Coben Reveals Secrets to Success

A recent Brainwave program focused on a best-selling author’s approach to writing thrillers. The featured guest was Harlan Coben, the 56-year-old author of 30 novels (seven New York Times No. 1 bestsellers) and a Jersey guy with a shaved head and a keen sense of humor. Matching wits and finding neuroscience angles was David Eagleman, the Stanford University-based author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, and the writer and host of the Emmy-nominated PBS television series The Brain.

The Rubin Museum in New York City advertised the science of suspense as the program’s theme, but the conversation covered any number of areas that a writer of thrillers considers: memory, empathy, manipulation, human nature, and consciousness, to name a few.

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Coben explained that he helped jumpstart his thought process for his next book by sitting and observing people in Strawberry Fields in Central Park for three days.

Coben’s stories almost always contain woods and basketball and are set in North Jersey, where he lives (Ridgewood) with his pediatrician wife and two dogs. Growing up in a loud, Jewish home in Livingston, he said storytelling was essential to be heard at the dinner table. Even with four children, he says he still thinks of himself as a 17-year-old who is waiting for his life to begin. He believes that every individual has their own compelling story to tell and, in discussing human nature, said with a twinge of sarcasm, “We think we are uniquely complex, and no one knows what is really going on inside us. At the same time, we all think we are very good at reading the thoughts of others.”

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Exploring the Personal Side of Science

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A collegiate swim team, uncontrollable diarrhea, an uncle’s drum solo, green Jell-O, and getting lost in the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, may seem like unlikely elements at a Brain Awareness Week event. But not at the annual “Studying the Brain: A Storytelling Event hosted by The Friedman Brain Institute,” which highlights personal stories from Mount Sinai students, fellows, and professors. Five brainy participants stepped out of the lab and classroom and onto the stage of El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 in Manhattan, to share real life events that unexpectedly influenced their scientific journeys. Paula Croxson, assistant professor of neuroscience and psychiatry and the 2018 SfN Science Educator Award recipient, and Casey Lardner, Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience, hosted the BraiNY event.

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#Brainweek: Our Sensational Brain

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Brain props at the AMNH for a fun photo opportunity and to get in the spirit of celebrating the brain during Neuroscience Night: Our Sensational Brain.

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City presented “Neuroscience Night: Our Sensational Brain” last Thursday night in celebration of Brain Awareness Week. Using interactive activities, the event showcased the astounding capabilities of the human brain and the how it works in concert with our senses to interpret the world around us.

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The Story Collider: Brain Awareness Edition

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Photo credit: Heather McKellar

The ethos of the Story Collider is this: Science touches every part of our lives. It surrounds us, whether we notice it or not. Now in its eighth year, the live storytelling show travels to cities across the US (and soon the UK) to bring personal tales of science to the public through narratives that can be heartbreaking or hilarious. Though the theme sounds strictly academic, it’s everything but. Featured storytellers have included actors, physicists, comedians, writers, and, of course, neuroscientists. But the point of the story is not to educate, as the show’s artistic director Erin Barker reiterated at Tuesday’s show at Caveat in New York City.

Rather than tell the audience what to expect from the show, co-hosts Barker and Paula Croxson bantered and told us what not to expect: “You will not hear any lectures, or seminars. You will not see any PowerPoint presentations. In fact, you won’t learn anything at all tonight… That is the first rule of Story Collider.” The show did have a theme, however, given its partnership with braiNY, the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, and with Brain Awareness Week (March 12-18) just around the corner: All five storytellers in the lineup had to share a true story involving the brain.

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Two Successful Aging & Your Brain Programs in NYC

MemoryAre you interested in learning about the brain and living a brain-healthy lifestyle as you age? Do you live in New York City? Then look no further, there are two free Successful Aging & Your Brain programs on Tuesday, March 13th!

Both programs begin with discussions on memory, normal age-related changes in the brain, brain diseases and disorders, and tips for keeping the brain healthy as we age, followed by an audience Q&A session.

NYU Langone Health

The first program is from 2 to 4 pm at NYU Langone Health’s Alumni Hall B at 550 First Avenue at 32nd Street. A panel will feature three experts from NYU Langone’s Center for Cognitive Neurology: Andreia Godinho De Andrade, Sonja Blum, and Elkhonon Goldberg. Jyoti Patel, research assistant professor in the department of neurosurgery at NYU Langone, will moderate the panel.

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