach group is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization with a mission to turn kids on to the wonders of neuroscience. Bill and Jeff have since traveled all across the country to schools, displaced youth shelters, correctional facilities, and even the White House to promote learning about the brain. You can learn more about them and their work in a past Dana Blog interview.

SfN18 Celebrates Brain Awareness

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With this year’s Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting now in full swing, downtown San Diego couldn’t be more bustling. Everywhere you turn, street signs, store windows, and flyers read “Neuroscience 2018” to encourage visitors to check out at least one of the many events happening at the San Diego Convention Center.

Helping to kick off the meeting on Saturday was the Brain Awareness Campaign reception and poster presentation. Alongside the reception stage, shared by numerous Brain Awareness Week “influencers,” were aisles lined with more than 40 colorful poster boards created largely by neuroscientists at various stages of their careers to showcase their neuroscience outreach initiatives.

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SfN18: Pat Metheny at Dialogues Lecture

Based on past experience at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting, I thought I could just stroll into the opening Dialogues lecture a few minutes before it began and park myself just about anywhere. After all, there are about 5,000 seats in the San Diego Convention Center’s massive ballroom, and there were always open seats in past years. But not this year.

That’s because Pat Metheny, one of the world’s best-known jazz composers, guitar players, and band leaders—someone who mostly lets his music do the talking—was the featured guest at “Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society: Music and the Brain.”

After finally finding a seat all the way in the right corner, I watched on a screen as SfN President Richard Huganir and ear surgeon Charles Limb, former colleagues at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (Limb has since moved to UCSF), moderated the program with passion and experience. Both spun personal, humorous anecdotes about the impact that Metheny’s music has had on their lives.

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The Science of Music: A Talk with Pascal Wallisch, Ph.D.

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Image: Shutterstock

Why do humans listen to music? Why do we create it? And what does our taste in music say about us as individuals? These were some of the questions that Pascal Wallisch, Ph.D, set out to address in his talk at an event titled, The Science of Music. Hosted by Think & Drink NYC, this talk was part of an ongoing series organized by the cultural initiative to bring experts in their fields to local bars in hopes of stimulating the minds of bar-goers. Responding to thoughts regarding previous studies on music, Wallisch said, “To be honest with you, I don’t think we fully understand what music is.”

Wallisch, a clinical assistant professor of psychology at New York University, began his lecture by explaining that what differentiates music from sound in general is repetition. “If you ask people,” Wallisch said, “to judge when [a repeating sound] becomes music, there’s a certain repetition frequency in which a random environmental noise becomes music.” For example, as Wallisch explained, water droplets falling are just sounds, but at a certain point of repetition they would be considered musical. He continued by saying that while repetition over time is necessary for something to be considered music, it is not sufficient. “If rhythm is all that matters, then music would be palindromic,” he said, meaning that it would play the same backwards as forwards. Obviously, this is not the case for most, if not all, music.

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Eric Kandel is Alan Alda’s Podcast Guest

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Image courtesy of Alda Communication Training Co.

On the latest episode of the Clear + Vivid podcast, host Alan Alda, well-known actor, writer, and, in recent years, crusader of science outreach, sits down with old friend and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Eric R. Kandel, director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University and author of The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves. Kandel speaks to Alda about his work, the satisfaction of connecting with audiences, and fleeing Austria in the aftermath of its annexation to Nazi Germany.

The podcast focuses on communication and connection. It’s through conversations with individuals holding mastery in various fields that Alda guides the listener, stopping to appreciate peaks and valleys of the art form. In this, Alda and Nobel Laureate Kandel find and sustain a relaxed stride, offering listeners morsels of wisdom: The importance of being mindful of your audience, focusing on one person and changing your approach based on their responses (favorable or not); the role of laughter in forming connections; and the delicate dance of simplifying your ideas to a lay audience without treading on and distorting the science. Continue reading

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