2017 NYC Regional Brain Bee Champions

For the first-place winner of this year’s Regional Brain Bee, biology was always the high school senior’s favorite subject in school. But it wasn’t until she was 14 years old that Winsome Ching narrowed her focus to neuroscience. After visiting a museum celebrating Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud in Vienna, Ching was “hooked” by his theories on the brain, she says. Since then, she has transitioned from Freud’s psychoanalyses to the biological aspects of brain function.

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Ching’s passion for neuroscience shined through at the Brain Bee this past Saturday, along with her peers from 33 high schools spanning across Long Island, Westchester County, and New York City’s five boroughs. Half of Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall was filled by a grid of white tables, adorned with the students’ name cards, directly facing the judges’ table; the other half was bustling with family members, friends, and teachers all gathered to cheer on the participating students. In the time before the competition began, students were scattered throughout the auditorium for one last chance to review notes and textbook chapters on the brain. Once all participants checked in, the competition began.

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Brain Awareness Week 2017: New Downloadable Materials

Brain Awareness Week 2017 (March 13-19) is approaching and new materials are now available for both adults and kids on the Brain Awareness Week (BAW) website! The fact sheets are easy for BAW partners to print and distribute and provide an easy way to disseminate concise information on the brain to a broad audience. The Dana Alliance’s newly translated materials are particularly useful for international BAW partners.

Brain Briefs on “The Senses” (“Vision”, “Hearing” and “Smell & Taste”) are now available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German on the Downloadable Materials for Adults page! They provide information on how the senses work, how perception happens at the neurological level, and address problems that can arise, such as hearing loss from loud noises, vision loss in the aging eye, and decline in smell and taste as we age and due to illness. In addition, there are fact sheets that answer common questions about the brain based on Q&A: Answering Your Questions About the Brain translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German. There are also three new versions of the new “What is Brain Awareness Week?” animation, featuring translations in French, Portuguese, and Spanish:

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New Paper: Incorporating Sex Influences into Today’s Brain Research

Historically, most medical research has used male subjects (human and animal) and tissues, but recently there has been a notable increase in the acceptance of the need to incorporate sex influences into brain research. in 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandated that all future biomedical research funded by the agency include sex differences.

But two years after the NIH passed its mandate, the research community continues to debate how best to address sex as a biological variable.

Why not just introduce female subjects to the studies, you might wonder, but it’s not that simple, as Jill Goldstein, director of research at the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains in our new briefing paper:

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Sleep Disorders as Prologue to Disease: From the Archives

What a (incremental) difference seven years make. In 2009, when we wrote about Dana Alliance member David Holtzman’s work, the headline was “Could Sleep Disorders Contribute to Alzheimer’s?” This month, Scientific American describes the work he and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are doing using the headline “Why Sleep Disorders May Precede Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.” We’ve gone from “maybe take a look” to “what’s the mechanism” on evidence for a link between sleep troubles and risk for neurodegenerative disorders has come.

Scientific American’s Simon Makin calls the Holtzman lab’s 2009 discovery the “best evidence for a causal relationship” From our story:

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New Brain Connections

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Part of the Dana Foundation’s mission of educating the public with the latest in neuroscience research involves providing a better understanding of the brain and its functions. Brain Connections is a newly refashioned feature of the Foundation’s website, where you can find answers to your questions about common neurological diseases and disorders.

The page currently offers validated resources for 30 common brain diseases, and links to sites that have been reviewed by our scientific advisors. Brain Connections is suitable for students, educators, families, and caregivers, as well as patients experiencing any of the listed conditions.

Visitors can find:

  • Descriptions of conditions
  • FAQs
  • Background for speaking with physicians
  • Treatment options
  • Support information for families and caregivers
  • Organization contacts
  • Sources for more information

Our knowledge about the brain is constantly progressing as science and technology advance, so it’s important to stay well-informed. The information provided in Brain Connections is not a substitute for medical advice, however. So be sure to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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