The Fast and the Curious: Science on Wheels

Brain Awareness Week just rolled into town—no, really. The BioBus, a New York City science lab on wheels, helped kick off this year’s Brain Awareness Week with a day of brainy crafts, mind-benders, and maximum magnification courtesy of the lab’s research-grade microscopes.

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Science enthusiasts get “hands-on” with human and sheep brains (center and bottom-right, respectively) in Manhattan’s historic Harlem, N.Y. March 9, 2019.

Brain Awareness Week is all about outreach, and the BioBus–with its solar-panels, lab equipment and Ph.D. cadre of scientists–is well equipped on its mission of bringing science exploration and the thrill of discovery to historically underrepresented communities. The organization lists its goal as helping “minority, female, and low-income K-12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science.” It should come as no surprise then, that the science and activities on-board are tailored to jump-start the spark of curiosity nascent in tomorrow’s scientists. Continue reading

Happy Brain Awareness Week!

logo_2019datesIt’s officially Brain Awareness Week starting today until Sunday, March 17, and people all over the world will be participating in activities about the brain! Every year, Brain Awareness Week partners organize events to educate people about the organ responsible for all that we are and all that we do.

Events are taking place in schools, concert halls, public plazas, cafes, museums, even on boats. If you are unable to make an in-person event, there are plenty of others in the virtual realm, including radio shows, television shows, and webinars. To find events in your area, visit the Brain Awareness Week Calendar of Events and search for your country and city (and state, if you are in the U.S.).

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Participants celebrate Brain Awareness Week 2018 at an event organized by Gaston College in Dallas, Texas.

Currently, there are over 680 events on the calendar, and even more will be added throughout the week. Some events listed will take place later in the month as well. If you are based in the New York City area, check out the braiNY calendar, organized by the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Continue reading

Four Stars: Who Are Movie Reviews For?

Watching a recommended movie is risky business. If the stars don’t align in your favor, you might find yourself nurturing a distrust of your source, forever altering conversations with friends and colleagues. Even when Oscar season rolls around, which should reliably provide lists of “good” movies, you might question if everyone sat through the same movie after scanning a few social media feeds. Does data science offer us evidence of something we might be missing?

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Pascal Wallisch, Ph.D.. Photo credit: Yadin Goldman

“There is a tremendous diversity in appraisal for any given movie,” said Pascal Wallisch, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor at NYU. “It’s actually quite striking.” Wallisch, seeking to measure the reliability of movie critics, gathered ratings from critics, aggregator sites (think Rotten Tomatoes and The Internet Movie Database (IMDB)) and a multi-year study with 3,000-participants. After determining the correlations of reviews from a pool of over 200 movies, he admits to being astonished—there was not a single film with any hint of a “moderate degree of agreement.”

“The Science of Movies,” presented by Wallisch and organized by Think&Drink NYC’s Gil Avidor, is a stimulating yet relaxed evening talk, suitably tailored to seekers of intelligent nightlife. Wallisch, whose research interests hone in on the intersection of psychology and neuroscience, extolled the virtues of finding your “movie twin,” bemoaned the scarcity of originality (ahem, creativity) in present-day Hollywood, and explained what happens to a brain exposed to a healthy dose of M. Night Shyamalan. Continue reading

AAAS and Learning & the Brain Conferences Coming Up

This weekend, Dana Foundation staff are heading to conferences on both coasts, and we hope to see you there!

In Washington, DC, we’ll be reporting and tweeting from the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting (#AAASmtg). While most events are members-only, at least four talks will be livestreamed, one a day Thursday through Sunday. Livestream should be here: https://meetings.aaas.org/attend/livestream/

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New York City’s 2019 Regional Brain Bee

Students from 23 schools across the five boroughs and Westchester County came together to test their smarts in the New York City Regional Brain Bee this past Saturday. Held in the Great Hall at The City College of New York, the 2019 competition concluded after eight rounds of five brain-related questions each, with the top three winners walking away with cash prizes, plaques, and the knowledge that they probably knew more about the brain than most of the audience.

From left: Bianca Jones Marlin, Ph.D. (judge), Daphna Shohamy, Ph.D. (moderator), Kelly Chan (first-place winner), Rainer Engelken, Ph.D. (judge), Nafew Mustafa (third-place winner), Amelia Korniyenko (second-place winner), Jerome Staal, Ph.D. (judge), and Kathleen Roina (BAW Director). Photo: Jacqueline Silberbush

“The New York City Regional Brain Bee competition is in celebration of Brain Awareness Week,” said Kathleen Roina, director of outreach and education at the Dana Foundation, in her welcoming remarks. “The global campaign was created by the Dana Alliance to advance public understanding about the brain and the promise of brain research.” The Brain Bee is just one of many Brain Awareness Week activities designed to help students become more interested and active in learning about the brain and the research surrounding it.

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