Brain Awareness Week
Awareness Days

What You Need To Know About Brain Awareness Week

Brain awareness week was established in 1995 with a goal is to raise public awareness of amazing progress and benefits in brain research. It was created by Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) with united efforts of various partners and sponsorships, extensive research and development have been done to truly understand how our brain works and how we can help those with brain diseases. 

Brain awareness week began with only 150 organizations in the United States. In the 25 years since its founding, Brain Awareness Week has evolved into a global education initiative. It has included the participation of more than 7,300 partners in 117 countries every year! In 2019 alone upwards of 2,500 partner events were held in 50 countries and 45 states.

Universities, hospitals, public schools, government agencies, and private organizations are coming together for this global campaign. These partners will host conferences, activities, and events around their communities to teach the wonders of the brain and the impact on brain science in our everyday lives.

Some popular events include lectures and panel discussions; lab tours and open houses at neuroscience laboratories; brain fairs with hands-on activities, games, and experiments; programs at K-12 schools; museum exhibitions about the brain; displays at malls, libraries, and community centers; art and literature competitions; concerts and theatrical performances; and social media campaigns.

These efforts have led to funding for research and lab testing and as a result, some amazing discoveries came to light. Below are 5 breakthroughs in brain research within the last 20 years 

Diagnosing Neurological Disorders

Diagnosing neurological disorders simplified – 20 years ago doctors had to do intense biopsies, spinal taps and brain scans to diagnose any ailments in the brain. Now it can be done with laboratory screening tests, brain scans, or genetic testing.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has an excellent article on their site that explains “Scientists funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke seek to develop additional and improved screening methods to more accurately and quickly confirm a specific diagnosis and investigate other factors that might contribute to disease. Technological advances in imaging will allow researchers to better see inside the body, at less risk to the person. These diagnostics and procedures will continue to be important clinical research tools for confirming a neurological disorder, charting disease progression, and monitoring therapeutic effect.”

The Brain in Infancy

what we now know about infant brains thanks to brain awareness week

The brain can continue growing even after infancy – Just 15 years ago it was popular opinion that the brain stopped growing after an infant became a child. Following birth, humans manufacture an estimated 250,000 neurons per minute and then spend the next few years wiring them together. Traditionally, it was assumed that this neural plasticity settles down by adulthood but it is a known fact that adult neurons can change their firing patterns and responses when faced with new experiences.

With many clinical studies and diagnostic testing, we know now that the brain can continue growing well past childhood and can be rewired to overcome various brain deficiencies. 

Caffeine and Brain Function

Caffeine and the brain – In the last 10 years, scientists have researched how our brains react with various amounts of caffeine. It was discovered that caffeine helps us stay alert and is a fantastic mood booster. This stimulant blocks adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that makes you sleepy. There was much speculation about caffeine destroying adenosine but the truth is that caffeine only prevents adenosine from slowing you down.

Behavioral Therapy

The coming of behavior therapy – Now that we understand a little better how the mind and body are connected there has been an explosion of various behavior therapy techniques to combat mental illnesses such as anxiety, anger issues, ADHD, etc.  This therapy is an effective treatment approach for a range of mental and emotional health issues, including anxiety and depression. CBT works to help identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and to learn practical self-help strategies. These strategies are designed to create positive changes in your quality of life. 

The US National Library of Medicine states in regards to cognitive behavioral therapy “It is continuously evolving based on both cumulative and critical research and integrated into a larger picture of science (e.g., cognitive neurogenetics). At this moment, there are no other psychological treatments with more research support to validate their underlying constructs.”

Neural Implants

how you can celebrate brain awareness week

Introduction to neural implants – If the brain loses some function from a stroke or heart attack, doctors can now insert a neural implant that actually restores the function that has been lost. One of the most established clinical uses of neural implants is in a treatment called deep brain stimulation. Electrodes are surgically placed deep into the brain where they stimulate specific structures in an effort to reduce the symptoms of various brain-based disorders.

It’s hard to justify brain or spinal surgery unless a person is in severe medical need. So engineers are constantly inventing better devices that reach deep in the body with less impact on tissues. Doctors can now restore eyesight, hearing, and many other functions thanks to hard work, dedication, and innovative bioengineering done in the last 10 years. 

Bottom Line

The brain is such an important part of us as humans and every breakthrough big or small helps us combat neurological ailments. By supporting brain awareness week research can continue and cures can be made to some of the most devastating and life-threatening brain injuries. For more information on how YOU can help go to the brain awareness campaign website. There you can read tons of information on lectures, exhibits, and webinars hosted all year round in support of brain development! 

Share this article with your friends and family and help spread awareness of the amazing work and research being done every day to increase our understanding of the human brain to benefit us in the best way possible.

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