Video: Brain awareness

Neuroscience Institute Public Outreach & Science Education | NYU Langone Health

Video: Brain awareness

At the Neuroscience Institute, our researchers and staff recognize the importance of bringing the excitement of scientific inquiry from our labs to local communities.

Through the Neuroscience Outreach Group at NYU (NOGN), we partner with local schools and community organizations to host educational events that celebrate the brain and explain how neuroscience can unlock its many mysteries.

With more than 100 scientist volunteers, NOGN has reached more than 1,000 students and their families since it was founded in 2011.

VIDEO: Volunteers at last year’s Brain Day explain the importance of sharing their work with the public. Please join us next spring when we bring more exciting activities, research updates, and clinical programs to the NYU Langone community.

Brain Awareness Week 2020

This year we will be celebrating Brain Awareness Week from March 16–22 with a series of events in conjunction with braiNY, the outreach arm of the Greater New York City chapter of the Society for Neuroscience; the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives; and other area institutions. The Neuroscience Institute is a key player in planning braiNY events throughout the city.

Brain Awareness Week events will take place at sites across New York City. Through a range of events, such as documentary screenings, free yoga classes, and lectures on health and the brain, we are proud to draw hundreds of visitors each year to NYU and our world-class neuroscience community.

Drawing and the Brain—March 17, 2020

The Neuroscience Institute and the Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine are presenting an opportunity to explore the beautiful complexity of the brain through drawing with artist-in-residence Laura Fergurson from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. Sessions are free and open to all NYU affiliates.

Community Brain Fair—March 17, 2020

As a preventive measure related to COVID-19, the 2020 Community Brain Fair has been cancelled.

A Lot on the Mind—Epilepsy and Dance—March 20, 2020

NOGN and braiNY are presenting an evening of educational activities focusing on epilepsy, awareness of the disorder, and salsa. A Lot on the Mind is a series exploring the scientific basis of brain disorders and the experiences and talents of patients.

Classroom Visits

Throughout the year, NOGN visits classrooms so our researchers can share their scientific expertise with K–12 students around the city.

NOGN volunteers design each presentation or workshop in conjunction with classroom teachers, introducing concepts such as the scientific method and the basics of the brain.

For older students (ages 8 through 18), we’ve created lessons on learning and memory, diseases of the brain, neuroanatomy, and the senses.

To invite NOGN to your classroom or to find out more about the topics we cover, please email Ethan McCurdy at

Community Partnerships

NOGN is committed to bringing science and medicine to a diverse audience, and we’re proud to work with community programs that already have a structure in place. These partnerships enable us to have a big impact across a wide spectrum of target audiences.

Citizen Schools extends the school day for middle school students in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem. NOGN volunteers have designed a 10-week curriculum for students participating in this program, bringing neuroscience to students who may otherwise not have a strong science, technology, engineering, and math education.

It is also a teaching apprenticeship program, and our volunteers learn the basics of creating lesson plans and managing a classroom while forming bonds with students.

Most importantly, the students gain an understanding that neuroscience is more than a set of facts in a textbook—it’s a way of asking questions about the brain and how it enables interaction with the world around us.

We also partner with other NYU Langone groups, such as the Science and Technology Entry Program, Finding a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES), Rusk Rehabilitation, and the Center for Cognitive Neurology, and are actively involved in patient fairs, summer programs, and student visits throughout the year.

NOGN is also a platform for our volunteers to get involved with events throughout the city. NOGN and braiNY volunteers from other area institutions have hosted tables at the World Science Festival, held workshops at the American Museum of Natural History, and hosted hands-on events at the BioBus and BioBase.

Get Involved with Us

To learn more about NOGN, or to find out how you can get involved in our programs, contact Ethan McCurdy, PhD, program coordinator at the Neuroscience Institute, at 212-263-8190 or


VIDEOS: Surrey neuroscience innovation highlighted during Brain Awareness Week

Video: Brain awareness

More than a dozen presentations are planned in Surrey’s Health and Technology District for Brain Awareness week, which runs from March 12 to 17.

“This is a really exciting week,” said renowned neuroscientist Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, sitting inside the HealthTech Innovation HUB which will play host to the numerous events this week, as part of the international week of awareness.

“We’ve got scientists from Simon Fraser University, Fraser Health and Surrey Memorial (Hospital) talking about all the latest advancements in brain technology, brain care, brain innovations,” noted D’Arcy, who is one of several doctors set to present at the event.

“We’ve got on-going activities for youth from school to learn more about the brain, for people in the community to learn more about how right here in the Health Tech District we’re leading the world in innovations for brain care,” he added.

See also: ‘Game-changing’ Surrey-born technology tests brain vital signs

See also: OUR VIEW: Let’s celebrate Surrey’s medical triumphs

D’Arcy said many current projects, including medical imaging research, state-of-the-art labs, as well as helping Captain Trevor Greene to recover his ability and rewire his brain — and to climb to the highest heights of the world to tackle the Mount Everest base camp.

Greene was hit in the head with an axe while on duty in Afghanistan and is working to retrain his brain with the help of D’Arcy and other specialists (see Greene’s amazing story of determination in Friday’s issue of the Now-Leader).

