Fumiko Hoeft Receives SfN Science Educator Award

Fumiko Hoeft  (photo by Peter Morenus/UConn)

Each year, the Society for Neuroscience recognizes outstanding neuroscientists who have strongly added to public education and awareness about the field. The Dana Foundation sponsors these awards. This year’s award was presented to Fumiko Hoeft, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC) at the University of Connecticut and director of the Laboratory for Learning Engineering and Neural Systems (brainLENS.org) located at UConn/UCSF , during the society’s annual meeting, in San Diego, on Tuesday.

Q: Was it a conscious decision for you to do a lot of education and outreach, as well as research?

Dr. Hoeft: Yes. The experience of education and outreach is not so different than what we do as physicians. I always wanted to be a physician: In my elementary school graduation album I wrote, “I want to be a physician and help the underserved.” When I started research at Harvard, three years after graduating from medical school in Japan, I missed clinical work and interacting with people terribly. Continue reading

Learn about the Brain: Lesson Plans for Grades 6-8 Now Available

Lesson Plans.jpg

Photo: Shutterstock

For teachers who want to incorporate lessons about the brain into their classrooms, we have new and exciting lesson plans available on our website, which can be downloaded for free. Geared towards grades 6-8, each lesson plan comes with a PowerPoint presentation and includes a hands-on activity to get students as involved as possible in learning about the brain.

The first lesson, Design an Imaginary Animal, gives students a breakdown of how different animals’ brains are composed and why. Paired with our fact sheet How Does the Brain Work?, students go over basic neuroanatomy and are then split into groups of three to come up with their own imaginary animal, and build its brain using Play-Doh, enlarging parts of the brain that correlate to a heightened brain function. For example, animals with a strong sense of smell would have a large olfactory lobe.

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From the Archives: Some Brain Science for #VideoGamesDay

People are hungry for data about video games and the brain. One of our most popular stories, still consistently in the Top 10, is a longreads Cerebrum essay from back in 2009, “Video Games Affect the Brain—for Better and Worse.” Writer Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., concludes:

With the exception of educational games, most video games’ effects on brain and behavior are unintentional on the part of both the designers and the players. Nonetheless, research suggests that the effects are real. Video games are neither good nor bad. Rather, they are a powerful form of entertainment that does what good entertainment is supposed to do—it influences us.

In 2012, we followed up with a news story on research targeting more specific areas of cognition that might be affected by playing video games:

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An Observatory for the (Mouse) Brain

Guest post by Kayt Sukel 

Jérôme Lecoq prepares the OpenScope rig

Jérôme Lecoq prepares the OpenScope rig for an experiment. Image courtesy of Allen Institute for Brain Science

Any classic Star Trek fan worth their salt can easily summon the opening line for this beloved television show: “Space, the Final Frontier…” Now, the Allen Institute for Brain Science is trying to boldly go where no man—or lab—has gone before. It has announced OpenScope, a shared experimental program inviting neuroscientists around the globe to suggest studies and reap results using the Allen Brain Observatory, a standardized in vivo two-photon calcium imaging platform that investigates mouse visual cortex at the cellular level.

The project was inspired by astronomy observatories that share expensive equipment to help further advances in the field, says Jérôme Lecoq, Ph.D., senior manager of optical physiology at the Allen Institute. He and his colleagues consulted with researchers at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to better understand how they share resources successfully.

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