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Brain Awareness Week: A Festival for the Brain

Every year, in March, international Brain Awareness Week features educational activities all over the world, organized by local partners under the umbrella of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research, and this year it takes place March 14-20.

Brain Awareness Week Logo

Last year, we wrote a piece describing Brain Awareness Week and why on earth we need such a thing. The short answer is: because the brain is infinitely complex and with new discoveries coming at fast pace, it’s hard to keep up!

This year, we took on Brain Awareness Week in our home state of Rhode Island, and we created Brain Week RI, with the help of many dedicated people who are interested in brains—neuroscientists, neurologists (no, they’re not the same thing), artists, college students, mental health providers, and a bunch of people who are interested just because they have brains.

A highlight of Brain Week RI is the Brain Fair at Brown University, where labs on campus will featureBrain Week Rhode Island logo family-friendly games and activities to explain their research and why it’s important. There are a couple of movie nights, one focusing on Infinitely Polar Bear and a discussion of bipolar disorder as seen in the film. The other will feature The Deer Hunter, which depicts post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. There will also be a panel discussion on concussion in sports, and a story-telling event where people share their own brain-themed stories. There’s even an art exhibit. And scientists will be visiting local schools to talk about brain research, to inspire a new generation of neuroscientists.

You can read all about it on the Brain Week RI website, and if you live nearby, we hope you’ll attend an event or two. Or more!

We’re particularly excited about our own Cure Alliance event, called Mental Tapas. Like the small Spanish appetizers called “tapas,” we’re offering a variety of short presentations about experiences of mental illness. Some are about living with mental illness, some are about the science of mental illness—all reshaping how we think about mental illness.

Wherever you are, you can find out if there are Brain Awareness Week events near you on the BAW website. If you’re near New York City, there’s a lot going on for BraiNY. Or, if you just want to sit right where you are and learn something about brains, there’s a good list here, and here are a few more links to keep you entertained and informed:

A great article from National Geographic with a wealth of information about our brains

A good description of the role of neuroscience in improving mental health globally

A TED talk about developing more precise treatments for mental illnesses

A fun TED talk examining psychology myths about how our brains supposedly work

 

 

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