Director’s Update: Thinking about our grant schemes

Originally posted on Wellcome Trust Blog:

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome TrustSince he joined us last year, Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, has been listening – to staff, to researchers, to members of the Wellcome community, and more. In this post he explains how your views have contributed to new ideas about the best ways we can offer our funding…

Nine months ago, I enjoyed the immense privilege of becoming Director of the Wellcome Trust. As a researcher who has long benefited from Trust funding for my own work, I already knew at first hand what a difference its support can make. What I had not fully appreciated was the breadth of outstanding research that the Wellcome Trust makes possible, in biomedical and clinical science, in humanities and social science, and in public engagement.

Over the past months, it has been fascinating to meet so many of the researchers we fund, and to learn how their work is…

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We only use 10% of our brains? That’s 100% wrong

Originally posted on Quartz:

It’s a common conversation starter to assert that we only use 10% of our brains. In Lucy, the soon-to-be-released thriller about a woman forced to work as a drug mule for the Taiwanese mob, Professor Norman [Morgan Freeman] lectures, “It is estimated most human beings only use 10% of their brain’s capacity. Imagine if we could access 100%. Interesting things begin to happen.”

Now, I know Morgan Freeman is well versed in playing the wise sage, and I know that I haven’t earned my PhD yet—but professor, I beg to differ. You see, we all access 100% of our brains every day. And we don’t have to be telekinetic or memorize an entire deck of cards to do it.

In the film, the drugs implanted into Lucy (played by Scarlett Johansson) leak into her system, allowing her to “access 100%” of her brain. Among other things, Lucy can…

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Nucleus reuniens of the thalamus contains head direction cells | eLife

Nucleus reuniens of the thalamus contains head direction cells | eLife.

Maciej M Jankowski, Md Nurul Islam, Nicholas F Wright, Seralynne D Vann, Jonathan T Erichsen, John P Aggleton, Shane M O’Mara

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.03075

Cite as eLife 2014;10.7554/eLife.03075

Abstract
Discrete populations of brain cells signal heading direction, rather like a compass. These ‘head direction’ cells are largely confined to a closely-connected network of sites. We describe, for the first time, a population of head direction cells in nucleus reuniens of the thalamus in the freely-moving rat. This novel subcortical head direction signal potentially modulates the hippocampal CA fields directly and, thus, informs spatial processing and memory.

- See more at: http://elifesciences.org/content/early/2014/07/14/eLife.03075#sthash.V4MrnXxO.dpuf

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Pls RT: Research Professorships: Human Brain Imaging/Cognitive Neuroscience

Research Professorship in Human Brain Imaging – Cognitive Neuroscience

Trinity College Dublin (TCD), in collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), wishes to recruit a number of high calibre Research Professors in targeted scientific areas within the Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) & Sustainable Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors. Funding of up to €5M will be provided to successful candidates for a five-year programme of work.

Ageing/Human Brain Imaging /Cognitive Neuroscience

Trinity College Dublin seeks to appoint an international leader for the Thomas Mitchell Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. The successful candidate will lead the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN), Ireland’s only dedicated neuroscience institute, in its programme of research in brain imaging of cognitive and behavioural processes underpinning age-related loss of cognitive function and novel bio- and neuro-markers of pre-Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Funding Available

As well as an attractive remuneration package candidates successfully recruited to one of the positions listed below can expect to work alongside researchers of international renown in one of the world’s top research-led universities. In addition to this SFI offers €1,000,000 per annum for five years duration to support the research programme costs of the SFI Research Professor and their research group.

Candidate Profile:

Successful candidates will be outstanding researchers in academia or industry, recognised as one of the world-leaders in their discipline, with a demonstrated capacity for strategic and dynamic directorship on an international stage.

As successful candidates will be iconic appointments for Ireland, they will meet many, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Hold a full professorial position, or equivalent, at a major international research university or a senior managerial position in industry
  • Senior author of a considerable volume of papers that have made a significant impact in their field (i.e. highly cited);
  • Recipient of significant international awards and fellowships;
  • Invited plenary speaker at top-tier international conferences;
  • Distinguished service record on national or international grant review boards;
  • Successful track record in securing independent funding from public competitive sources and/or through private investment (typically in excess of €5M);
  • Candidates from industry will demonstrate equivalent measures of esteem (e.g. serving on corporate boards, industry awards or fellowships);
  • Successful track record in technology transfer, technology commercialisation and academic-industrial collaborations.

For further information please contact:

Prof. Ian Robertson, School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin
ian.robertson@tcd.ie
or
Prof. Shane O’Mara, Director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin
shane.omara@tcd.ie

 

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The key to a more productive classroom is more recess

Originally posted on Quartz:

Like a zombie, Sami—one of my fifth graders—lumbered over to me and hissed, “I think I’m going to explode! I’m not used to this schedule.” And I believed him. An angry red rash was starting to form on his forehead.

Yikes, I thought. What a way to begin my first year of teaching in Finland. It was only the third day of school and I was already pushing a student to the breaking point. When I took him aside, I quickly discovered why he was so upset.

Throughout this first week of school, I had gotten creative with my fifth grade timetable. Normally, students and teachers in Finland take a 15-minute break after every 45 minutes of instruction. During a typical break, students head outside to play and socialize with friends while teachers disappear to the lounge to chat over coffee.

I didn’t see the point of these…

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Mere information provision doesn’t change people’s minds. But there might be another way…

Originally posted on A Brain for Business:

How politics makes us stupid – Vox. Worth a full read – summarises an important literature on why information provision alone will not cause people to change their minds on issues they feel deeply about.

Money quote:

[Dan] Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values.” Elsewhere, he puts it even more pithily: “What we believe about the facts,” he writes, “tells us who we are.” And the most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are, and our relationships with the people we trust and love.

More on Dan Kahan.

So how can you change people’s minds about something they are profoundly and emotionally connected to, and which invests their lives with meaning and connectedness? The brilliant Gerd…

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