As editor of Cerebrum, the online neuroscience journal for The Dana Foundation, a primary function of my role is to invite some of the world’s top neuroscientists to write articles (with citations) to explain the latest developments in their specialty areas to lay readers. If they agree to the assignment, I encourage them to use conversational language, anecdotes, storytelling, and their own voice in communicating what are often complex and hard-to-explain topics: tau protein, grid cells, circadian rhythm, and stem cells—to name just a few. Sometimes they get it; more often they do not.
That’s a huge part of the reason I was so captivated by Alan Alda’s recent lecture at Columbia University. Alda is on a mission to make science as accessible to the public as baseball or bacon. His lecture, entitled “Getting Behind a Blind Date with Science,” was co- sponsored by Dana and the Kavli Foundation, with introductory remarks by Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, Ph.D., co-director of the university’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.