NIH funds $8 Million Grant for EBRL Research

The first few years of an infant’s life are vastly important for development. Long before enrolling in school, elements of their environment can affect the trajectories of children’s outcomes for the rest of their lives. In an effort to studies these environmental factors, the National Institutes of Health have awarded Vanderbilt a grant as part of a multi-institutional overview of variables influencing infant and child brain development, including substance exposure.

Substance use in pregnant women has increased over the past decade, highlighting the importance of efforts to understand how environmental and other exposures during pregnancy affect brain development and child outcomes. The PRELUDE consortium for the HEALthy Brain and Child Development study will recruit 2720 pregnant women in the 2nd and 3rd trimester and follow their children to age 10, using neuroimaging, behavioral assessments, EEG, biosample collection, and assessments of parent-child interaction and the home environment. This research will lead to greater understanding of factors affecting early childhood brain development, allowing targeted interventions and improved outcomes for mother-child dyads.

If you’d like to learn more about the study, you can learn more about it here or here.

Dr. Mercedes Spencer Receives the Rebecca L. Sandak Award

The Rebecca L. Sandak Award

“The Rebecca L. Sandak Young Investigator Award was established in 2008 to honor the memory of Rebecca Sandak, who died before her research goals and ideas could be fully realized. The award is intended to recognize a gifted young reading researcher who shows outstanding promise and dedication to the field. “

We’ve long known Dr. Spencer’s passion and dedication when it comes to research, so it is always nice when such inspiration and skill is recognized by others in the field. The Education and Brain Research Lab heartily congratulates her on her well-earned recognition. We fully expect to congratulate her on many more in the future.

If you would like to find out more about the award and it’s origin, please follow this link.

2021 Award winner: Mercedes Spencer and Annie Yixun Li
2020 Award winner: Marc Goodrich and Elizabeth Stevens
2019 Award winner: Florina Erbeli
2018 Award winner: Jamie Quinn
2017 Award winner: Laura Steacy
2016 Award winner: Maaike Vandermosten
2015 Award winners: Elsje van Bergen and Elizabeth Tighe
2014 Award winners: Suzanne Adlof and Sara Hart
2013 Award winner: Fabienne Chetail
2012 Award winner: Elizabeth Norton
2011 Award winners: Yaacov Petscher and Jennifer Gilbert
2010 Award winner: Eva Marinus
2009 Award winner: Rebecca Betjemann
2008 Award winner: Shelley Xiuli Tong

EBRL now Recruiting for a Brain-Based Learning Enhancement study

The Education and Brain Sciences Research Laboratory is now recruiting for a study investigating Brain-based Learning Enhancement. Adults between the ages of 18-40 who are native English speakers are invited to participate. The study includes: Initial eligibility screening, and 3-4 study visits. Visit 1 includes MRI, EEG, non-invasive brain stimulation, and behavioral testing. Visits 2 and 3 include non-invasive brain simulation sessions and behavioral testing. Some individuals may be asked to complete an EEG. Some participants may be invited for a Visit 4, which includes MRI, EEG, and behavioral testing.

For participating, you will receive an E-gift card for $50 for each study visit, plus a $50 completion bonus for finishing all parts of the study.

If you would like to participate, please contact Dr. Katherine Aboud at Katherine.Aboud@vanderbilt.edu

Flyer for Brain-Based Learning Enhancement Study

EBRL and Distant Research

We at EBRL hope that you are doing well during these challenging times, even as things continue to open and close.

In the past few weeks and months, we’ve been hard at work, doing data collection in tandem with many of our colleagues across the nation, switching to remote testing. Even though we’ve been stuck at home like so many of you, the research hasn’t stopped. Through remote tech, we’ve still been interacting with our participants and been collecting data as much as possible. Sadly, we are unable to take the MRI scanner home due to some portability issues (we’ll figure it out one day).

(Pictured Above, Portability Issues of a Giant Magnet like an MRI)

Anyways, though we are unable to take MRI data, there are still plenty of tests, games, and data we can collect with participants remotely. Soon, we might be able to start seeing participants in person again, but for now there’s plenty for us to do.

As always, you can check on the latest updates on Coronavirus from Vanderbilt at: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/coronavirus/

 

For now, it seems like we may be seeing participants as soon as Fall, but as always, we will be keeping our participants updated as things go along. If you have any questions or want to participate in one of our studies, you can always email us at educationbrain@vanderbilt.edu .

