SfN18 Celebrates Brain Awareness

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With this year’s Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting now in full swing, downtown San Diego couldn’t be more bustling. Everywhere you turn, street signs, store windows, and flyers read “Neuroscience 2018” to encourage visitors to check out at least one of the many events happening at the San Diego Convention Center.

Helping to kick off the meeting on Saturday was the Brain Awareness Campaign reception and poster presentation. Alongside the reception stage, shared by numerous Brain Awareness Week “influencers,” were aisles lined with more than 40 colorful poster boards created largely by neuroscientists at various stages of their careers to showcase their neuroscience outreach initiatives.

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SfN18: Pat Metheny at Dialogues Lecture

Based on past experience at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting, I thought I could just stroll into the opening Dialogues lecture a few minutes before it began and park myself just about anywhere. After all, there are about 5,000 seats in the San Diego Convention Center’s massive ballroom, and there were always open seats in past years. But not this year.

That’s because Pat Metheny, one of the world’s best-known jazz composers, guitar players, and band leaders—someone who mostly lets his music do the talking—was the featured guest at “Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society: Music and the Brain.”

After finally finding a seat all the way in the right corner, I watched on a screen as SfN President Richard Huganir and ear surgeon Charles Limb, former colleagues at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (Limb has since moved to UCSF), moderated the program with passion and experience. Both spun personal, humorous anecdotes about the impact that Metheny’s music has had on their lives.

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Neuroscientists Heading to San Diego This Week – and So Are We

We’re heading off to attend the Society for Neuroscience’s Annual Meeting, Neuroscience 2018, which starts on Saturday in San Diego. More than 30,000 neuroscientists and their friends will converge on the San Diego Convention Center–a city’s worth of brain-lovers! Before SfN’s official start, we’ll also be taking in the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS), held at the San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Boulevard. Stay tuned for posts and photos and more from both events.

Here’s some of what we’re looking forward to. **NOTE: If you’re nearby, three of the events I’ve listed (the ones with boldface type) are free and open to the public—come by and say hi! **

Thursday, Nov. 1

ins horizontalWe’ll be at the whole day of INS events at San Diego Central Library, with topics including digitally decoding brain and behavior, managing neuroinformation to protect identity, and deep brain stimulation and sense of self. Follow along via Twitter hashtags #neuroethics and  #INS2018.

5:30 pm to 7 pm (Pacific time): “My Brain Made Me Buy It: The Neuroethics of Advertising,” a public forum opened by Carl Marci, who will describe how advertising techniques based on big data are challenging social and ethical boundaries. Then he’ll join researchers Read Montague, Uma Karmarker, and Steve Hyman in deeper discussion. Come on by if you’re in the area: This event, part of the INS meeting at San Diego Central Library, is free, but please register. (There will be a short reception afterward.) Continue reading

Sound Health: Shaping Our Children’s Lives Through Music Engagement

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For the second year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts spent a weekend exploring the connections between music, the brain, and humanity. A piece of their ongoing “Sound Health” partnership, the events at the Center this past weekend focused on how important the arts are to children’s development, both experiencing art and practicing and producing it. [See also our report and KC videos from last year’s event.]

The idea partnership came up in conversations between NIH director Francis Collins and renowned soprano and Kennedy Center artistic advisor Renée Fleming, and they led the chorus of brain experts and musical prodigies starting with a conversation and concert on Friday. Collins also announced a new program that will soon offer $5 million in research grants to study the effects of the arts on the brain, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

All the Saturday events are available as webcasts—including a drumming circle led by Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart! They are all worth a watch or two, with engaging scientists talking interspersed with great musicians performing. Together they add up to more than seven hours, so take your time. Many have small sections where the audience can participate; if you really want to get your rhythm on, jump down to the Interactive Drum Circle recording and have at it for a good 60 minutes.

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A Guide to Pursuing a Neuroscience Career

The Dana Foundation promotes a lot of resources designed for young students in hopes of inspiring them to want to learn more about the brain as they move up the ranks of grade school. But what if you’ve already been inspired and are now looking for practical ways to prepare for a neuroscience career? While there is certainly no “one way” to achieve this, we want to share a few resources that can help point you in the right direction.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) recently published an article on BrainFacts.org (a great resource in itself) with tips for students on how to jumpstart a career in neuroscience. Here are just a few points mentioned:

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