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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 19, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 31
Inaugural Brain Awareness Week begins today on Homewood campus

Jonathan Nizar and Jasmine Lew, coordinators of the inaugural Brain Awareness Week.

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

The Scarecrow wished he had one; Johns Hopkins' neuroscience undergraduate honor society wishes the public knew more about it — a brain, that is.

NuRhoPsi, in conjunction with the Neuroscience Program in KSAS' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, will host the school's inaugural Brain Awareness Week, a series of panel and information sessions on the most sophisticated of organs.

The series, which starts today, ties in with national Brain Awareness Week, an educational outreach initiative started in 1996 by the Dana Alliance to increase the public's awareness of the importance of brain and nervous system research.

Today at 2 p.m. all JHU undergraduate neuroscience majors are invited to gather for a social meeting in Levering's Great Hall on the Homewood campus.

The first public event will be a talk by Linda Gorman, held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, in the Glass Pavilion, titled "Do Drugs Really Make You Happy?" Gorman, a lecturer in Psychological and Brain Sciences, will warn of the short- and long-term adverse effects associated with the use of drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.

On Wednesday, Guy McKhann, a professor in the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, and his wife, Harvard neurologist Marilyn Albert, will present a lecture based on their book Keep Your Brain Young: The Complete Guide to Physical and Emotional Health and Longevity. McKhann has said that three of the key factors to keeping the brain healthy and well-functioning in old age appear to be physical activity, mental activity and a person's confidence in his or her ability to play a positive role. The couple's talk will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Mattin Center's Offit Building, room 160.

Several members of the Psychological and Brain Sciences faculty will lead a panel discussion, held at 4 p.m. on Thursday in 233 Ames Hall, geared toward students who are interested in the field.

The week ends with a student poster session from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday in Levering's Great Hall. Every spring, the Neuroscience Program holds a campuswide undergraduate poster contest to promote student research. The posters will be judged by professors from the Biology, Chemistry and Psychological and Brain Sciences departments.

Jasmine Lew, co-coordinator with Jonathan Nizar of Hopkins' Brain Awareness Week, said that the events are intended to expose students to careers in the brain sciences and to inform the public on some of the latest research in the field.

"Johns Hopkins has a very strong Brain Sciences program," said Lew, pointing out that neuroscience is one of the most popular undergraduate majors. "We wanted to draw attention to the program and let people know what kind of work is going on here and provide an opportunity to meet some of our faculty."

Those who attend any event will be presented with a hardcover copy of the Society for Neuroscience's Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and the Nervous System. Attendees will also receive a "brain resource kit" that includes a Brain Awareness Week T-shirt, a packet of 25 pencils, 25 brain-shaped erasers, an educational CD-ROM, a copy of the Society for Neuroscience's Brain Awareness Week report and SFN's guide to public advocacy.

NuRhoPsi, the JHU honor society for neuroscience, was founded in spring 1997. For more information, go to


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