May 11, 2016

Circadian Rhythms

We've all been there: staring at the ceiling at 2:43 a.m., unable to fall asleep while the world slumbers around us. How do our internal clocks stay synced to our environment? What exactly do circadian rhythms control? Might future research provide relief for late-night workers or the jet-lagged? Erik Herzog, professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, explains how the brain's "master clock" works and how genetics can influence our daily biological rhythms.

A version of this podcast was first released in 2013. To learn about Erik Herzog's ongoing efforts to support and encourage younger neuroscientists, check out our recent episode How to Create a Neuroscience Pipeline

May 4, 2016

Brain Discovery: Bringing Scientists Into the Classroom

The Human Brain: Episode #10

Most elementary-school students have never met a scientist. Claire Weichselbaum and Brian Lananna, graduate students in neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis, want to change that. Last year, the team cofounded Brain Discovery, an outreach program that brings neuroscience into classrooms. Over the course of the 6-week program, kids get to know a "scientist buddy" and learn about the brain through fun experiments and activities. So far, volunteers with Brain Discovery have already reached some 250 students and spent over 1,500 hours in classrooms around St. Louis.

A special thanks to 4th-6th graders Jack, Isak, Anne, Riley, David, Natalie, and Ethan, who participated in Brain Discovery and talked about the class for this podcast. Want to get involved? Check out Brain Discovery online or email braindiscoveryprogram@gmail.com. 

April 27, 2016

The Amazing Brain Carnival

The Human Brain: Episode #9

Twice a year, the St. Louis Science Center hosts a carnival - but you won't find a carousel or a performer doing magic tricks. Instead, at the Amazing Brain Carnival, kids of all ages get to learn about the real-life magic happening inside their own bodies. Graduate students Dov Lerman-Sinkoff and Tyler Schlichenmeyer walk us through the carnival and share why, as neuroscience researchers, they want to reach out and inspire more people to get excited about the brain.

April 21, 2016

How to Create a Neuroscience Pipeline

The Human Brain: Episode #8

Back when his kids were in elementary school, biology professor Erik Herzog remembers taking a human brain into their classroom and watching the kids' faces light up with curiosity. Yet somewhere along the way, he knew, many kids get discouraged from pursuing careers in science - and this can be especially true for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Herzog, a neuroscientist who studies circadian rhythms, now manages many efforts across Washington University to support and encourage younger neuroscience researchers, from elementary school all the way through doctoral programs. Here he shares some of the outreach efforts across campus and the inspiration behind them, including the recently launched St. Louis Neuroscience Pipeline

April 6, 2016

"The Quality of Mercy": A Shakespearean Theme

Shakespeare 400

Four hundred years after the death of William Shakespeare, theater enthusiasts around the world are celebrating the famous playwright's legacy. To learn more about Shakespeare, his works, and the times in which he lived, we invite you to tune in to our 2015 series Summer with the Bard. In the following episode from that series,  Robert Wiltenburg takes us through Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, and romances to reveal how a quintessential Shakespearean theme - mercy - evolves in each genre, highlighting great triumphs and disasters along the way. 

March 23, 2016

Recovering from Stroke

The Human Brain: Episode #7

According to the American Stroke Association, on average, someone in the United States experiences a stroke every 40 seconds. It's the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. Catherine Lang, director of the Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory and professor of physical therapy, neurology, and occupational therapy at the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, wants to improve the ways that doctors and physical therapists help people recover from stroke. In this week's podcast, she shares some dramatic findings from one ongoing experiment.


March 15, 2016

Claude Monet and the Science of Style

The Human Brain: Episode #6

When you look at a painting by Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso, what do you really see? Mark Rollins, a professor of philosophy and the director of the performing arts department at Washington University in St. Louis, shares his fascination with both cognitive science and visual art. As Rollins explains, art can be viewed as a game between two brains. Here, he gives us a glimpse of one of Monet's hidden strategies.

White matter fiber architecture from the Connectome Scanner dataset. The fibers are color-coded by direction: red = left-right, green = anterior-posterior, blue = ascending-descending (RGB=XYZ). www.humanconnectomeproject.org
March 2, 2016

Mapping the Brain

The Human Brain: Episode #4

Through the groundbreaking Human Connectome Project, researchers like Deanna Barch have spent years mapping the complex wiring of the human brain. Barch, who chairs the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, provides a behind-the-scenes look into the project and helps us understand the links between brain connectivity and human behavior.