February 15, 2002

Brain Awareness begins Feb. 28

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Christopher F. J. Hardy, Ph.D., will join the faculty in Cell and Developmental Biology in July.

Vanderbilt’s annual series of Brain Awareness events kicks off Thursday, Feb. 28, with a program discussing the latest research on the brain biology of stress and depression. Dr. Huda Akil of the University of Michigan will discuss brain circuits that underlie stress and the efforts to understand the biological basis of emotional behavior.

The goal of Brain Awareness is to teach the general public about how the brain works and the importance of brain research to understanding, treating, and ultimately curing brain-related diseases. The international Brain Awareness program was established in 1995 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of brain function, and the Society for Neuroscience, an international community of 25,000 brain researchers.

Upcoming events include:

• Feb. 28—”Brain Biology of Stress and Depression”—Dr. Huda Akil, University of Michigan with an introduction by Erika Nurmi, Chair, Neuroscience Student Organization Brain Awareness Program. Opening remarks by Dr. Randy Blakely, Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology and director, Center for Molecular Neuroscience, 4-5 p.m., Flynn Auditorium, Vanderbilt University Law School.

• March 2—”Brain Blast! Family Fun at the Cumberland Science Museum”—Enjoy a variety of hands-on activities led by Vanderbilt neuroscience undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Brain Blast is free, but participants must pay the museum entry fee, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Cumberland Science Museum.

• March 14—”Art and the Brain: Art, Symmetry, and Perception”—Dr. Christopher Tyler, associate director, Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, with introductions and overview by Dr. Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology, Vanderbilt University. Marilyn Murphy, professor of Art and Ron Porter, senior lecturer of Art, both of Vanderbilt University will be discussants. Using state of the art neuroscience tools, Tyler will discuss how art and symmetry are perceived in the brain. Murphy and Porter will provide artist’s perspectives on Tyler’s remarks, 7-9 p.m., Frist Center for the Performing Arts.

• March 21—”Attention, the Brain, and Development”—A discussion about brain regions and biological mechanisms underlying attention and how attention is involved in disorders of childhood such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome. The program will feature Dr. B.J. Casey of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, with opening remarks by Dr. Isabel Gauthier, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 4-5 p.m., 241 MRL Kennedy Center Building.

• March 28—”Ecstasy and Other Club Drugs—Dr. Una McCann, Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will discuss how ecstasy and other club drugs can have long-lasting negative effects on the brain that can alter memory and other behaviors, as well as the brain biology of ecstasy and other club drugs. Introduction and overview will be delivered by Dr. Elaine Sanders-Bush, director, Vanderbilt Brain Institute, 7-9 p.m., Cumberland Science Museum.

For programs at the Cumberland Science Museum, call 401-5053 to reserve seats. For more information, call the Vanderbilt Brain Institute at 936-2637 or visit the Web site http://braininstitute.vanderbilt.edu.