Community Neuroscience: How to Write About Neuroscience

Want to learn the do’s and dont’s of communicating neuroscience? Tune in to the fifth episode of Community Neuroscience, and find out! We interview Kayt Sukel, an accomplished science writer whose essays and articles have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, New Scientist, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, National Geographic, Science, Memory & Cognition, and more. She has written a number of articles for the Dana Foundation (the most recent one on treatment outcomes for post-traumatic stress disorder) and is well-versed in reporting hard science with accuracy. Watch the video below for tips on how to make complex brain research understandable for lay audiences.

Want to learn even more about turning scientific jargon into lay-friendly prose? Grab a copy of Jane Nevins’ You’ve Got Some Explaining to Do, published by the Dana Press. In case you missed an earlier episode of this series, not to worry! They are all up on the Dana Foundation YouTube channel.

Top 5 Dana Stories of 2018? From the Archives

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From the 2012 Cerebrum essay, “The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual.” Photo: Getty Images

At www.dana.org, we have a deep archive of great stories about the brain and the people who study it, and thanks to the internet, none of it is further than a quick search away. When I checked the list of top stories from last year, I was pleased to see that you-all seem to like to read long stories—nearly all the top-read stories are in the longest format we post. But I was surprised that many of the stories are “classic” (i.e. way more than a few years old). This year we’ll be trying to figure out how to make our more-current stories on the same topics just as popular, but for now here are a few suggestions.

Here are the stories folks found most popular on www.dana.org last year.

1. Wounds That Time Won’t Heal: The Neurobiology of Child Abuse (Cerebrum, 2000)

Developmental neuropsychiatrist Martin H. Teicher describes how scientists are discovering startling connections between abuse of all kinds and both permanent debilitating changes in the brain and psychiatric problems ranging from panic attacks to post-traumatic stress. In these surprising physical consequences of psychological trauma, Teicher sees not only a wake-up call for our society but hope for new treatments. Continue reading

National Book Lovers Day

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Enjoy your copy of Cerebrum poolside. Available for purchase on Amazon.

Maybe it’s from years of school-encouraged summer reading lists, but this season always ignites a desire in me to read more books and to ask friends for recommendations. And it just so happens that August celebrates National Book Lovers Day–today! For fellow book lovers, and particularly those who want to learn more about the brain, I can point to some Dana Foundation resources that offer suggestions.

Cerebrum, our monthly online journal of timely ideas in neuroscience, has an accompanying podcast and a yearly printed anthology, but did you know it also publishes quarterly book reviews? Recently reviewed books include Howard I. Kushner’s On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History, Matthieu Ricard and‎ Wolf Singer’s Beyond the Self: Conversations between Buddhism and Neuroscience, and Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. All reviews are written by neuroscientists with an understanding of the chosen topic.

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Dana Press Offers Cerebrum Anthology 2017

anthology cover

When the cardboard cartons containing Cerebrum: Emerging Ideas in Brain Science 2018 arrived at our offices in midtown Manhattan a few weeks ago, pulling them out for the first time felt a bit like the birth of a new child. And like a newborn baby, each of the five anthology’s I’ve edited since coming to the Dana Foundation has its own look, personality, and distinct characteristics.

Let’s start with the look. The provocative cover is the work of J.F. Potevin, a French born, California-based artist whose work has appeared on the covers of Scientific American and Discover magazines. The cover also includes a complete list of contributors, many of them among the most distinguished neuroscientists in their research areas: Helen Mayberg on imaging, Beth Stevens on microglia, and Alvaro Pascual-Leone on deep brain stimulation, for example.

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Science Communication: Dana Resources

In the past decade, I’ve seen more and more scientists step outside their labs—or invite people in—to share how science affects our daily lives and why basic and translational research is important. Spreading the science love isn’t just the purview of reporters and PR people anymore, and interest is high.

Groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have included plenty of sessions on science communication in past years, including workshops to help researchers hone their “elevator pitches” and find compelling stories in their data. In 2017, both the International Neuroethics Society and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) included scicomm sessions during their annual meetings. I couldn’t even get into one of the workshops at SfN because it was so popular the room was already packed before the session started, with a standby line down the hall! (See also video of SfN’s 2017 “Dialogues” chat, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and physician Siddartha Mukherjee chatting with SfN President Eric Nestler about “the excitement and importance of communicating the promise of scientific inquiry to the public.”)

Since part of the Dana Foundation’s mission is educating the public in a responsible manner about brain science and the potential of research, we’re glad to see this trend. Here are a few of our resources to help you reach out.

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