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Event set to reveal wonders, mysteries of the brain

Feb. 20, 2014, 9:41 AM

“Brain Blast,” a half day of free, hands-on activities for children and adults, will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 1, at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, 719 Thompson Lane.

On the first floor of Entrance D, Vanderbilt University students and neuroscientists will help participants “build a neuron,” experiment with DNA and touch a real brain.

About 300 people attended last year’s Brain Blast. Here, Gabriel Cannistraci, 4, puts his hands around a human brain to the amazement of his 2-year-old sister Sofia. This year’s event is set for Saturday, March 1, at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks. (photo by Daniel Dubois)

“Brain Blast” is a highlight of Vanderbilt’s annual Brain Awareness Month, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute to raise awareness about brain disorders and neuroscience research.

The public is invited to attend two other free “Brainstorm” events:

Monday, March 17 — “Building a better baby: Toward a new system of health care delivery for infants and toddlers with autism,” the Brainstorm Keynote Lecture, by Ami Klin, Ph.D., director of Atlanta’s Marcus Autism Center.

Klin’s lecture, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, begins at 4:10 p.m. in room 241 of the Kennedy Center, One Magnolia Circle, off Edgehill Avenue near the corner of 21st Avenue South.

Monday, March 24 — “Building a healthy brain,” the Jeannette J. Norden Outreach Lecture, by Beth Malow, M.D., M.S., chief of the Vanderbilt Division of Sleep Disorders, and Paul Newhouse, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine.

Their lecture, sponsored by the Brain Institute, begins at 7 p.m. in the Wyatt Center Rotunda of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. For parking tips, visit and click on “About Us,” then “Explore Peabody” and “Visit Campus.”

Four other lectures aimed at the Vanderbilt community will be held in 1220 MRB III:

• “A better spotlight: Shifts in selective attention investigated with high-resolution monkey fMRI,” by Wim J.M. Vanduffel, Ph.D., assistant professor of Radiology at Harvard University, at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, March 5

• “Eyeing the fly brain: Dissecting the circuit mechanisms of motion detection,” by Thomas Clandinin, Ph.D., associate professor of Neurobiology at Stanford University, at 12:15 p.m. Monday, March 10

• “The wisdom of the body: The neurobiology of need,” by Scott Sternson, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientist at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va., at noon Friday, March 14

• “Drugs, brains and behavior: Molecular substrates of addiction,” by Brad Grueter, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt, at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, sponsored by the Brain Institute.

Vanduffel’s lecture is sponsored by Vanderbilt Vision Research Center and the Center for Integrative & Cognitive Neuroscience, Clandinin’s by the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, and Sternson’s by the Vanderbilt Institute for Obesity and Metabolism.

For more information, contact Beth Sims at or 936-3705.

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