New York University’s Brain Day at NYU Langone Health took place on Tuesday, March 13th, as part of BraiNY and the Dana Foundation’s long-standing collaboration to celebrate Brain Awareness Week! The event included a Brain Fair in the Farkas breezeway, where booths provided information on the brain, displayed models of brains to examine, and, of course, presented some real brains to hold, too. For those looking for a challenge, there was “Brain Jeopardy” for visitors to test their knowledge of the brain. This year, there was even a 3-D printer creating model of brain cells, including a Purkinje cell, a type of neuron found in the cerebral cortex that releases a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)! Dana publications and materials were handed out to attendees, which included many high school students.
Guest post by Brandon Barrera
The night promises to unfurl a bit of mystery. A cryptic figure tells us there has been a crime–sort of. We will come to learn that there is, indeed, a victim but the crime is not one in the traditional sense. The crime scene is the brain and episodic memory-loss the perpetrator. We’re told that with a little sleuthing, we can get closer to the truth.
This dramatic performance is the Mark Kennedy-McClellan directed “The Talks Progress Administration: The Time Traveling Brain,” a staged talk brought to life at Caveat in New York City on Tuesday. One of many events showcased during Brain Awareness Week (BAW), the piece feels similar to a long form TED talk, mixed-in with interactive story-telling. Our narrator frequently steps off-stage and into her “lab” (see: audience) to ask questions about breakfast, to squirrel away treats among audience members, and even hand out glowsticks. All done in the name of science, to be sure, and it’s effective in creating fun, illuminating narration.
Daphna Shohamy, Ph.D., is more comfortable in her lab at Columbia University than on stage in front of an audience. So why did she agree to participate in the 2018 Brainwave series for a live discussion? Because art and science are more alike than they seem, she said, and she wanted to help explain that.
The series pairs accomplished professionals with neuroscientists for a themed discussion at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. When asked who she would like as a partner for the discussion on the relationship between narrative/storytelling and memory, Shohamy knew right away she wanted to be paired writer Nicole Krauss, author of New York Times bestselling books Great House and The History of Love, because writers truly “understand the force of memory.”
This is the second in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their experiences and tips for planning successful events. Cecilia M. Fox, Ph.D., is a professor of biological sciences and the director of the Neuroscience Program at Moravian College. She is also president of the Lehigh Valley Society for Neuroscience Chapter.
For several years, you’ve organized a film series during Brain Awareness Week. What topics have you explored and why do you think this type of event works well to engage the public?
Since I am a neuroscientist at a liberal arts institution, we deliberately plan our annual BAW Film and Seminar Series involving topics that bridge the humanities and sciences. We have offered programs focusing on themes such as The Art of Neuroscience, The Musical Brain, Brain Sex, and The Neuroscience Underlying Poverty and Inequality. By offering such broad topics, we can to make connections across disciplines and attract a more diverse audience. We publicize events through our Lehigh Valley SfN Chapter website and through local connections in colleges, public schools, public libraries and assisted living communities. We also ensure that our Brain Awareness Outreach Programs continue with this interdisciplinary thread. In addition to brain dissections, reflex testing, and EEG recordings, we offer “artsy” neuroscience related stations entitled “Dendritic Art,” “Lego Concussion Man,” and “Neuron Lanyards!”
What does every congressional district have in common? Baby Boomers – the sizable generation of people now in their 50s to 70s. It is well documented that the collective aging of the Boomers will have public health impacts. This includes the impacts of the aging brain. Come and learn what happens to the brain as we get older, what happens when the process goes wrong, and what we can do to strengthen the brain as we age.