Brain awareness “really matters,” said D’Arcy, who founded both the Surrey Neurotech Lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Innovation Boulevard.

It’s a critical issue, he elaborated, because “we all know people who have challenges with or concerns about dementia, brain injury, mental health, Alzheimer’s, the list goes on and on, ADHD, epilepsy,” he said.

“And right here, we’re trying to innovate technologies and the way we do things to bring care to us faster, solutions more quickly. And that’s what Brain Awareness Week is all about. Just getting a feel for what’s going on here.”

The events in Surrey, which run Tuesday to Thursday at the HealthTech Innovation Hub, will showcase leading-edge technologies and include talks on a variety of topics.

Tuesday’s line up kicks off with the yoga program Love Your Brain, led by Kevin Pearce, as 12:30 p.m.

That day’s events will conclude with a screening of The Crash Wheel at 3:30 p.m., a film that highlights Pearce’s near traumatic brain injury while training for the 2010 winter Olympics.

Also that day is a demo of MyndMove Technology relating to functional electrical stimulation and a talk by Michael Coss, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a catastrophic crash on the Coquihalla Highway in 2006.

A Lokomat machine helped Coss learned to walk again with a cane, and a fundraising campaign has been launched to bring one to Surrey.

Then, on Wednesday, several presentations are planned with doctors speaking about a variety of topics ranging from childhood trauma, Alzheimer’s and dementia, technology tackling mental health, brain injury and more.

On Thursday, both elementary and high school students will be at the hub for “brain games,” science and virtual reality demos, brain health talks and special guests from Science World.

All of these events aim to “change the way we think about our brain health,” according to organizers.

Rowena Rizzotti, who is vice-president of Healthcare and Innovation at the Health and Technology District, said much of the province and country are not aware that “we are surrounded here in Surrey by some of the world’s leading neuroscientists and resources that can make immediate changes to how we all think about our brain health.”

Surrey is innovating not only in brain care and technologies, but health care more broadly, noted D’Arcy.

“Surrey’s leading not only in the province, (but) the country and the world in one of the most advanced models to start tackling our major health care problems,” he said. “We do that across all health spectrums.

We do that by bringing from the hospital, our clinicians, together with people form the university, our scientists and researchers and people form the business world to come up with solutions that can actually get out in the world to help us as quick as humanly possible.”

Surrey, said D’Arcy, is “where everyone comes to find out how to make these sort of innovative changes in health care.”

The events at the HealthTech Innovation Hub (13737 96th Ave., second floor) are free and open to the public (excluding Thursday’s lineup for students).

Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP to

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit

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Brain Awareness Week 2020: Cognitive function and commercial video games

Video: Brain awareness

In the spirit of the campaign, we’re taking an insight into a recent review by Min-Hyeon Park et al. published in Behavioral and Brain Functions, considering the different genres of commercial video games available, and how they are associated with cognitive function.

The study aimed to lean away from the negative picture of video games presented by research into compulsive engagements and addiction, and present a more balanced view. The commercial video games included in this study were split into five main genres, which in turn could be split down into sub-genres:

  • Traditional games – online puzzle, card and board games, including Solitaire
  • Simulation games – sports, driving or life simulating games, such as The Sims
  • Strategy games – real time games played in global view, for instance Spore and Starcraft
  • Action games – characterised into first-person (Fortnite) and third-person (Call of Duty) depending on whether the character is visible
  • Fantasy games – allowing exploration of the fantasy environment eg. Skyrim

    Radachynskyi / Getty Images / iS

Across the different studies examined in this review, several improvements in cognitive function were identified.

Frequent video game players were found to be better at sustaining attention, with Action Video Games in particular associated with improvement in selective attention.

Changes in brain activation suggest that action game players are better at filtering information and efficiently allocating attention to important information.

Another improved cognitive function reported was visuo-spatial function. Playing Tetris was discovered to enhance spacial cognition, and ten hours of action game play resulted in improved navigational skills.

Adolescents who more regularly played specifically strategic video games across a four-year period during high school have shown improved problem solving skills in comparison to their peers.

The last cognitive function found to be positively associated with gameplay was second language development. In mass multiplayer online games, opportunities for interaction in the target language are frequent, and an efficient method for acquisition and use of new vocabulary.

krung99 / Getty Images / iStock

However, individual differences between players modulate the extent to which commercial video gaming can lead to cognitive enhancement.

After peaking at the age of 13-14 years, time spent playing video games decreases over time, so the effect of gaming on cognitive function is ly to decrease with age.

Age is also linked to cognitive function itself, with neuroplasticity – the ability for the brain to form and reorganize connections in response to learning – decreasing with time.

Gender is also reported as a modulating factor. While male and female-identifying players experience similar cognitive benefits in terms of attentional advantage, males have been found to play video games for longer stints, influencing overall effect on cognitive function.

On balance, this review provides a counterpart to gaming’s reputation within neuroscience as ‘the world’s fastest growing addiction’ which shares neurobiological abnormalities with other addictive disorders.

Through relating to the 2.2 billion gamers across the planet and asking the right questions about how neuroscience permeates our day to day lives, this study encapsulates Brain Awareness Week’s purpose of sharing the impact brain science has on the wider world.

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