COVID-19 Response and Our Research

We at EBRL hope that you and yours are doing well and staying safe in this unprecedented health event going on in the United States and across the world.

 

The times we are in are difficult for research and we here at the Education and Brain Science Research Lab are committed to the health and safety of both the participants and staff of our lab. Vanderbilt University itself has implemented social distancing measures on campus to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 (corona) virus into the further community and keep high risk individuals protected.  To that end, on campus visits for research have temporarily been suspended for the next few weeks and all staff are currently working virtually from home. We will keep in close contact with our currently scheduled participants in the upcoming weeks and keep them appraised of the situation as it develops, but if you would like to stay up to date on Vanderbilt’s response to the ongoing health crisis and find out more about how to protect yourself, go here: (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/coronavirus/)

 

We will be in close contact with our participants going forward, and will keep everyone informed as things progress. In the meantime, the lab has gone off-site in the best practice of social distancing. To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus on your own, please see this guide on some general rules and guidelines that might help.

EBRL’s Tin Nguyen Awarded for His Research!

 

Members of the Mind Science Foundation pitch competition awarded Education and Brain Research Lab’s own Tin Nguyen the Tom Slick Research Award in Consciousness on the evening of October the 15th! This seed money will go towards his future research and will be an amazing stepping stone towards his future career! Here the lab we couldn’t be happier for him and we are more than excited to see where he goes in the future!

Tin’s research involves investigating what makes certain children from poverty more resilient and thrive academically and others not. He hopes that understanding what makes certain children more resilient can be a first step towards mitigating the negative impacts of childhood poverty.

 

Read more here. 

BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition, EBRL Asks: What Creates Resiliency in Children in Poverty? (Oct.15)

(The following has been a reduced version of an article first posted here.)

Join members of the Education Brain and Research Laboratory and the Mind Science Foundation for a night of science driven by brilliant young researchers! Three teams will pitch their brain research projects as they compete for their shot at a $60,000 pot. Illusionist Mark Mitton will be watching over the proceedings as well as lending his own particular magic to the event as audience members cast their votes and decide who takes home the top prize of $30,000!

The second annual BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition is Oct. 15 at the Pearl Stable and begins with a member reception at 5:30 p.m. before the 6:30 p.m. program. This event is open to the public with purchase of a ticket and is free for Mind Science Foundation members.

The purpose of the Foundation’s research funding program is to improve health and well-being in humankind through scientific advances in the study of consciousness. This year, finalists’ work can: provide a deeper understanding of the brain’s role in providing resilience in children raised in poverty, use virtual reality as a treatment for anxiety disorders, and “hack” brain systems using mindfulness meditation to strengthen personal traits of self-control and autonomy.

What is the contribution of EBRL you might ask? Well, the research team of Laurie Cutting, Stephanie Del Tufo, and Tin Nguyen from EBRL seek to find an answer to the question: What creates resiliency in children raised in poverty?

Children from poverty have less access to health care and nutrition, as well as limited academic support. These experiences often result in poor classroom performance, and in the most extreme cases, academic failure. Yet despite living in poverty, some children manage to thrive and excel in school. These children are thought to have resilience, and for the purposes of this study, by demonstrating positive academic outcomes despite living in poverty. Graduate student Tin Nguyen’s pitch seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the relationships between resilience, brain structure, and enriching home reading environments in children subject to adversity or poverty. Understanding what makes children resilient can be a first step towards mitigating the negative impacts of childhood poverty.

Join EBRL at VKC Science Day on Tues., Sept. 17, 2019

Fans of science and psychology can join members of the Education and Brain Research Lab at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Science Day. The annual promotion and gathering of scientific minds gives those within the Kennedy Center a chance to exchange ideas and interact with each other’s research. Events will include a keynote address, two poster sessions, as well as lunch and a closing wine and cheese reception.

 

Find out more details here and register to attend (closes Thurs. Sept. 12) at the VKC website:

https://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/vkc/scienceday/

Congratulations 2019 Vanderbilt Graduates!

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EBRL is very proud to be the home to a large amount of talented individuals. Over time sadly those people may come and go, but we are always overjoyed to celebrate their successes along the way. This is the start of so many wonderful things for so many people in our lab and we couldn’t be happier for them.

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Congratulations 2019 graduates! Onwards ever higher!