Illinois Science Council’s Spring 2012 Series
"Your Brain on Happiness"
We all know how different it feels to be happy or otherwise, and it’s all in your brain. Our gray matter is outrageously emotional – dizzying highs and gut-wrenching lows and everything in between. Sometimes the change in mindset happens surprisingly quickly. Given the incredible recent advancements in studying the brain, have researchers found how happiness arises in the brain? Can you actually change your brain to make yourself happier? How?!? Robin Nusslock, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at Northwestern University, will explain how happiness affects physical health, what’s happening when happiness goes awry and turns to depression or other disorders, and whether meditation can actually alter the brain.
Wednesday, March 28th 6:30 – 7:30pm Sulzer Public Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
"We Are Memory"
How can you have already forgotten the name of the person you just met but still remember all the words to a song from 6th grade? How can something as critical and compelling as eyewitness testimony for crimes be shown to be wrong? Memory is strange! Here’s your chance to understand how your brain really works in remembering or forgetting. Elizabeth Kensinger, Associate Professor, Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Boston College, will explain the different kinds of memory, whether games and puzzles can make yours better, and what’s happening when memory fails – whether it’s a word on the ‘tip of your tongue’ or more serious condition like amnesia and dementia. She’ll also provide an entertaining look at how poorly pop culture represents memory.
Monday, April 2nd 2012 6:30 – 7:30pm Sulzer Public Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
"I’m a Genius! What a brilliant idea!
Sometimes terrific ideas or solutions occur to you out of nowhere, like in the shower or when you’re falling asleep? But other times, you struggle over something and draw a complete blank. What’s going on in your head when your brain works so well, and so awfully, at different times? How can scientists actually research something as elusive as "creativity"? Having an "Aha!" moment is so gratifying. The question is whether you can do anything to have more of those and fewer “D'oh” moments. Mark Beeman, Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Northwestern University will explain what insight is, how the brain produces creative thinking, and ways we can improve those “Eureka!” occasions.
Monday, April 9th 2012 6:00 – 7:30pm Stage 773, Black Box Theater, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
"Your Addicted Brain"
People use the term “addicted” all the time – “I’m addicted to my morning coffee,” “You’re addicted to that TV show.” But when does a preference turns into a true addiction of the brain? Is there really any difference between a caffeine addiction and a cocaine one? What’s the difference between a drug addiction and a behavior addiction, like gambling or gaming? T. Celeste Napier, Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction at Rush University, will explain the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of addiction, how scientists study it, and what can be done about it.
Wednesday, April 11th 2012 6:00 – 7:30pm Dave & Busters, 1030 N. Clark Street, 1st floor, Chicago
"Your Brain on Love, Sex and Oxytocin"
Everyone from poets and novelists to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber express their views on “love,” but what about the scientists? Turns out that scientists have studied love and uncovered amazing things! Sue Carter, Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Brain-Body Center at UIC, studies the brain biology of social bonding and parenting behavior, and her work has laid the foundation for research on the biology of monogamy. She will explain what people can learn about monogamy and ‘philandering’ from prairie voles (cute little rodents native to the Midwest that – fun fact – mate for 24 consecutive hours). Love may indeed be about chemistry and we now know their names are oxytocin and vasopressin.
Kayt Sukel, science author of “Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships,” has interviewed scores of scientists doing research on this confounding source of human highs and lows. You’ll learn what’s known and still to be figured out in the neuroscience of the varied ways to love – parental love, mating love, same-sex love, spiritual love and lust. Kayt will discuss the biology, endocrinology, psychology and neuroimaging work in the field, talk about visits to research labs, and even how she donated her body and mind in unique ways to contribute to the cause of science. Dirty Minds will be available for purchase and signing.
Wednesday, April 18th 2012 6:00 – 8:00pm Stage 773, Pro Theater, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
All these programs are FREE and open to the public. ISC maintains an ‘open-mind’ on many things, however seating is limited. So please remember to reserve a seat in advance for any program you want to attend.
Visit: IllinoisScience.org to learn more or to join the mailing list so you'll be informed of future programs.
Support for this series provided by