2006-08-08

The Picower Institute

The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex (pictured), the largest neuroscience research facility in the world, just opened Dec 2005 and is generating some fascinating research. (Like the window in a mouse brain permitting monitoring of the expression of flourescent proteins that demonstrated changes in the living brain over time i.e. neural plasticity.)

Their Open Mind Series "which will explore the possibility that insights gained by neuroscientists who are studying learning and memory mechanisms in the brain might be usefully applied to problems of great societal importance" has hosted two symposia: On Addiction and On Depression. Both are archived in webcasts, as will the third symposium in the series (on the aging brain), and offer lectures and discussions with new perspectives. Titles includes Why We Do What We Do: The Neurological Basis of Motivation (Wolfram Schultz), Extreme Memory: The Molecular Basis of Learning and Addiction (Rob Malenka), and The Love of Difficulty and the Uses of Depression (Rob Pinsky).

In one lecture, Brain Disorder or Character Flaw? Public Ignorance, Public Policy and the Stigma of Addiction, Nora Volkow addresses the issue of how denying the biological basis of mental illness perpetuates stigma and impedes addiction research.

The Picower Institute opened with an inaugural symposium on The Future of the Brain, featuring novel ideas from five Nobel laureates, and discussions on memory and consciousness.



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