From the Archives: Rita Levi-Montalcini

Levi-Montalcini_featDana Alliance member Piergiorgio Strata has just published “Rita Levi-Montalcini and her major contribution to neurobiology” in Rendiconti Lincei; its English version is open-access for reading via Springer Publishing. Its 17 pages are filled with family and science-family photos, including as she entered medical school and when she was awarded a Nobel Prize, and her major scientific collaborators, as well as classic illustrations of her work in neuroembryology and much more (she lived to age 103). Her personal story is inspiring—including doing seminal research at home during wartime in Italy after she was banned from entering formal research facilities because of her faith.

“Life does not end with death. What you pass on to others remains. Immortality is not the body, which will one day die. That does not matter… of importance is the message you leave to others,” said Levi-Montalcini, who was also a founding European Dana Alliance for the Brain member. We were working with her to publish a translation of her latest memoir into English when she died, in 2012. Continue reading

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

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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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Free Public Event on Autism

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Autism is a mysterious and puzzling disorder. In 1943, American child psychiatrist Leo Kanner first published a paper describing 11 children who were highly intelligent but displayed “a powerful desire for aloneness” and “an obsessive insistence on persistent sameness.” He called this condition “early infantile autism.” Prior to that time, people with autism were simply called insane. Autism is now officially known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and, while there is a wide variation in the nature and severity of its signs, people with ASD typically have difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. Continue reading

Eric Kandel is Alan Alda’s Podcast Guest

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Image courtesy of Alda Communication Training Co.

On the latest episode of the Clear + Vivid podcast, host Alan Alda, well-known actor, writer, and, in recent years, crusader of science outreach, sits down with old friend and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Eric R. Kandel, director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University and author of The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves. Kandel speaks to Alda about his work, the satisfaction of connecting with audiences, and fleeing Austria in the aftermath of its annexation to Nazi Germany.

The podcast focuses on communication and connection. It’s through conversations with individuals holding mastery in various fields that Alda guides the listener, stopping to appreciate peaks and valleys of the art form. In this, Alda and Nobel Laureate Kandel find and sustain a relaxed stride, offering listeners morsels of wisdom: The importance of being mindful of your audience, focusing on one person and changing your approach based on their responses (favorable or not); the role of laughter in forming connections; and the delicate dance of simplifying your ideas to a lay audience without treading on and distorting the science. Continue reading

Neuroscience Outreach Champions Honored at the FENS Forum 2018 in Berlin

Today, Roland Pochet, Laura López-Mascaraque, and Université Côte d’Azur were awarded prestigious prizes for their contribution to advancing public education and awareness about the progress and promise of brain research. The awards are sponsored by the Dana Foundation and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB), in partnership with the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), and were presented at the 11th FENS Forum in Berlin.

“Reaching out to the public and sharing their passion for neuroscience research is one of the mandates that every neuroscientist should include in her or his activities,” said Pierre Magistretti, vice chairman of EDAB and past-president of FENS. “The recipients of the Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Awards exemplify such commitment. They have excelled in organizing public events at all levels of society, from primary and high school students to the general public to members of parliament. The commitment and achievements of the awardees reflect the mission of the Dana Foundation and EDAB and the engagement they have provided for more than two decades to support public understanding of neuroscience at the international level.”

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Pochet (second from left) and others speak at the European Parliament

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