Brain enhancement focus of BU symposium

For immediate release: April 11, 2012

BLOOMSBURG — Brain enhancement is the focus of the 21st annual Health Sciences Symposium and Wellness Fair at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday, April 26 and 27.

Dr. Martha Farah The keynote speaker, Martha Farah, director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, will present a lecture, “The Effects of Brain Enhancement Drugs,” Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Haas Center for the Arts, Mitrani Hall. She will also offer a workshop, “Brain Enhancement: Personal and Societal Implications,” Friday at 9 a.m. in Kehr Union, Ballroom. All events are free and open to the public.

Farah has worked in the experimental psychology department at Harvard University and the metallurgy and materials science department at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on what has become known as “neuroethics,” or the “ethical, legal and social implications of neuroscience.”

Specifically, Farah’s research centers on brain-enhancing neuropsychiatric medications. These medications not only improve brain function in patients with cognitive and emotional disorders, but in some cases they may raise healthy people’s functioning, as well. For example, students may seek to enhance their attention level with prescription stimulants in order to study more efficiently. Despite this trend, the effect of these medications on cognition in healthy young adults is not well understood and raises serious ethical questions.

The two-day Health Sciences Symposium will be filled with speakers, demonstrations and information regarding brain function and wellness. It is sponsored by the Provost Lecture Series, the Berwick Health and Wellness Foundation Health Sciences Symposium Fund and the Science and Health Sciences Living and Learning Community. A wellness fair featuring displays and information on healthy lifestyles also is planned in Kehr Union, multipurpose A and B, Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.