Bringing Consciousness to the Stage

An ongoing challenge in brain research is trying to understand how neuro-activity creates consciousness or the awareness of one’s self.  For example, we don’t understand how the brain creates colors and or why individuals process smell differently. Your favorite color is blue; mine is green. You hate even a sniff of gasoline, but I enjoy it. These are the hard problems of neuroscience and philosophy that we haven’t made a great deal of progress on.

Enter Baba Brinkman, a performance artist who has taken on explaining what makes our brains tick using words and images. His one-man, somewhat interactive show, “Rap Guide to Consciousness,” at the SoHo Playhouse through the middle of May, fuses hip-hop, humor, and neuroscience together in a 90-minute multi-media presentation that attempts to explain complex topics such as free will, artificial intelligence, the effects of psychedelic drugs, Bayesian probability, the presence or absence of thoughts in infants and animals, and much more.

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Heather Berlin, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, gains insight into her husband’s brain. He created Rap Guide to Consciousness, now playing at the SoHo Playhouse in Manhattan.

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2018 Brain Awareness Impact Stories

BAW-generalToday is the first day of Brain Awareness Week and we couldn’t be more thrilled with our partners’ commitment to educating the public about the importance of brain research in our daily lives.

Earlier this year, we spotlighted three exceptional partners on our blog, and now the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) is doing something similar. This week, they’ll feature “Brain Awareness Impact Stories” from their Global Advocacy Initiative seed grant awardees “who have made important impacts in their local communities.”

Visit their website or follow them on Facebook to read these compelling stories, which begin in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. This piece highlights the efforts of neurophysiologist Luis Beltran-Parrazal to address a local public health crisis as the result of a hereditary disease of the central nervous system, spinocerebellar ataxia type 7.

Brain in the News

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Image: Shutterstock

Are you subscribed to Brain in the News? Our free, monthly periodical has been circulating around the globe by the tens of thousands since 1994, keeping readers up to date with trending stories in the field of neuroscience.

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Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of contributions from people from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As part of our global outreach about brain science and health, we have a number of resources for adults and kids available in Spanish, now conveniently available on one page.

You’ll find the Spanish language version of our award-winning PSA video on how to live a brain healthy life, and the four steps to keep your brain working well as you grow older. We also have the Successful Aging & Your Brain booklet available to download for free in Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. For more on that topic, you can watch a recap of our March 2017 Healthy Brain in a Healthy Body event, where we partnered with Telemundo.

We also offer downloadable materials, such as fact sheets and Q&A pages, for kids in grades K-12. These can all be found on our page dedicated to Spanish publications.

For more on Hispanic Heritage Month, visit https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/.

– Blayne Jeffries

2017 Brain Awareness Video Contest Winners

The winners of the 2017 Brain Awareness Video Contest have been announced! Every year, the Society of Neuroscience (SfN) hosts the Brain Awareness Video Contest that anyone can enter by working with an SfN member to produce an educational video on the brain. The topics are broad and the execution of the videos diverse and creative.

The first place winner, Alison Caldwell, uses her video to answer the question, “What Are Optogenetics?” In the video, she discusses how scientists can “control” the brain using light by manipulating neurons’ action potential–the key to how neurons communicate. Discoveries using optogenetics range from better understanding how the brain processes time to figuring out some of the circuits involved in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. [Read more about this exciting field in our news article and Capitol Hill Briefing video, both from 2015.]


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