A Wild and Brainy Night at the Museum

Last Thursday, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City hosted “Neuroscience Night: Wild, Wild Brains” during Brain Awareness Week in the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. The night was filled with interactive games and flash lectures (i.e., a series of talks no more than 30 minutes long) that showcased how our human brains compare to those of our animal counterparts, both present day and extinct.

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A packed lecture room: in the back of the Hall were lectures from three experts each focused on the study of animal brain evolution and behavior. The talks spanned topics such as bird brains, olfactory evolution in primates, and elephant behavior and cognition.

Amy Balanoff, Ph.D., who was one of the night’s guest speakers, presented her own research on the evolutionary history of the avian (or, bird) brain. She and her colleagues use endocasts to study the brains of non-avian dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx (the first known transition between dinosaurs and flying birds) and then compare those casts to the brains of modern-day birds. An endocast is a casting of a hollow space—in this case, a fossilized cranial bone, which Balanoff created using CT imaging. Continue reading

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science

It may be more than coincidence that the NYU Center for Data Science (CDS) chose to hold its Fifth Anniversary Celebration during Brain Awareness Week. The event, held in a well-appointed room at Vanderbilt Hall in New York City, opened with speeches by New York University’s new Vice Provost of Research Staci Grossman Bloom and new CDS Director Julia Kempe that focused on the importance of data science as a vital multi-disciplinary field and the enormous growth of the center in just five years.

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From left: Julia Kempe, Arthur Spirling, Yann LeCun, Daniel Sodickson, Julia Stoyanovich, and Brenden Lake. Photo courtesy of NYU CDS

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Brain Fairs for Brain Awareness Week

Brain Fairs for Brain Awareness Week

Prior to Brain Awareness Week, we encouraged you to watch our video on how to organize a successful brain fair, and now that Brain Awareness Week is here, we encourage you to see one in action! Across the globe, brain fairs—stations with activities and information about the brain set up at hospitals, universities, community centers, and more—are a popular activity for organizers and attendees alike. They’re a great way to share a range of brain science topics, while also drawing attention to the work or focus of the organizer.

In New York City this week, we have our pick of brain fairs to attend—so we’ve chosen to attend several of them! We offer some highlights in photos from the NYC brain fair scene.

BioBase Harlem at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute: Continue reading

The Fast and the Curious: Science on Wheels

Brain Awareness Week just rolled into town—no, really. The BioBus, a New York City science lab on wheels, helped kick off this year’s Brain Awareness Week with a day of brainy crafts, mind-benders, and maximum magnification courtesy of the lab’s research-grade microscopes.

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Science enthusiasts get “hands-on” with human and sheep brains (center and bottom-right, respectively) in Manhattan’s historic Harlem, N.Y. March 9, 2019.

Brain Awareness Week is all about outreach, and the BioBus–with its solar-panels, lab equipment and Ph.D. cadre of scientists–is well equipped on its mission of bringing science exploration and the thrill of discovery to historically underrepresented communities. The organization lists its goal as helping “minority, female, and low-income K-12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science.” It should come as no surprise then, that the science and activities on-board are tailored to jump-start the spark of curiosity nascent in tomorrow’s scientists. Continue reading

Happy Brain Awareness Week!

logo_2019datesIt’s officially Brain Awareness Week starting today until Sunday, March 17, and people all over the world will be participating in activities about the brain! Every year, Brain Awareness Week partners organize events to educate people about the organ responsible for all that we are and all that we do.

Events are taking place in schools, concert halls, public plazas, cafes, museums, even on boats. If you are unable to make an in-person event, there are plenty of others in the virtual realm, including radio shows, television shows, and webinars. To find events in your area, visit the Brain Awareness Week Calendar of Events and search for your country and city (and state, if you are in the U.S.).

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Participants celebrate Brain Awareness Week 2018 at an event organized by Gaston College in Dallas, Texas.

Currently, there are over 680 events on the calendar, and even more will be added throughout the week. Some events listed will take place later in the month as well. If you are based in the New York City area, check out the braiNY calendar, organized by the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Continue reading

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