Café Neuroéthique – Inside Out: The Science Behind Kids’ Brains, A UBC Centennial Event

Monday, June 6, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Science World at the TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec St., Vancouver, BC, V6A 3Z7

Come join us for a lively discussion with our experts on the science behind kids’ brains!

FREE ADMISSION – Everyone is welcome!

Featuring:
Jehannine Austin, PhD, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia
Patrick McDonald, MD, FRCSC, Div. of Pediatric Neurosurgery, BC Children’s Hospital
Alex Rauscher, PhD, Dept. of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia
Julie Robillard, PhD, Moderator, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia
Judy Illes, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, Moderator, National Core for Neuroethics, University of British Columbia

Please join us!

Inside Out The Science Behind Kids Brains June 6 2016 Science World

Smartphones need a redesign to improve brain function: UBC prof

Rather than improving our mental abilities, smartphones are increasingly blamed for ruining our brains. We replace valuable face-to-face social interactions with a constant virtual connection and complain that it’s harder to concentrate.

Peter Reiner, a professor at the National Core for Neuroethics at UBC, argues that our devices should be redesigned to foster healthier connections between humans and technology so we can use our brains for more challenging activities.

Can smartphones and other technologies improve brain function and make us smarter?

The short answer is yes, but not in the way that people normally think. The fact of the matter is that existing tools to enhance cognitive function don’t work very well. This is probably because our brains are already working very well and efforts to improve them are starting to bump up against the hard limits of our inherent biology.

We are suggesting that it may be time to stop trying to boost the brain from within and take advantage of the technology at our fingertips – the algorithms in our computers and smartphones. In a very palpable sense, the distinction between our brains and our devices is beginning to dissolve so much so that I’ve begun to call these tools “technologies of the extended mind.” We can best improve our cognitive abilities by capitalizing on the blending of brain and technology.

What is the potential for new technologies to improve the brain’s abilities?

The potential is huge but we need to find a way to use these technologies more wisely.

Consider this example. You are at dinner and someone mentions a movie that came out a few years ago that had wonderfully evocative music. When the question arises as to who wrote the music, how likely is it that in the next moment someone will reach for their smartphone and say, “I’ll just Google it.” Given how unremarkable such an event is today (and it is remarkable that it is unremarkable), it shows how seamlessly technology has become integrated in our lives.

The very same technologies that enhance our cognitive abilities degrade them at every turn. We have allowed our reliance upon our technologies of the extended mind to blind us to the fact that they are also damaging our cognitive health – most notably by distracting us every time they demand our attention.

If we are serious about using technology to improve our cognitive function, we need to change the design of our technologies. Today, most features of our computers and smartphones – even the ones that are seemingly offered for free – are geared towards corporate profit margins. What we need is nothing short of a revolution in IT design in which the profit objective is tied to the cognitive health of the user.

What would smartphones that improve our cognitive abilities look like?

One approach that merits further consideration is the idea of calm technology meaning devices that inform without distracting. For example, your phone might automatically go silent when it knows that you are in a meeting or sleeping unless the message is urgent.

In order to find solutions to improve our relationship with technology, we are going to need a broad group of people working on the problem. We’ll need researchers who can examine the benefits and disadvantages of technology, policymakers and behaviour scientists who can come up with creative ways to encourage best practices, and technology designers who can improve the user experience by creating devices that boost our cognitive abilities.

Reiner examines these issues in a recently published article in Nature Outlook: Cognitive Health.

This article was published on March 04, 2016 by Ms. Heather Amos (heather.amos@ubc.ca), Public Affairs, UBC

100 Years WISE: Women in Science and Engineering, Bridging the Past and the Future, A UBC Centennial Session

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Chan Shun Hall, The Chan Centre for Performing Arts
6265 Crescent Rd, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1

The 100 Years WISE will provide an opportunity for our community to discuss and raise awareness about women in leadership, gender diversity, and ways to integrate women in science, medicine and engineering across a wide range of education, government, and professional sectors.

Join us to inspire women and men, girls and boys from all corners of the community!

The UBC centennial sessions are a series of events and lectures covering various topics from economics to the arts, climate change to global health, all to celebrate UBC’s remarkable achievements over the past 100 years. 100 Years WISE will be one of the featured events, engaging the UBC academic community and the broader public in lively discussions to share ideas, discoveries, research findings and future visions for UBC and the world.

This event is FREE! Get your tickets here: https://tickets.ubc.ca/online/seatSelect.asp?BOset::WSmap::seatmap::performance_ids=80806DF0-62CA-41CE-BABD-6B62BB48F018

For more information, please visit ubc100.ca/100wise or contact bacanim@mail.ubc.ca.

2016 Alzheimer Update Forum

UBC Clinic for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders invite you to the 2016 Update on Alzheimer disease. This forum will feature some of the foremost experts on a wide variety of topics in Alzheimer disease and other dementias from basic mechanisms to current clinical research and therapy.

The Centre will greatly facilitate the flow of ideas between the research and clinical teams, allowing us to move more rapidly towards reaching our most urgent goal of improving patient care, and aiming for prevention and cure of this disease.

View the program here: (PDF)
For more information, or to RSVP, email alzheimer.events@ubc.ca.

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Building Bridges to Support Individuals with FASD

7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Rm. 3113, Child and Family Research Institute
950 West 28th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

FREE ADMISSION – Everyone is welcome!

Featured speakers:
Dr. James Reynolds, Professor, Queen’s University
Dr. Amy Salmon, Executive Director, CanFASD
Dr. Nina Di Pietro, Research Associate, National Core for Neuroethics, UBC

This forum aims to give communities and individuals affected by FASD an opportunity to hear from researchers and health science experts about the latest developments in FASD diagnosis and treatment, with a focus on challenges and opportunities for improving access to supports and services.

For more information, please visit www.neuroethicscanada.ca.

FASD Community Forum

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think

Scientific American

The great divide between our beliefs, our ideals, and reality.

Nicholas Fitz writes for the Scientific American on social mobility and economic inequality on recent article, Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think.

He writes, “by overemphasizing individual mobility, we ignore important social determinants of success like family inheritance, social connections, and structural discrimination.” 

Click here to read more: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/