SfN Launches New Brain Facts Book

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Credit: Society for Neuroscience

Interested in learning more about how your brain works? Whether you’re looking for information about psychiatric disorders, the developing brain, addiction, or other brain topics, the Brain Facts book by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has got you covered. Produced in partnership with The Kavli Foundation and the Gatsby Foundation, Brain Facts gives an overview of the brain and nervous system, covering a variety of important topics in understandable language. Recently, SfN launched the eighth edition of the book, which was scientifically reviewed by nine members of the Dana Alliance, among others, to make sure the information is as credible and up-to-date as possible.

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Aphasia Awareness Month Interview with Kenneth Heilman, M.D.

For a devastating language disorder that affects almost two million people in the US alone, about 85 percent of people in a national survey have never heard the term “aphasia.” More common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy, it does not discriminate according to age, race, or gender. With June being Aphasia Awareness Month, we asked Kenneth M. Heilman, M.D., to help us get the word out.

Heilman, who is an expert in language and speech disorders, was Chief of Medicine at NATO Hospital in Turkey during the Vietnam War and currently is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Neurology at the University of Florida (UF) and a staff neurologist at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Heilman has also been a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives since 2003.

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Photo courtesy of Kenneth Heilman

Aphasia is more common than other well-known brain disorders, with an estimated 180,000 people predicted to develop it each year. Why do people know so little about it? Continue reading

#WSF18: Harnessing the Power of Neuroplasticity

The World Science Festival in New York City, now in its 11th year, offers fascinating talks on a variety of science disciplines, and notably for us, neuroscience. At last week’s talk on neuroplasticity, we heard from neurobiologist and Dana Alliance member Carla Shatz, developmental psychologist and Dana Alliance member Nim Tottenham, and neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone. Moderated by neurosurgeon Guy McKhann, the discussion included what neuroplasticity is and why it’s important, critical periods of development in the brain, and the possibility of accessing it later in life for cognitive enhancement.

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From left: Guy McKhann, Carla Shatz, Nim Tottenham, Alvaro Pascual-Leone. Photo: World Science Festival/Greg Kessler

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Alliance Members Awarded Kavli Prize in Neuroscience

The 2018 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, which recognizes neuroscientists for pioneering advances in our understanding of existence at its biggest, smallest, and most complex scale, was presented to Dana Alliance member A. James Hudspeth, of The Rockefeller University, Robert Fettiplace, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Dana Alliance member Christine Petit, of Collège de France/Pasteur Institute, for their scientific discoveries of the molecular and neural mechanisms of hearing. The Laureates used complementary approaches to unravel the mechanisms by which hair cells in the inner ear transform sound into electrical signals that can be deciphered by the brain.

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Dana Alliance member Christine Petit
© William Beaucardet

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Dana Alliance member A. James Hudspeth
© Rockefeller University

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Robert Fettiplace © University of Wisconsin-Madison

The announcement on the Kavli Prize site continues:

“They have provided fundamental new insights into how our inner ear transforms sound into electrical signals – the basis of hearing – and have unveiled genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying hearing loss,” says Ole Petter Ottersen, head of the neuroscience prize committee. “Their work serves as a sterling example of how concerted efforts across disciplines and technologies can revolutionize our understanding of complex neurobiological processes.”

Hudspeth’s research has provided much of the framework for our understanding of how sound is converted into neural signals through hair cells and their ion channels. Fettiplace showed that each hair cell in the cochlea of the inner ear is sensitive to a specific range of sound frequencies and discovered the mechanistic basis of this. By exploring the genetics of hereditary deafness, Christine Petit has furthered our understanding of hair cell biology and informed deafness diagnosis and counseling. Combined, these Laureates’ work has unraveled the sense of hearing.

More details available at the Kavli Prize website.

Dana Alliance Members in Conversation: A Q&A with Eric Nestler

We spoke to neuroscientist and former Society for Neuroscience president Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., about the bipartisan nature of biomedical research, his hopes for the future of addiction and depression, new findings on stress and depression, and more in the latest Dana Alliance member Q&A. These Q&As are part of a regular series of in-depth interviews that give readers a look into the outreach, research, and interests of the preeminent neuroscientists that make up the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.

On why his institution, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, prioritizes outreach, Nestler said:

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