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.

Community Neuroscience: How to Teach Brain Science to Kids

In the newest episode of our “Community Neuroscience” video series, Eric Chudler, Ph.D., offers his advice on how to make neuroscience fun and engaging to young kids. Chudler is executive director of the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington, where he conducts research related to how the brain processes information from the senses. Outside of the lab, he works with teachers to develop educational materials to help K-12 students learn about the brain and its functions and has been involved in neuroscience outreach for more than 20 years.

In addition to his longtime running Neuroscience For Kids website, Chudler’s most recent outreach endeavor is a video series called “BrainWorks” (produced with partner support from the Dana Foundation). The second episode, on exercise and the brain, landed him a Northwest Emmy Award!


Check back for next week’s episode, featuring two outreach all-stars from the west coast who created their own robust, neuroscience non-profit to excite young people about science, art, and learning about the brain.

Community Neuroscience: How to Organize a Brain Fair

The second episode of our new “Community Neuroscience” series is now up on the Dana Foundation YouTube channel! In this video, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Michael Burman, Ph.D., offers tips on how to organize a successful brain fair for the public. Burman is an associate professor at the University of New England (UNE), as well as Neuroscience K-12 Outreach Coordinator at its Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences.

Over the years, Burman has helped lead public outreach efforts to inspire his community about the brain. The hallmark activity at UNE is their annual Brain Fair, where more than 600 kids, teens, and adults can take part in interactive exhibits to learn about memory, the senses, addiction, brain injuries, and more. You can read more about him and his approach in this past Dana Foundation blog interview.


Stay tuned for next week’s video, which will feature an Emmy-award winning guest with advice on how to talk about neuroscience to elementary school kids.

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

And All That Jazz: A Q&A with Michael Shadlen, M.D., Ph.D.

Guest post by Kayt Sukel 

Famed artist Barbara Januszkiewicz once said, “Jazz is the art of thinking out loud.” Is it any wonder then that jazz has made its way into a variety of neuroscience laboratories to help researchers investigate the neural underpinnings of creativity, communication, and timing?

In honor of International Jazz Day, a day designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to celebrate jazz’ ability to connect people from all over the globe, Michael Shadlen, M.D., Ph.D. , a neurologist at Columbia University (and jazz guitar player), shares his thoughts about jazz, timing, and the celebration of what our brains do each and every day in the service of cognition.

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Photo: Michael Shadlen

You are a jazz guitarist. What first got you interested in playing jazz music?

MS: I’ve always been interested in music. When I was younger, I played the violin. Later, I switched to guitar—mainly because my violin teacher wanted me to choose between basketball, girls, and violin. So I switched to guitar. I played in a rock band for a long time doing covers. We had the Bar Mitzvah circuit down!

But the drummer in our band was in the jazz band in high school. And he turned me on to it. We’d go to this amazing café called Amazing Grace in Evanston, Illinois. They had mostly folk music but also a lot of jazz acts. I remember seeing Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, and all kinds of amazing artists play there. It was pretty spectacular.

Continue reading

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