Brain Awareness Week 2018

Guest post by Urooj Ansari, Social Media Chair at Be Brainy NYC

In 2012, Be Brainy NYC, the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, held its first Brain Awareness Week. Launched by Ho Yu of Columbia University, the chapter was expanded by Heather McKellar of NYU, Paula Croxson of Mount Sinai, Kelley Remole of Columbia University, Ted Altschuler of Baruch College, and Heather Bowling, formerly of NYU. The earliest members, graduate school friends and colleagues from their respective institutions, met at the Dana Foundation’s office to organize their first events.

brainyguestblog1

Six years later, Be Brainy NYC is still true to its original mission of bringing brain science to the public. With a variety of events beginning next week, individuals from every age group and background imaginable will find activities in the city where they can learn about the squishy two-pound mass encased within their skulls.

One of the first events this year, and the newest one on the calendar, is the “Rap Guide to Consciousness.” With the use of hip hop comedy, “peer-reviewed rapper” Baba Brinkman will explore consciousness in an event for adults. The show will be held every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night through April at the Soho Playhouse.

Continue reading

The Science of Autism is the Story of Real People

Guest post by Ted Altschuler, Ph.D.

Ruth had stopped doubting herself the morning she saw Joe do a jigsaw puzzle upside down. For some time, she had been nagged by a feeling that he was not like her other children in some crucial way. Six months earlier, Joe had stopped speaking, even though, up to that point, he had seemed to be developing normally…

And then there were these puzzles. He was working on one just then, a map of the United States whose parts were sprawled, like him, all over the kitchen floor and through the doorway into the living room. He was getting it done: New Hampshire met Maine, and New Mexico snapped in next to Arizona. But he was getting it done fast, almost too fast, Ruth felt, for a two-year-old. On a hunch, she knelt down to Joe’s level and pulled the map apart, scattering the pieces. She also, deliberately, turned each piece upside down, so that only the gray-brown backing was showing. Then she watched what Joe did with them.

He seemed not even to notice. Pausing only for a moment, Joe peered into the pile of pieces, then reached for two of them. They were a match. He immediately snapped them together, backside-up, between his knees on the floor. It was his new starting point. From there he kept going, building, in lifeless monochrome, out of fifty pieces, a picture of nothing.

Continue reading

Improvisations on ‘Improvisation in the Sciences’

Guest post by Ted Altschuler

comebebrainy2015I suggested to my friends at Dana that I would blog on Improvisation in the Sciences, the opening event of Brain Awareness Week New York City, as an improvisation. Being both an artist and a scientist, I thought this could be an engaging way to participate in an evening combining music, science and visual art, but its freewheeling form has run longer than expected!  Here are excerpts. You can read the complete version on the ComeBeBraiNY website, as well as check out its Brain Awareness Week calendar of more than 30 New York events and Dana’s calendar of global events.

Improvisation 3

Antoine Roney, the saxophonist, and his 10-year old son Kojo, a drummer, have started to play. The music is relentless. The father, despite the agitated line he is playing, looks as if he is praying. His son pounds his kit with a terrifying drive. The variegated rhythms follow each other with continued unpredictability, yet their progress seems inevitable, the ingredients of great improv. Usually talks open with someone fumbling as they try to sync their laptop with a projector. Now this is an opening to a neuroscience talk! Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: