AUSTIN, Texas—During next week’s “Brain Awareness Week,” people who are interested in how the brain handles caffeine and other research findings can hear 90-second radio programs produced by the university’s Institute for Neuroscience and the producers of StarDate, McDonald Observatory’s astronomy radio program.
Ten episodes of the program, called “BrainWaves,” will air in several of the nation’s top 10 markets, as well as on Armed Forces Radio and on dozens of college and community stations across the country. The radio programs, as well as additional text and illustrations on the brain, are available online at the BrainWaves Web site.
BrainWaves will take listeners on an exploration of the brain and how it works—all in the same entertaining, non-technical language that listeners have come to know from the award-winning StarDate radio program. Program topics include things that touch everyone’s lives, from the fun (caffeine, sleep, sex) to the serious (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, alcohol).
According to Richard Wilcox, executive producer of BrainWaves, now is an exciting time in brain research. Wilcox is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at The University of Texas at Austin.
“The ’90s was the ‘Decade of the Brain,’” he said. “For the first time in the history of mankind, we had measuring devices available to study the brain while it was still functioning—while its owner was still alive. And this is the century that brain scientists are going to make the fundamental discoveries that will keep our brains functioning well as long as we live.
“We all have brains and they can sometimes have problems,” Wilcox said. “Brain Awareness Week would be a good time for people to decide to start paying attention to their brains and their behaviors. People are worried about their parents getting dementia or having strokes, and about their children having depression or ADHD. These are all areas of intense scientific investigation. Tremendous strides are being made now. Things we had not thought possible even a few years ago are becoming routine in laboratories and clinical settings.
“Things are going so fast,” he added. “This is a time that people need to be informed. Policy shifts require people to take responsibility for their own health. People need to understand diseases. If you only get 10 minutes with your doctor, you need to know what questions to ask. People who are better informed get better medical care.”
BrainWaves’ mission is to provide accurate, timely information about brain sciences for the public, develop the public’s passion for science and expand the audience for scientific information. BrainWaves includes a large education component.
“Our BrainWaves team feels strongly about community service,” Wilcox said. “This program will give basic information on neuroscience, based on the StarDate model, and we’ll have more information available on the Web.”
Long-term education goals for the BrainWaves project include classroom activities for teachers.
StarDate producer Damond Benningfield is a consultant for BrainWaves.
“We’re hoping that this is a pilot for a longer-term project,” Benningfield said. “We plan to launch BrainWaves as a permanent radio and Web program.”
The program is sponsored by the following programs at The University of Texas at Austin: the Institute for Neuroscience; UTOPIA; the colleges of Pharmacy, Natural Sciences and Liberal Arts; and the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.
Billy Henry, an Austin vocal talent, actor and musician, is the voice of BrainWaves. The audio engineer is Michael Heidenreich.
For more information contact: Vincent Perez, Marketing Manager, 512-475-6760.