New Paper: Incorporating Sex Influences into Today’s Brain Research

Historically, most medical research has used male subjects (human and animal) and tissues, but recently there has been a notable increase in the acceptance of the need to incorporate sex influences into brain research. in 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandated that all future biomedical research funded by the agency include sex differences.

But two years after the NIH passed its mandate, the research community continues to debate how best to address sex as a biological variable.

Why not just introduce female subjects to the studies, you might wonder, but it’s not that simple, as Jill Goldstein, director of research at the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains in our new briefing paper:

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Brain Awareness Week 2017: Why Become a Partner?

Brain Awareness Week 2017 (March 13-19) is only a couple of months away, and it is the perfect time to become a Brain Awareness Week partner! Partners participate in the campaign by organizing creative and innovative activities within their communities to educate the public about the brain and the promise of brain research. Many different types of organizations can become partners including K-12 schools, universities, medical and research institutions, professional groups, government agencies, and outreach organizations. Partnership is also geographically diverse, with partners located in more than 45 countries and six continents.

Partners can publicize and share their events on the BAW Calendar of Events and access free resources including event ideas and planning tips, outreach tools, education and science links, and downloadable resources. Partners within the United States can even order free publications and promotional materials to distribute to their audiences. A new video, “Why Become a Brain Awareness Week Partner,” which explains in detail the benefits of becoming a partner, includes interviews with partners and showcases stunning photos submitted by partners around the globe:

You can also find answers to commonly asked questions about Brain Awareness Week on our FAQ page.

– Amanda Bastone

Sleep Disorders as Prologue to Disease: From the Archives

What a (incremental) difference seven years make. In 2009, when we wrote about Dana Alliance member David Holtzman’s work, the headline was “Could Sleep Disorders Contribute to Alzheimer’s?” This month, Scientific American describes the work he and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are doing using the headline “Why Sleep Disorders May Precede Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.” We’ve gone from “maybe take a look” to “what’s the mechanism” on evidence for a link between sleep troubles and risk for neurodegenerative disorders has come.

Scientific American’s Simon Makin calls the Holtzman lab’s 2009 discovery the “best evidence for a causal relationship” From our story:

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Dana Newsletter: October

Below is the latest Dana email newsletter. You can sign up to receive this (and other Dana email alerts and/or print publications) by going here.

cere_0716_articleimage_contThe Evolving View of Astrocytes

by Philip G. Haydon, Ph.D.

Scientists have found that one type of glial cell that is prevalent in the cortex—the astrocyte—may play a role in sleep, learning, and memory.  From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas.

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October 22: International Stuttering Awareness Day

More than three million people in the United States share the common experience of stuttering, a condition that disrupts the production of speech sounds (also known as “disfluencies”), according to the National Stuttering Association (NSA). Oftentimes developed during childhood, stuttering now affects more than 70 million people worldwide. Since 1998, October 22 has been regarded as “International Stuttering Awareness Day,” an opportunity for organizations such as NSA and the Stuttering Foundation to advocate for greater awareness around the stigmas and scientific progress that surround the fluency disorder.

In August, we published a news story, “Seeking Clues to Stuttering Deep Within the Brain,” which highlights the latest breakthroughs scientists have made with the help of neuroimaging technology. In the article, neuroscientist Soo-Eun Chang says:

Because very little was known about this complex disorder, there were wild theories…[Nowadays] there’s consensus among many researchers that stuttering is a neurodevelopmental disorder, not a psychiatric or emotional issue. With neuroimaging, we’ve just begun to find subtle differences in brain structure and function in those who stutter.

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