Try Some Brainy Pages for National Coloring Book Day

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Coloring and coloring books have been a popular activity among children for many years and has even re-emerged as a trend for adults. Not only is it fun, coloring can be relaxing and a great way to reduce stress, among other benefits. Today is National Coloring Book Day, and what better way to celebrate than by spending time with your friends, children, grandchildren, or by yourself to sit back and color?

 

Among its many free downloadable materials for kids and adults, the Brain Awareness Week section of our site features a new series of coloring sheets based on the five classic senses: sight, taste, sound, smell, and touch. While these pages are geared for young children, everyone is welcome to fill them with color and learn a thing or two about how the human body receives sensory information.

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Coloring and drawing also have their cognitive benefits: Reward pathways in the brain become active during art-making activities. A team of researchers at Drexel University published a study last summer that found making art resulted in stress reduction and increased positive emotions. The team used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) imaging to measure blood flow in the brain while participants took part in various art-making activities.

“The prefrontal cortex is related to regulating our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is also related to emotional and motivational systems and part of the writing for our brain’s reward circuit. So seeing increased bloodflow in these areas likely means a person is experiencing feels related to being rewarded,” the study’s authors report.

If you’ve already printed our coloring sheets on the senses and want more, you can download today’s National Coloring Book Day pages for free here. There are also coloring book parties happening at public libraries, museums, and wellness centers all over the US! To share your completed work on social media with fellow colorists, use #NationalColoringBookDay.

– Seimi Rurup

Closed Captioning and Transcripts Now Available for Videos and Podcasts!

At the Dana Foundation, we strive to make credible and current information about the brain available to as many people as possible. As part of that effort, we have recently taken steps to make our materials accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The majority of our YouTube videos are now closed captioned, including our Neuroscience and Society Series, public talks organized by AAAS and the Dana Foundation covering exciting topics in brain science such as architecture and the brain, truth and lying, and meditation. Our Cerebrum podcasts, which feature our Cerebrum editor in conversation with neuroscientists on topics such as the challenge of overcoming glioblastoma, how the human neocortex sets us apart, and Ketamine’s potential to effectively treat depression, now have accompanying transcripts.

Looking for one of our closed caption videos to start with? Check out our brand new Successful Aging and Your Brain On Demand video below to learn about how the brain works, brain diseases and disorders, and tips for leading a brain healthy lifestyle!

– Ali Chunovic

Enjoy the Fireworks, but Protect Your Ears!

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Nothing says Fourth of July like outdoor cookouts and fireworks overhead. Illuminating the sky with a grand display has been an annual tradition for as long as we can remember, since John Adams wished it to be part of the festivities even before signing the Declaration of Independence.

While we encourage everyone to take part in the celebration, it’s important to remember to take precautions to protect your hearing. In a study published last year, the Centers for Disease Control said that nearly one in every four Americans suffer from temporary or permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

“Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States and is twice as prevalent as diabetes or cancer,” the authors report. It is a significant, often unrecognized health problem among adults in the US that can be associated with decreased social, psychological, and cognitive functioning if left untreated.

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From the Archives: Seeking to Stem Suicide

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Nearly 45,000 people in the US kill themselves each year (probably an underestimate, given the stigma still attaching to suicide), and there may be 25 attempts for each death, according to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. A news story we published in January reported on a few of the many avenues of research trying to help doctors and caregivers predict who is at risk and how to better help them.

“Suicide is one of the few medical conditions in which the doctor and patient have different goals—the patient may be highly motivated not to reveal what he or she is thinking,” psychiatrist Maria Oquendo says in the story. “We need biological markers so we can identify those at risk.”

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Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a condition that many are familiar with because of its overwhelming impact and prevalence in the world. In the US, it is the sixth leading cause of death, with women making up almost two-thirds of those with the disease. While it is just one of many types of dementia, Alzheimer’s accounts for up to 80 percent of cases.

In addition to Aphasia Awareness [see previous post], June is also Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Led by the Alzheimer’s Association, the national observance is dedicated to increasing public awareness of AD through conversations among friends, families, and coworkers. The more people know about Alzheimer’s, the more action can be inspired in hopes of better treatments or a potential cure.

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