Vote for the winner of the Mind Science BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Contest
Until October 17, you can vote for the neuroscientist you think is working on the most promising brain research.
The nonprofit Mind Science has selected three research teams for its 2022 neuroscience pitch competition.
Launched in 2018, the BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition funds promising research by early-career neuroscientists teaming up with Principal Investigators. Supporting their pilot studies can help young researchers demonstrate proof of concept when applying for grants that can support further investigation.
The researchers recorded short videos (hyperlinked in each of the three descriptions below) describing their breakthrough ideas in neuroscience. Finalists also benefit from Mind Science’s mentorship as they learn to translate complex neuroscience when addressing a general audience.
Each finalist is guaranteed funding of $30,000. The general public voted online for the best video for an additional $10,000 People’s Choice prize.
Vote here by October 17 for the neuroscientist you think is working on the most promising research after viewing their video presentations. Anyone can participate in the vote. The 2022 finalists are:
• Paolo Cardone, University of Liège, Belgium
• Karen Konkoly, Northwestern University
• Breeanne Soteros, PhD, UT Health San Antonio
Mind Science will announce the winner on October 20.
Paolo Cardone studies consciousness at GIGA-Consciousness, the University of Liège in Belgium. Cardone would use the Mind Science funding to build on the established link between brain complexity and consciousness, investigating whether psychedelics can be used to increase brain complexity, and therefore, consciousness, in post-comatose patients. diagnosed with impaired consciousness.
When our brain is engaged in an activity, it shows more complexity than when a person is asleep or in a coma. However, patients with impaired consciousness after severe brain injury may show signs of arousal (eg, eye opening) but have low brain complexity. These patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state may survive a coma only to show little or no signs of consciousness, unable to respond to a simple request like “shake my hand”.
“We don’t currently have a cure,” Cardone said. “This condition can last a lifetime, sometimes leading to devastating end-of-life decisions.”
Karen Konkoly studies how we can dream on demand. In her research at Northwestern University, she strives to develop methods to get someone to dream of on-demand content.
“We aim to provide the first demonstration of experimentally controlled dream content in real time and explore how this can inform us about dream functions,” Konkoly said. “The practical applications of curated dream content are also very extensive – imagine being able to compose the dream you wish you had tonight.”
Finding practical methods will allow neuroscientists to harness the benefits of dreaming while avoiding the dysfunctional dreams that characterize many psychological disorders.
Dr. Breeanne Soteros, a researcher at UT Health San Antonio, is researching ways to protect the brain during prolonged social isolation.
Prolonged isolation can disrupt our ability to think and impair our memory – as many experienced firsthand during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Since social interaction isn’t always possible, Soteros plans to study how the brain cuts synapses – the connections between neurons – during periods of prolonged isolation.
The brain prunes excess synapses as it matures to help make neural processing more efficient, a necessary process as we grow into adults. When the elimination is excessive, excessive pruning can destroy brain connections, leading to the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
“The answer may not be to take a supplement, but rather to ensure that we always find meaningful ways to connect with other people,” Soteros said.
Last year’s recipient, Dr. Ben Rein, will use his Mind Science-funded research grant to study how early experiences shape the social development of our brains, at Stanford University.
“We know how social isolation affects the brain, but we haven’t studied the role that social interaction plays in how the brain controls social function,” Rein said. “The award will allow me to explore this research question which I believe is extremely important.”
Oilman and philanthropist Tom Slick founded Mind Science in 1958 as a non-profit organization dedicated to funding scientific research and education that explores what Slick called the “vast potential of the human mind”. .
“The more we can support early-career neuroscientists, the greater our impact,” said Meriam Good, President and CEO of Mind Science. “It is more important than ever to invest in young scientists who are exploring the frontiers of human consciousness.”
The 2022 BrainStorm platinum sponsors are Drs. Alice and Sergio Viroslav. To learn more about Mind Science or to donate, click here. To vote for the BrainStorm Neuroscience pitch competition, click here.