Visit BrainFacts.org

If you follow our blog, you’re no doubt familiar with the print and video resources we offer about the brain. In this blog, we wanted to take a moment to recognize the wonderful offerings you can find on the website of a key Brain Awareness Week partner, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

On the newly relaunched BrainFacts.org, you can find a beginner’s guide to the brain and nervous system. Under eight neuroscience “core concepts,” you’ll receive an overview on everything from how neurons communicate, to the source of curiosity. A short (under two-minute) video accompanies each concept, along with an interactive activity and related reading.

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Credit: The Society for Neuroscience

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Music and the Arts Promote Heathy Cognitive Function

A session entitled “Arts, Music, and the Brain: How the Arts Influence Us from Youth to Maturity” drew a standing room only crowd in a late afternoon session on Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Four speakers came at the topic from slightly different angles. The common denominator: In addition to anecdotal evidence and common sense, improved imaging and sound wave technology has helped neuroscientists demonstrate that arts and music boost cognitive function across social economic class, age, gender, and ethnicity.

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Closing the Language Skills Gap Among Children

Here’s the full video from the latest #neuroseries forum, in September; it was so rich in data and ideas that I watched it twice before writing a story about the event for our website. One of my favorite parts is researcher Anne Fernald’s’s description and video showing how fast language-processing speed improves from when a child is 18 months old to when he is 30 months old. Not only is it an easy-to-follow example of how to test language ability in preverbal children, but I love the boy’s attitude when he knows he’s got it right.

I have the short clip with my story; in this video it starts at the 15:05 mark.

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Closing the Language Skills Gap Among Children

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Credit: Shutterstock

Many children are at a disadvantage even before they walk into an early Head Start or pre-K program. Research indicates that children from families of low socioeconomic status (SES) have fallen more than six months behind their more advantaged cohorts in language processing and proficiency skills by the time they are two years old. And this deficiency continues to grow. It is apparent that this language gap has profound and lifelong outcomes, not only in “making the grade,” but in self-esteem and behavior. Brain research is helping scientists better understand the neural mechanisms underlying language processing in infants and young children, as well as the social interactions necessary for honing those skills. What do we know and what can be done to mitigate the long-term effects of this deficit? Learn more about the latest research, the emerging “home training for parents,” and the policy issues surrounding this disparity at the free Neuroscience and Society event, “Closing the Language Skills Gap Among Children: It’s Never Too Soon to Start.”

When:
September 28, 2016
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM Eastern Time

Where:
AAAS Headquarters
1200 New York Avenue NW
Washington, District of Columbia

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Pints and Plasticity

On Tuesday afternoon in New York City, science enthusiasts gathered at Ryan’s Daughter, a bar on the upper east side. It is also one of the many locations of “A Pint of Science,” an annual science festival that takes place for three days in May, in various locations around the country. The premise of the festival is to give adults an outlet for learning about science in a fun and casual environment.

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The evening’s focus was on brain plasticity, which is the brains ability to adapt and change throughout life. Chiye Aoki, professor of neural science and biology at NYU, explained her work concerning learning and synapse formation. Synapses play a role in the connectivity of neurons. Synapse formation happens throughout life, and is a key component in learning.

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