‘The mysteries of the mind’ — Brain Awareness Season lectures begin Feb. 25

Oregonians becoming “brain aware” — that is the goal of the OHSU Brain Institute’s Brain Awareness Season Lecture Series.

Everyone wonders or worries about their brain. There is so much to learn and understand. And brain science — neuroscience — transforms society, from parenting to prisons, from autism discoveries to Alzheimer’s prevention and from creating new policies to improving current medical practices.

The 2013 Brain Awareness Lecture series — which begins Feb. 25 and runs through May 20 —  focuses on the deeper secrets of the brain, from the subconscious to the single cell. These lectures bring top experts and the most current breakthrough information on discoveries about the brain and their impact on neuroscience. Portlanders are known for their intelligence and their commitment to improving themselves and their community; understanding what makes a person who he or she is builds the foundation of this capability.

Most of what you do, think, believe and feel is generated by parts of your brain to which you have no access … and little understanding.  But we’re on the cusp of a golden age for neuroscience. We realize that the brain is larger than the sum of its parts; it is the ultimate synaptic example of synergy. We’re probing deeper into the intricacies of the brain and beginning to see novel ideas translate into better lives for millions of people. We are leveraging more than 50 years of neuroscience research to unlock the power and potential of the brain — to heal, to stretch, and to age well. The brain is the center of our being, the key to how we perceive the present and plan for our future. It is working and evolving 24/7.

Understanding how the brain works and changes at its deepest levels will enlighten us about the Mysteries of the Mind, which is the focus of the 2013 Brain Awareness Season Lecture Series. Together we will:

  • explore resiliency for healthy aging at its most fundamental level.
  • delve into the hidden thoughts that govern our thinking and actions.
  • learn how surgeons probe with a tiny current into cells deep in the brain to stimulate key areas that improve the tremor of Parkinson’s Disease and even intractable depression.
  • look behind the broken mirror of the autistic brain to understand and help more effectively those affected.
  • view breakthrough technologies that take real pictures of the hidden brain to understand its structure and function.
  • interpret the complex interplay of nature and nurture in the evolution of our own brain development and the traits we inherit or acquire.

Unlocking these secrets of our most complicated inner universe will help us better understand the power and potential for increasing the quality of our lives and solving the most difficult afflictions.

First Lecture: Feb. 25, Dr. Richard Hodes, M.D., director, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

We are increasingly interested in healthy aging in this country. The peak of the Age Wave is 63 this year; this age group will not go quietly into the sunset and it is a rapidly growing cohort, much larger than any other age group — older or younger. Reducing disease and disability associated with aging is the mission of the National Institute of Aging, headed by Dr. Richard Hodes, the first lecturer in our series.

The NIA leads the federal effort conducting and supporting research on aging. Its strong, diverse and balanced research program will improve the health and quality of life for older adults and their families. Helping older adults remain independent — a very Oregonian value — is a central focus of the research conducted by the NIA.

Basic and clinical research on aging; epidemiological and social aspects of aging; genetics and biology of aging — all are connected and part of the NIA’s portfolio. Dr. Hodes has a powerful and inspiring personal and professional vision for the future of healthy aging — and will provide lessons for us all.

Bobby Heagerty
Director, Community Affairs & Education
OHSU Brain Institute