“Intelligent Nightlife” and The Time Traveling Brain

Guest post by Brandon Barrera

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Image: Caveat

The night promises to unfurl a bit of mystery. A cryptic figure tells us there has been a crime–sort of. We will come to learn that there is, indeed, a victim but the crime is not one in the traditional sense. The crime scene is the brain and episodic memory-loss the perpetrator. We’re told that with a little sleuthing, we can get closer to the truth.

This dramatic performance is the Mark Kennedy-McClellan directed “The Talks Progress Administration: The Time Traveling Brain,” a staged talk brought to life at Caveat in New York City on Tuesday. One of many events showcased during Brain Awareness Week (BAW), the piece feels similar to a long form TED talk, mixed-in with interactive story-telling. Our narrator frequently steps off-stage and into her “lab” (see: audience) to ask questions about breakfast, to squirrel away treats among audience members, and even hand out glowsticks. All done in the name of science, to be sure, and it’s effective in creating fun, illuminating narration.

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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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I Am Science

I was fascinated to find out my co-worker Caitlin earned her undergraduate degree in neuroscience. Until then, I didn’t even know neuroscience was a major and never considered how people got into the field. Some of my questions were answered on Tuesday evening at the “I Am Science” event at The Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event was part of The Story Collider series, which brings people in the field of science together to illustrate science’s impact on our daily lives. It was the second anniversary of this event. (Tweets related to the event can be found by searching for the hashtag #IAmScience.)

The AmygdaloidsJoe LeDoux, middle, and the rest of The Amygdaloids, on stage at the I Am Science event.

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