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Brain Awareness events highlight mind’s wonders

Feb. 22, 2018, 9:30 AM

Research on circadian rhythms, longevity and the brain’s pleasure system will be featured during this year’s Brain Awareness events sponsored by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

A highlight is “Brain Blast,” a half-day of free, hands-on activities for children and adults. This year’s event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 17, in the Martin Professional Development Center, 2400 Fairfax Ave., next to Dragon Park.

The first Brain Awareness lecture will be held on March 14. Helen Burgess, PhD, director of the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory at Rush Medical College in Chicago, will speak on “Watching and Shifting the Human Circadian Clock: Implications for Treatment.”

Her talk is part of the Neuroscience Graduate Seminar Series co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. It will begin at 4:10 p.m. in the MRB III lecture hall, room 1220.

A second lecture co-sponsored by the Kennedy Center as part of the Neuroscience Graduate Seminar Series will be delivered on March 28 by Margaret Livingstone, PhD, Takeda Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

Her talk, which also begins at 4:10 p.m. in room 1220, MRB III, is entitled “The Development of Specialized Modules for Recognizing Faces, Scenes, Text and Bodies: What You See is What You Get.”

The Vanderbilt Brain Institute’s Rebecca Ihrie, PhD, assistant professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Neurological Surgery, has organized a course for this year’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt entitled “Our Brains: An Operator’s Manual.”

Led by Vanderbilt experts, the course begins March 29 and runs for six consecutive Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Vanderbilt University Commons Center at 1231 18th Ave. S.

Topics include:

  • “What could longevity possibly have to do with the brain?” (April 5) by Suzana Herculano-Houzel, PhD, associate professor of Psychological Sciences, and
  • “Sex, drugs and potato chips: the pleasure system of the brain” (April 12), by Christine Konradi, PhD, professor of Pharmacology and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The course fee is $40. Deadline for registration is March 2. To register, visit or call 615-343-0700.

Finally, on April 4 the Vanderbilt Brain Institute will host the first Vivien Casagrande Lecture in Systems Neuroscience, named for the late Vanderbilt neuroscientist who was internationally known for her studies of the visual system.

The talk by Leah Krubitzer, PhD, professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, will begin at 4:10 p.m. in room 1220 MRB III. Krubitzer, who earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt, studies cortical evolution and development.

For more information about this year’s Brain Awareness events, contact Beth Sims at or 615-936-3705.

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