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Nerd Nite #68 - The Brain "Wants" What The Brain Wants

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 8:37am

Over the course of evolution our brains have become excellent at detecting rewards (e.g. food or a potential mate) in our environment and in turn generating motivation to obtain that reward. While this system was originally necessary for survival, it can easily become maladaptive in a world where access to rewards (such as high-calorie food, drugs and alcohol, gambling) are present in abundance. Unfortunately, this reward detection system can become hypersentitive in some individuals, in turn causing excessive desire and craving each time they come across a reward cue in their world. This talk addresses how and why this reward system can become dysregulated in some individuals. Answering these questions will help scientists discover new treatment options for individuals living with addiction or psychiatric disorder. 

About Erin Naffziger:

Erin is a PhD Candidate in Biopsychology at the University of Michigan studying how the brain creates the psychological processes: desire and craving. She wants to know how motivation is generated in the brain and how it may become dysregulated in mental illnesses. When she’s not playing with rats or using lasers to activate the brain, she enjoys true crime podcasts and hanging out with her elderly cat.

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Exploring the Mind | 7 Ways Children's Storytelling Skills Impact Literacy Development

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 8:39am

Join Assistant Professor Nicole Gardner-Neblett of the University of Michigan for her presentation on the importance of storytelling in the development of literacy skills, and learn some strategies for supporting young children as storytellers.

Did you know that by the time a child is two or three years old they can tell a simple story? These early storytelling skills can help children develop a strong foundation for building later reading and writing skills. Research suggests that opportunities to practice telling stories helps children develop stronger language skills and a better understanding of how stories are structured. This presentation reviews seven ways that young children's storytelling skills can impact their literacy development. 

Nicole Gardner-Neblett, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist whose work focuses on the individual and contextual factors that promote children’s language and literacy development. She adopts a strengths-based approach to understanding children’s development and identifying effective practices to transform the early learning experiences of young children. In particular, Dr. Gardner-Neblett’s work examines the oral narrative, or storytelling, skills of African American children and the implications for literacy development and educational practice.

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Author Event | William D. Lopez: Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid

Mon, 03/02/2020 - 12:26pm

In Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid, local author William D. Lopez examines the lasting damage done by this daylong act of collaborative immigration enforcement in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Exploring the chaos of enforcement through the lens of community health, Lopez discusses deportation's rippling negative effects on families, communities, and individuals. Focusing on those left behind, Lopez reveals their efforts to cope with trauma, avoid homelessness, handle worsening health, and keep their families together as they attempt to deal with a deportation machine that is militarized, traumatic and implicitly racist. 

This event was part of the 2020 Washtenaw Reads. For more information about Washtenaw Reads and previous years' reads, visit wread.org.

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Legacies Project Oral History: David Northcross

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:56am

David Northcross was born in 1937 and grew up in north central Detroit. His grandfather David C. Northcross Sr. established the first Black-owned hospital in Detroit, Mercy General Hospital, in 1917. His grandmother, father, and aunt also worked at the hospital. Interested in pursuing a different path, David Northcross graduated from Michigan State University and joined the Marine Corps. He was one of three or four other Black officers at Camp Pendleton in California. After a few years, he and his wife Shirley moved back to Detroit and Northcross started his lifelong career as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch.

David Northcross was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project.

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Legacies Project Oral History: Anna Noble

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:40am

Anna Noble was born in the early 1920s and grew up in Pittsburgh with 11 siblings. She worked as a launderer as a young woman. She applied to several nursing schools, but faced discrimination due to segregation. She attended Mercy Douglass School of Nursing in Philadelphia, which was an all-Black nursing school. In 1950, Noble moved to Detroit to take a nursing position at Haynes Memorial Hospital. She became the director of nursing at DMC Harper University Hospital, where she worked for 23 years. Later in life, she volunteered at the Lula Belle Stewart Center, which offered parenting assistance to single mothers.

Anna Noble was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project

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Artificial Intelligence, Personalized Technology, and Mental Health

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 8:42am

AI and personalized technologies are transforming everyday life. They facilitate individualized information delivery, offer personalized monitoring strategies, and opportunities for specific therapy. They enable innovative tools and health-focused applications that empower individuals, their friends and families, to track and learn their emotional patterns in order to strengthen support systems. Join us for an evening of AI to engage with University of Michigan experts as they discuss the implications of using AI for mental health care:

  • How will AI and personalized technologies fit into the mental health care system? 
  • Who benefits? How? 
  • How do we measure outcomes? 

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Kick the Sugar Craving

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 12:30pm

Join health coach Jennifer Sprague to learn about sugar cravings, what sugar does to the body, and why it's so hard to cut sugar out of your diet. She provides tips for getting unstuck when it comes to sugar.

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Exploring the Mind | Adversity Resilience and the Developing Brain

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 11:52am

Join Dr. Christopher Monk, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience & CHGD Research Professor at the University of Michigan, as he characterizes the developmental risks of childhood adversity and discusses the social and biological mechanisms that may explain the striking degree of resilience found in the adolescent brain.

Childhood adversity, such as growing up in poverty or experiencing parental neglect, is associated with a host of negative outcomes, including depression and low educational attainment. Although it is understood that these types of adversity alter the brain and increase the risk for problems, it is not known what forms of adversity are most pernicious and how they affect the brain. In the presentation, Dr. Monk describes a study comprised predominantly of adolescents from low-income backgrounds who have been followed since birth. Using brain imaging methods, Dr. Monk shows how two specific and chronic forms of adversity, violence exposure and social deprivation, impact brain development in different ways.  At the same time, the adolescents show a striking degree of resilience, despite the challenging circumstances. 

Dr. Monk is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. He is also a Research Professor in the Survey Research Center at ISR and the Center for Human Growth and Development. Dr. Monk received his PhD in Child Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. He then went on to the NIMH Intramural Research Program where he was a postdoc and later a fellow. His research program involves two active and related lines of research. In the first line, he is examining how poverty-related stressors and the developmental timing of those stressors impact brain development, stress hormone regulation and anxiety as well as depression symptoms during adolescence. For the second line of research, he is investigating how effective treatments for anxiety (cognitive behavioral therapy or medication) alter brain function and how these brain alterations relate to clinical outcome in children and adolescents.

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Author Event | Cecile Richards Discusses Her Book "Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead"

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 11:48am

Cecile Richards has been an activist since she was taken to the principal’s office in seventh grade for wearing an armband in protest of the Vietnam War. Richards had an extraordinary childhood in ultra-conservative Texas, where her civil rights attorney father and activist mother taught their kids to be troublemakers. She had a front-row seat to observe the rise of women in American politics and watched her mother, Ann, transform from a housewife to an electrifying force in the Democratic party.

As a young woman, Richards worked as a labor organizer alongside women earning minimum wage, and learned that those in power don’t give it up without a fight. She experienced first-hand the misogyny, sexism, fake news, and the ever-looming threat of violence that constantly confront women who challenge authority.

Now, after years of advocacy, resistance, and progressive leadership, she shares her “truly inspiring” (Redbook) story for the first time—from the joy and heartbreak of activism to the challenges of raising kids, having a life, and making change, all the while garnering a reputation as “the most badass feminist EVER” (Teen Vogue).