Science Communication: Dana Resources

In the past decade, I’ve seen more and more scientists step outside their labs—or invite people in—to share how science affects our daily lives and why basic and translational research is important. Spreading the science love isn’t just the purview of reporters and PR people anymore, and interest is high.

Groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have included plenty of sessions on science communication in past years, including workshops to help researchers hone their “elevator pitches” and find compelling stories in their data. In 2017, both the International Neuroethics Society and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) included scicomm sessions during their annual meetings. I couldn’t even get into one of the workshops at SfN because it was so popular the room was already packed before the session started, with a standby line down the hall! (See also video of SfN’s 2017 “Dialogues” chat, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and physician Siddartha Mukherjee chatting with SfN President Eric Nestler about “the excitement and importance of communicating the promise of scientific inquiry to the public.”)

Since part of the Dana Foundation’s mission is educating the public in a responsible manner about brain science and the potential of research, we’re glad to see this trend. Here are a few of our resources to help you reach out.

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From the Archives: Circadian Rhythms

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Image: Shutterstock

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded to three men who did basic research, discovering molecular mechanisms that control the circadian rhythm. The discoveries by Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young “explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions,” write the Nobel committee.

They and other researchers have continued to add details to our understanding of this critical system. In a story for Cerebrum in 2014, Paolo Sassone-Corsi described two relatively new areas of research: circadian genomics and epigenomics:

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From the Archives: What “Neuroeducation” Needs

We have long been interested in education and the arts, and a decade ago we funded a series of pilot studies to look for ways to measure whether training in the arts changed the brain in ways that would transfer to other cognitive abilities. In 2009, we published the results of our Arts and Cognition Consortium—nine investigators at seven major universities, who found tentative signs of benefits, including transfer, that they continue to pursue.

In May 2009, we helped support The Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s hosting of the inaugural Learning, Arts, and the Brain Summit, “to explore the intersection of cognitive neuroscience, the arts, and learning.” Some of our consortium scientists presented their research, and more than 300 educators, scientists, school administrators, and policy makers shared their perspectives on how to get a handle on this rather new amalgam, “neuro-education.”

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From the Archives: Valentine Reading List

Since talk of love is all the rage this week, let’s look back at a few of our past articles on love and attachment. First up is a Cerebrum essay by Rutgers anthropologist Helen Fisher that — after 15 years — is still on our Top 10 list of most-popular pages on dana.org.

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Image: Beatriz Gascon J/Shutterstock

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From the Archives and Beyond: The Dancing Brain

lab-solo-20040117Economist Ivar Hagendoorn’s fascination with dance led to a decade of neuroscience research, described in his 2003 essay in our Cerebrum journal. In  “The Dancing Brain” he argues that while it is the limbs that move, it is the brain that is dancing:

Reading and thinking for several years about what we find interesting when we watch someone dance brought me no closer to understanding what I saw on stage. At some point it struck me that this was the wrong track. Everything we see, hear, feel and do is mediated by the brain. To understand what fascinated and literally moved me in watching dance, we have to look to the brain.

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