Weekly Advocacy News Roundup
March 17, 2016 | Science Magazine
Representative John Culberson (R–TX) says he no longer wants to specify funding levels for individual research directorates at NSF. Culberson, who chairs the House subcommittee that controls NSF’s budget, made his comments last week and if true to his word, would represent a significant victory for the U.S. scientists, who have accused him and other congressional Republicans of asserting their own research priorities above those set jointly by the agency and working researchers.
- Watch a webinar about how federal funding affects your science at SfN.org
March 23, 2016 | The Globe & Mail
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government released its first budget this week and it is clearly directed at bolstering basic research. With increases aimed at both university and federal labs, the budget represents a marked shift away from the Harper government’s strong emphasis on science funding tied to commercial applications and industrial partnerships.
- Read about worldwide neuroscience initiatives at SfN.org.
March 18, 2016 | Science Magazine
Embarrassed by a relative handful of research grants that legislators have mocked in part because of their titles, NSF program officers have been paying more attention to the titles that researchers submit with their grant proposals. This additional scrutiny is paying off - projects funded in 2015 are more than twice as likely to sport new titles as those funded in 2012. The changes have also made the research easier to understand, says NSF’s James Hamos, who is heading up the project.
- Learn about the public funding of neuroscience at SfN.org.
March 18, 2016 | China Daily
China is expected to adopt its first national standard on laboratory animal welfare and ethics by the end of the year, marking a major legislative breakthrough for the protection of animals used in research and testing by the pharmaceutical and other industries. The draft, which is available for public opinion until Sunday, is expected to greatly improve the welfare of laboratory animals in China, according to Sun Deming, chairman of the Welfare and Ethics Committee of the Chinese Association for Laboratory Animal Sciences.
- See resources for supporting scientists and institutions engaged in animal research at SfN.org.
Articles of Interest
Although the theory of ‘ego depletion’ from too much decision-making is well established, a new study has found in 2,000 participants across more than 20 labs, "a zero-effect for ego depletion: No sign that the human will works as it’s been described, or that these hundreds of studies amount to very much at all." How could hundreds of peer-reviewed studies possibly be so wrong? Psychologists are now realizing their institutions are structured so it's more likely that false positives will make it through to publication than inconclusive results.
- Read about steps SfN has taken to tackle concerns of scientific rigor at SfN.org.
March 16, 2015 | Nautilus
Last year, a team at MIT made news by locating a neural pathway activated by music and music alone. The group played a total of 165 commonly heard natural sounds to ten subjects. The sounds included a man speaking, a songbird, a car horn, a flushing toilet, and a dog barking. None sparked the same population of neurons as music. Their discovery that certain neurons have “music selectivity” stirs questions about the role of music in human life. Why do our brains contain music-selective neurons? Could some evolutionary purpose have led to neurons devoted to music?
- Learn more about music and the brain at BrainFacts.org.
March 15, 2016 | Undark Magazine
The scientific community has been having a lively debate about the so-called “war on science,” including its causes and, indeed, whether or not it is really a war at all. Democrats bash Republicans for “anti-science” stances on issues from climate change to contraception to gun control, while conservative pundits counter by crying hypocrisy when liberals are down on biotech and nuclear power. These disputes are less of a “war on science,” rather, it’s better to think of science as a front in many ongoing political battles.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed on issues of neuroscience and policy.
March 14, 2016 | The Hill
As Brain Awareness Week was celebrated this month, support for efforts to better understand the brain seem to be gaining tremendous momentum. Tremendous efforts have been directed toward a better understanding of how the human brain works and fails to work, especially over the last decade. But we have only begun to scratch the surface. We need to make some changes in order to get to the next level.
- Read more about SfN’s 2016 Hill Day at SfN.org.
March 17, 2016 | Pacific Standard
Academics in the United Kingdom have been up in arms since early February, when the government announced that any grant money it provides can't be used for lobbying purposes. This could be a serious threat to public health if it prevents publicly funded scientists—as opposed to private commercial interests—from bringing their findings to the attention of Parliament.
- Learn about global neuroscience advocacy at SfN.org.