Brain Awareness Night 2013

The headline read: "Our children will be the first generation in modern history to live shorter lives than their parents."

It was one of those stories that should have grabbed every reader and shaken them. It was the journalistic equivalent of cold water in the face of every person who thinks that the future only holds promise and progress for his or her children. It was also a call to arms for those of us who care about our community.

That's why the 2013 edition of our Brain Awareness Night is focusing on "how early eating habits affect brain development and childhood obesity." If there's ever been a subject that every parent in the Memphis region should learn more about, it's this one.

Few cities have more to gain by tackling the life-threatening epidemic of obesity, and especially alarming is the growth in childhood obesity. Companions of obesity are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Memphis has some of the highest rates of all U.S. cities in these categories, driving up health care costs to record levels and driving down our civic well-being.

Brain Awareness Night is Thursday, March 21, at The Urban Child Institute, 600 Jefferson Avenue. There will be refreshments from 5:30 until 6:30 PM and presentations will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

The experts speaking at this year's Brain Awareness are Night Dr. John D. Boughter, Jr., Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Dr. Amanda S. Bruce, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dr. Boughter is a leading researcher into how eating releases chemical signals that can lead to overeating. This increase suggests that a chemical reward system is activated that overrides the body's signal that it has eaten enough to restore the energy it needs to function. He will explain how this system, when it is not functioning properly, can lead directly to obesity.

Dr. Bruce is a pioneer in researching the connection between our children's brains and branding and logos. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), she was the first to map how children's brains react to fast food logos. The prefrontal cortex in the brain – which helps with self-control, planning and inhibitions – is the last to mature, and with a majority of food marketed to children being unhealthy and laden with calories, her research is essential to understanding childhood obesity.

Here at The Urban Child Institute, we are unyielding in a core principle: it's all about the science of early childhood brain development. These two medical experts will explain the science and connect the dots between food marketing, sense of taste and eating habits, and describe the consequences of current societal trends on the lives of our children.

It has been said that we need to check in on technology every few months to keep up with the pace of new discoveries. The same is true for the discoveries in the science of brain development. We know more now than every before – and are learning more new things every day – about the healthy development of the brain and how it relates to our emotional, physical, and mental well-being.

Obesity is one of the driving health issues of our time, and what we do today as parents, grandparents, caregivers, and neighborhood leaders may determine if our children live the long lives they deserve.

Brain Awareness Night is March 21st at 5:30!
Train your Brain: How Early Eating Habits Affect Brain Development and Childhood Obesity

Where: The Urban Child Institute, 600 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105

When: Thursday, March 21, 2013
5:30-6:30 PM – Refreshments
6:30-8:30 PM – Presentations

Take a few seconds now to RSVP for Brain Awareness Night.


Dr. John D. Boughter, Jr. -- "How Tricking the Brain's Taste System During Development May Lead to Obesity"
 He will talk about how the sense of taste engages parts of the brain involved in eating and reward, and how dysfunction in these vital systems may occur.

Dr. Amanda S. Bruce -- "Branding and a Child's Brain"
 The relationship between food marketing and childhood obesity is the focus of research using neuroimaging techniques to better understand the brain's role in obesity and neural responses to logos.

For additional information from the guest presenters, follow this link to a guest editorial in The Commercial Appeal.