#WSF18: Harnessing the Power of Neuroplasticity

The World Science Festival in New York City, now in its 11th year, offers fascinating talks on a variety of science disciplines, and notably for us, neuroscience. At last week’s talk on neuroplasticity, we heard from neurobiologist and Dana Alliance member Carla Shatz, developmental psychologist and Dana Alliance member Nim Tottenham, and neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone. Moderated by neurosurgeon Guy McKhann, the discussion included what neuroplasticity is and why it’s important, critical periods of development in the brain, and the possibility of accessing it later in life for cognitive enhancement.

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From left: Guy McKhann, Carla Shatz, Nim Tottenham, Alvaro Pascual-Leone. Photo: World Science Festival/Greg Kessler

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Tips to Get Moving for National Senior Health and Fitness Day!

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Image: Shutterstock

Whether you’re already physically active or looking to get started, today is a great day to get moving! It’s the 25th anniversary of Senior Health & Fitness Day, the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for older adults. More than 1,000 local organizations in all 50 states are hosting activities such as fitness walks, low-impact exercises, health screenings, health information workshops, and more.

While exercise has benefits for the whole body, it is especially important for your brain as you age. Experts from the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), a collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars, and policy experts who focus on brain heath and aging, agreed in a report that people who exercise “show beneficial changes in brain structure and function” and “have lower risk of cognitive decline.” Physical activity can make positive changes in our brains that will keep us sharp into old age.

The experts at GCBH also outlined the following guidelines for anyone looking to improve their level of physical activity and keep it enjoyable:

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Successful Aging & Your Brain at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

After an inaugural, successful, and sold-out program last September, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan partnered with the Dana Foundation once again to present Successful Aging & Your Brain (SA&YB) Tuesday evening—this time in celebration of Brain Awareness Week!

Speaker Matthew Fink, M.D., Neurologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbysterian and chairman, neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, has participated as a panelist for SA&YB programs multiple times and has also frequently spoken at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. He discussed brain function, changes in the brain as we age, memory, brain diseases and disorders, and maximizing brain function and health.

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2018 Brain Day at NYU

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Photo: Heather McKellar

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.

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Two Successful Aging & Your Brain Programs in NYC

MemoryAre you interested in learning about the brain and living a brain-healthy lifestyle as you age? Do you live in New York City? Then look no further, there are two free Successful Aging & Your Brain programs on Tuesday, March 13th!

Both programs begin with discussions on memory, normal age-related changes in the brain, brain diseases and disorders, and tips for keeping the brain healthy as we age, followed by an audience Q&A session.

NYU Langone Health

The first program is from 2 to 4 pm at NYU Langone Health’s Alumni Hall B at 550 First Avenue at 32nd Street. A panel will feature three experts from NYU Langone’s Center for Cognitive Neurology: Andreia Godinho De Andrade, Sonja Blum, and Elkhonon Goldberg. Jyoti Patel, research assistant professor in the department of neurosurgery at NYU Langone, will moderate the panel.

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