Lobes and Robes

Neuroscience for Everyone! Advances in neuroscience have important implications for the development of policies designed to meet looming challenges in health care, aging, education, bioethics, child welfare, environmental and national security. Furthermore, addiction, violent crime, dementia, and obesity pose threats to our well-being that are unlikely to be addressed effectively without the translation of sound behavioral and neuroscience into effective public policy and law. Lobes and Robes, a new podcast developed by the Department of Neuroscience in cooperation with the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law, brings scientists and policymakers together to address some of the most pressing problems of our time. Lobes and Robes is produced by the American University’s Center for Neuroscience and Behavior shares dispatches from the intersection of law, science, and public policy.

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23 hours ago

Alzheimer’s Disease and similar late-life dementias pose serious threats to human health and well-being.  These cognitive disorders can be devastating not only for patients, but also for the family members and friends that care for them. Dr. Gayatri Devi, MD, a nationally recognized neurologist and author of the influential book, ”A Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias,” shares with us her extensive knowledge about memory and cognitive dysfunction and her innovative treatment approaches.  Dr. Devi proposes that precision medicine will be the treatment modality of choice in the future and that, through it, we will be seeing significant improvements in the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Tuesday May 07, 2024

The desire to lose weight is pervasive in our society.  Some people want to lose a few pounds to look better while for many others weight loss can help to reduce serious threats to their health and well-being.  Historically, dieting as a means of losing excess pounds, and keeping lost weight off, has produced disappointing results for many people. However, there are surgical and, more recently, pharmacological interventions that can produce significant and sustained weight loss. But are such treatment safe as well as effective?  And how do they work? On this episode, Dr. Randy Seeley of the University of Michigan School of Medicine addresses questions about the effectiveness and safety of both bariatric surgery and the new GLP-1 agonist drugs  (e.g., Ozempic, Wegovy, Mountjaro) in producing and sustaining weight loss.

Monday Jul 03, 2023

This episode builds from Dr. Khohkar’s interview in our last episode in which he outlines the many ways in which discrimination and hate-based behavior have been shown to have negative effects on the brain, both for those subject to such behavior and perpetrators, as well as bystanders and others. In this episode we talk with expert psychologist Dr. Linda McGhee, whose fields of specialization include the treatment of the psychological effects of racial trauma. Dr. McGhee discusses her background, her current areas of focus, and the approaches she uses, including liberation-based trauma treatment. She also offers suggestions about how academic disciplines and other institutions can engage in self-assessment to improve opportunities for access and success for traditionally excluded outsiders including racial minorities and others.

Tuesday Jun 20, 2023

In this episode, with neuroscientist and anti-discrimination advocate Dr. Jibran Khokhar, we explore the effects on the brain of experience with race-based and other identity group-based discrimination including Islamophobia. Dr. Khokhar discusses findings from neuroscientific, psychological and epidemiological studies that reveal the adverse health effects of experiencing such discrimination, including increased risks for depression, anxiety, stress and suicide. He also discusses evidence indicating that heightened activity in the amygdala, a brain structure associated with fear and anxiety, is a significant consequence of being indirectly exposed to such discrimination via the media or other sources. Based on these findings, taking care to avoid implicit bias and to promote racial, religious and other forms of inclusion and equity in academic settings and other institutions, may provide a way to address these sources of harm.

Tuesday Jun 06, 2023

This episode puts previous guest Dr. Tara White in dialogue with Professor James May of Delaware Law School, an expert on human rights law and dignity jurisprudence. Along with our cohosts, Dr. White and Prof. May explore the many points of overlap between dignity neuroscience and the principles of human rights law. They discuss issues including human agency, the right to be free from fear and want, and the emerging consilience between the principles of human rights law and what science shows about the resources the brain needs for healthy development. The discussion ventures into future potential directions for inquiry highlighted in exploring these subjects together.

What is Dignity Neuroscience?

Thursday May 11, 2023

Thursday May 11, 2023

In this episode we interview Dr. Tara White, a neuroscientist who studies issues at the intersection of neuroscience and psychology, including how individuals make meaning and feel and act on a sense of agency in their lives. We focus on an exciting term Dr. White recently coined, “dignity neuroscience,” to describe the links between the findings of neuroscience about what conditions promote human development and learning and the human rights principles that international human rights law scholars have identified. We further discuss Dr. White’s view that there is an emerging consilience about the core concept of human dignity and explore how this idea might be converted into policy objectives.

Tuesday May 09, 2023

Neuroscientist Dr. Laurie Bayet, a professor in the department of neuroscience at AU who focuses on the study of infant cognition, discusses her path-breaking research on the cognitive development of the infant brain. Dr. Bayet discusses her and others’ work on how babies see and come to understand the world around them. She explains some of the creative techniques used to study what infants are perceiving and thinking and describes some of the paths forward for future research and possible policy outcomes.

Tuesday Apr 25, 2023

In this podcast, we meet Dr. Colin Saldanha, a professor in the neuroscience department at AU who talks with us about his research on hormones and the brain. He discusses the fascinating findings coming out about the role of estrogens in both male and female brains. Dr. Saldanha discusses hormonal change over the life span, the reasons cycling occurs in females but not males, and the similarities and differences in hormonal activities and brain structure, on average, in males and females. The conversation also turns to some of the connections between genetics, hormonal effects, and sex differentiation in the development of the fetus. Dr Saldanha talks about the importance of doing medical research on both males and females, noting differences in how males and females may process some pharmaceuticals as one example, and other topics.

Monday Apr 24, 2023

Dr. Jay Schulkin, a guest speaker on the Lobes & Robes Podcast: Session 2, Episode 1, passed away recently after a short illness. He will be remembered as "an outstanding researcher, scholar, colleague, and friend" - Dr. Terry Davidson, Trone Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Neuroscience and Behavior Department of Neuroscience, American University. 

Wednesday Mar 29, 2023

This episode features Dr. Jay Schulkin, a noted author and neuroscientist with training in philosophy. We explore the connections between the development of neuroscience as a discipline and the rise of the classical pragmatist philosophers, including John Dewey, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, as well as the proto-pragmatist jurist Oliver Wendell Jones, Jr. What are the connections between the start of experimental psychology in the U.S. and the rise of classical pragmatism? Dr. Schulkin discusses Holmes’ interest in behavioral sciences, statistical inference, rigorous experimental design, and the prediction of human behavior, including the actions of judges. We explore how one might draw the line between neuroscience and other disciplines. Finally we explore the perennial question: What are the alternatives to determinism as an orientation for neuroscience?


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