new university center

It’s filled with promise, with beauty, with the ambitions, dreams, and principles of millions of people; how could anyone name it? The City of Dreams, the City that Never Sleeps, the Center of the Universe, the Concrete Jungle- nothing compares to the name which I know it by: the City of my Soul.
—  L.W.; 2015

Okay but do you know what I really, really love about Rebecca Sugar? Do you know why she’s my freakin’ inspiration?

  • she is twenty seven years old. TWENTY SEVEN. AND LOOK WHAT SHE HAS DONE
  • she’s one of the creative minds behind a hit television show that has positive messages and cute animation and real-life relatable situations / characters LIKE SHE DOES SO MUCH FOR IT SHE’S THE CREATOR, THE EXEC PRODUCER, A WRITER, A STORYBOARDER AND A FREAKIN’ SONGWRITER. this woman is a quintuple threat.
  • her work on Adventure Time got two emmy nominations and a Annie award nomination
  • once upon a time she was a nerd like me and you writing Invader Zim fanfiction and shit like that.
  • she drew album art for a hit singer
  • she was a storyboard artist for the 2012 movie Hotel Transylvania; that is a big step considering the film is made by Sony which is a hella big corporation and she started with Cartoon Network

So for a fifteen year old aspiring screenwriter, you can see why I love her.


BSU Duals - 2016-01-23 - 0103 - DSC_0731 bw by Lewis Day
Via Flickr:  
I see what that eagle is going for…it needs a branch to rest on 

Infantile Memory Study Points to Critical Periods in Early-Life Learning for Brain Development

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten—a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.

“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions.”

The other authors of the study, conducted in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, included: Alessio Travaglia, a post-doctoral researcher at NYU; Reto Bisaz, an NYU research scientist at the time of the study; Eric Sweet, a post-doctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai; and Robert Blitzer, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai.

In their study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers examined the mechanisms of infantile memory in rats—i.e., memories created 17 days after birth. This is the equivalent of humans under the age of three and when memories of who, what, when, and where–known as episodic memories–are rapidly forgotten. The phenomenon, referred as to “infantile or childhood amnesia,” is in fact the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories that took place during the first two to four years of life.

In addressing this matter, Alberini and her colleagues compared rats’ infantile memory with that when they reached 24 days old—that is, when they are capable of forming and retaining long-term memories and at an age that roughly corresponds to humans at six to nine years old.

The episodic memory tested in the rodents was the memory of an aversive experience: a mild foot shock received upon entering in a new place. Adult rats, like humans, remember unpleasant or painful experiences that they had in specific places, and then avoid returning to them.  

To do so, rodents were placed in a box divided into two compartments: a “safe” compartment and a “shock” compartment. During the experiment, each rat was placed in the safe compartment with its head facing away from the door. After 10 seconds, the door separating the compartments was automatically opened, allowing the rat access to the shock compartment. If the rat entered the shock compartment, it received a mild foot shock.

The first set of results was not surprising. The authors found infantile amnesia for the 17 day-old rats, which showed avoidance of the “shock” compartment right after the experience, but lost this memory very rapidly: a day later these rats quickly returned to this compartment. In contrast, the rats exposed to the shock compartment at 24 days of life learned and retained the memory for a long time and avoided this place—revealing a memory similar to that of adult rats.

However, remarkably, the younger rats, which had apparently forgotten the initial experience, subsequently showed they actually had kept a trace of the memory. When, later in life, these rats were prompted with reminders—i.e., they were presented with recollections of the context and the foot shock—they indicated having a specific memory, which was revealed by their avoidance of the specific context in which they received a shock at day 17 of life. These findings show how early life experience, although not expressed or remembered, can influence adult life behavior.  

The findings raised the following question: what is occurring—neurologically—that explains why memories are retained by the younger rats only in a latent form but are stored and expressed long-term by older ones? Or, more specifically, what occurs during development that enhances the ability to form lasting memories?

To address this, the scientists focused on the brain’s hippocampus, which previous scholarship has shown is necessary for encoding new episodic memories. Here, in a series of experiments similar to the box tests, they found that if the hippocampus was inactive, the ability of younger rats to form latent memories and recall them later by reminders as they got older was diminished. They then found that mechanisms of “critical periods” are fundamental for establishing these infantile memories.  

A critical period is a developmental stage during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If, during this period, the organism does not receive the appropriate stimuli required to develop a given function, it may be difficult or even impossible to develop that function later in life. Well-known examples of critical period-based functions are sensory functions, like vision, and language acquisition.

The study shows that there is a critical period for episodic learning and that during this period the hippocampus learns to become able to efficiently process and store memories long-term.

“Early in life, while the brain cannot efficiently form long-term memories, it is ‘learning’ how to do so, making it possible to establish the abilities to memorize long-term,” explains Alberini. “However, the brain needs stimulation through learning so that it can get in the practice of memory formation—without these experiences, the ability of the neurological system to learn will be impaired.”  

These studies, the researchers observe, suggest that using learning and environmental interventions during a critical period may significantly help to address learning disabilities.

Minutes and follow-up-related-things will be coming at you from this Tumblr and our email address (email to get updates and notifications of upcoming meetings) in the coming days. There is much to say…

Until then, feast your eyes. Amended fifth floor bathroom sign. There are two of them (more on that later…). Yep. It’s real.
Why Sleep Is a Matter of Racial Justice
Black Americans aren’t sleeping as well as whites. Here’s why that’s a public-health problem—and what can be done to fix it.
By Brian Resnick

Some of the more practical research aimed at helping black Americans to sleep better is being conducted by Girardin Jean-Louis, a charismatic Haitian-born psychologist who runs a lab dedicated to sleep and health disparities at New York University’s Center for Healthful Behavior Change. When I first started reporting on this topic, Jean-Louis’s name was brought up in just about every conversation. “What I think is innovative about what Dr. Jean-Louis is doing is that he goes into the community and finds out from the stakeholders what we need to do and works with them,” says Kristen Knutson, a biomedical anthropologist at the University of Chicago who has been studying the link between sleep and health outcomes.

It’s 84 degrees and rising on a Saturday in August when I go to see Jean-Louis’s work in action. In the St. Albans community of Jamaica, Queens, Azizi Seixas—a member of Jean-Louis’s team—takes the stage outside Christ Church International. Congregants and community members sit under tents in the closed-off street adjacent to the church, which, despite its coral-pink bricks, is as nondescript and industrial as the self-storage facility next door.

Seixas is here to recruit participants for a yearlong study that Jean-Louis’s lab is conducting. St. Albans—a working- to middle-class community that is almost entirely black—isn’t the poorest neighborhood in the city, but it suffers from the same stressors as many other minority areas: people working multiple jobs at odd hours; people struggling to pay for mortgages while taking care of their families. “People have two or three jobs—they don’t get enough sleep,” the nurse manning the blood-pressure station tells me. “You come in [from one job], you get five or six minutes sleep—or maybe two hours of sleep—then you have to go out to another job. They don’t realize. They just think, ‘Oh, I’m tired.’ They don’t realize they’re developing a problem that’s greater than being just tired.”

Thirty percent of adult residents in the greater Jamaica area are obese. The death rate from diabetes in Jamaica is higher than in both Queens and New York City as a whole. Jamaica also has one of the highest rates of heart-attack hospitalizations in the city. “When you don’t sleep well, guess what happens?” Seixas asks the crowd from the stage. “Over time, that builds up, and it builds up, and it builds up, and what we have found is that many of the times, the hypertension—the high blood pressure—the diabetes, all those health conditions are associated. They have something to do with sleep.”