Two Speakers Examine Mental Health

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Flying University is a speakeasy-style lecture series featuring storytellers, experts, professors, and comedians shining a light on ideas, people, science, and moments in history that have been erased or overlooked. On Tuesday night, the series presented “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” an intimate look at the people and mechanisms behind mental health diagnoses.

The program was held in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week at Caveat in Manhattan.  Suzanne Garrison, a licensed therapist and art therapist, explained how she evaluates patients, one of whom was the host, Chinisha S. The therapist explained that she analyzes a patient to find the healthy, well-functioning part of that person. She then nurtures that part, which leads to a better understanding of their repressed feelings and motivations. Garrison compared the mind to an iceberg: the small part above water is the part of our consciousness, but the larger chunk under water is the part of our subconscious. But the latter is what drives the whole iceberg. Like the two parts of the iceberg, her goal is to make the unconscious conscious and to help clients better know their feelings and free themselves from feelings of shame or guilt. Continue reading

Free Brain Awareness Week Handouts and Resources

Now in its 24th year, Brain Awareness Week  (March 11-17) is rapidly approaching, and this is the time for partners (and everyone) to take advantage of the free downloadable materials we have available on dana.org. Our printable fact sheets and puzzles make great handouts during this week-long celebration of the brain, as well for other neuroscience outreach events throughout the year. Our lesson plans offer ready-made activities for the classroom, to help inspire the next generation of neuroscientists. 

In one of our lesson plans, you can learn about neurotransmission, while also making neurons out of pipe-cleaners!

On our Fact Sheets page, you’ll find information for adults on neuroscience topics including stroke, neurotransmission, the senses, learning and memory, neurodegenerative diseases, mental illness, addiction, and more. Our fact sheets for Kids cover topics such as how the brain works, exercise and the brain, brain development, and addiction. Most of these materials are also available in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German.
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Huntington’s Disease on the Mind

On the Mind” is a series that aims to demystify biological disorders and give a platform to patients; at last week’s event at New York’s Caveat, the focus was on Huntington’s disease (HD), a slowly progressive, hereditary neurodegenerative disorder that causes cognitive, psychiatric, and motor problems. The evening’s program had three parts: the scientific story of HD, dance performances inspired by HD, and the personal story of Justin Goldberg, whose father has HD and who is himself at risk for the disease.

Approximately 30,000 people in the US are living with HD and another 200,000 are at risk, with diagnosis usually occurring when a person reaches his or her early 40s and begins to exhibit motor symptoms, said Leora Fox, Ph.D., manager of mission and research programs at the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Presently, there are no treatments that can slow or stop Huntington’s disease.

Leora Fox discusses brain cell loss in people with HD

Everyone has two copies of the huntingtin gene (one from each parent), she explained, and the existing hypothesis is that the disease is caused by a mutation on the gene that gives instructions to produce a toxic huntingtin protein (“DNA makes RNA makes protein”), which eventually leads to death of brain cells. The logical solution therefore seems to be: “Lower the amount of huntingtin in the brain,” she said.

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Laugh Out Loud Neuroscience

Contrary to popular belief, scientists are just like the rest of us. They complain about their jobs, they like to joke around, and they tend to tell anyone who will listen about their work. Shannon Odell, a neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at Weill Cornell Medicine, writes and stars in “Your Brain On [Blank]” videos, a series that combines comedy and neuroscience to dispel the myth that her brainy teachers and classmates are not fundamentally different from anyone else.

The videos are produced by Inverse, a San Francisco-based digital media company that covers topics such as technology, science, and culture. The company’s website says that Odell’s series has received 75 million hits, including more than 400,000 through Facebook alone.

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Glossary of Brain Science Terms

Do you enjoy reading about the brain, but occasionally run into a neuroscience term you don’t know or that sounds familiar, but you just can’t quite put your finger on its meaning? The Dana Foundation’s Glossary of Key Brain Science Terms is a handy companion for those instances.

brain_glossary_cover_imgWant to know the difference between explicit and implicit memory? We’ve got you covered. Aren’t quite sure what brain plasticity means? We offer a concise explanation.

The Glossary has more than 150 defined terms and can be bookmarked on your computer for easy reference or printed to have on hand.

We hope you find it useful!

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