The Skinny on Epilepsy

Although a common brain disorder that affects almost four million people nationwide, many people know little about epilepsy. Stephanie Rogers, a doctoral candidate at New York University (NYU), attempted to demystify the disorder with a thorough overview of “The Science of Epilepsy: What Is It and How Can We Understand It?” at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute during Brain Awareness Week.

Rogers explained epilepsy with a metaphor: Imagine neurons in the brain are people in a public space. Some of the people (neurons in a certain network) are having a conversation and talking directly to one another while others are overheard by the other people (neurons) in the room. During a seizure, all the people become distracted and stop their normal conversation and, in unison, chant a certain message—like fans at a sports game. Seizures activity is neurons joining together in a chant in the brain, and epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy_EEG

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Brain Fairs for Brain Awareness Week

Brain Fairs for Brain Awareness Week

Prior to Brain Awareness Week, we encouraged you to watch our video on how to organize a successful brain fair, and now that Brain Awareness Week is here, we encourage you to see one in action! Across the globe, brain fairs—stations with activities and information about the brain set up at hospitals, universities, community centers, and more—are a popular activity for organizers and attendees alike. They’re a great way to share a range of brain science topics, while also drawing attention to the work or focus of the organizer.

In New York City this week, we have our pick of brain fairs to attend—so we’ve chosen to attend several of them! We offer some highlights in photos from the NYC brain fair scene.

BioBase Harlem at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute: Continue reading

Mindfulness for the Developing Brain

meriah dejosephOn Thursday, March 15th, Know Science, an organization that advocates the knowledge of new science and scientific research to the public, hosted the talk “Regulating the Brain: The Science of Mindfulness” at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute in New York City. This was an event presented as part of Brain Awareness Week.

Meriah DeJoseph, the presenter for the evening, is a lab manager for the Neuroscience and Education Lab at New York University (NYU). She will be starting a PhD program in developmental psychology this fall to further investigate self-regulation and how mindfulness can affect the developing brain. Prior to NYU, she worked on a project at Teachers College, Columbia University studying brain activity of children from Girls Prep Bronx Elementary, who have a mindfulness class integrated in their curriculum.

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Alda Crushes It

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.

Best known for M*A*S*H*, Alan Alda has also appeared in 48 films, on Broadway, and written two books. Photo credit: Eileen Barroso, Columbia University

Best known for M*A*S*H*, Alan Alda has also appeared in 48 films, on Broadway, and written two books. Photo credit: Eileen Barroso, Columbia University

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.

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