Welcome to Brain Busters

We’re currently in the early stages of development, and we hope you’ll help us in our efforts to provide a free, cutting-edge program designed to improve the relationship between science and the public. Please explore the website for information about who we are, where we are, and where we want to go – and of course, email away with any questions.

The Basics

At Brain Busters, we believe that simply replacing old knowledge with new knowledge isn’t good enough. Especially when some of that old knowledge is so deeply ingrained in the culture that it’s hard to know where to start. So, to counter the spread of unregulated, sensationalized, and potentially damaging claims from the human sciences, we want to arm the public with the skills to fight back.

The Goals

Our approach is unique in that we’re crossing disciplines, blending designs, and pairing information delivery with skill-building. The Brain Busters team has four main goals we aim to thread throughout the project:

Education

We want to provide carefully crafted, curated, and relevant information from across the human and learning sciences, while also acting as a gateway to other successful and credible resources from across the web. In addition, we want to provide targeted and contextual information relevant to educators, the workforce, and the general public.


Collaboration

Teachers want to use the best information in their classrooms, managers want to know what works and what doesn’t, and researchers want their work to be represented responsibly. That’s why we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved in whatever way suits them, in hopes that the final product will be much more powerful than what any one person or field could accomplish on their own.


Sustainability

By introducing transferable skills, applied activities, and direct access to countless existing and well-maintained resources, we are always keeping in mind how users will interact with the world of research beyond their experience with our program. We want Brain Busters to be just the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship.


Creative Design

We believe that presentation really is everything. By combining solid research, multi-media, clever activities, visualizations of information, and expert insights with a beautiful interface, intuitive and flexible workflows, and sense of humor, we hope to create a program dynamic enough to really make a difference.

Sounds interesting?

Join the Effort!

Mission

“Brain Busters aims to bring together experts from science, business, education, and design to build a creative, collaborative platform at the intersection of research and application. We aim to provide educators, workers, and the general public with free access to the skills and habits of mind necessary to critically consume and integrate cutting-edge research into their daily lives.”

Our call to arms:

These days, it seems that everyone from lawyers to performing artists to politicians have caught the brain bug. Journalists have mastered the ability to take a lackluster finding from the lab and make it a life changing revelation about the inner workings of your mind. Third parties are building misleading products and cashing in on people's curiosity and their faith in all things "neuro". Even the occasional neuroscientist trades in their credibility to make an extra buck.

So who's job is it to keep neuroscience in it's place? A good, balanced place where its role in society is appreciated but not exploited. The researchers are too busy with the research. The journalists are pressured to write the story that sells. The educators are so overwhelmed with the demands on their time, that there's no way they're about to start a revolution in someone else's field. We've thought long and hard about this predicament, and until there's a career dedicated to monitoring the mess, we see only one solution: everyone is responsible. And we all have work to do.

We admit, there's already a lot of complaining out there about the misapplication of neuroscience, but the culprits don't seem to be going away. That's where you come in. We think the best weapon to keep bad science at bay is a population empowered with the skills and knowledge to catch a myth unfolding or stop an inflated claim before it spreads.

How do we do this? Simple. Everyone does just a little bit, and the result is enormous.

We asked the designers to make something beautiful and easy to interact with. We asked the researchers to lend their voice and tell us the truth behind the most popular and questionable claims in their field. We asked the educators to help us build cutting edge curriculum, and we asked the programmers to make it all work. Together, we've put together a free, fun program that gives people the opportunity to learn how to be a responsible consumer of new science. We've done our part, and we hope you'll be excited to do yours.

This is a program for people who want to learn about the brain and who have no interest in being taken advantage of by for-profit corporations. It's for people who are curious and just never knew where to start. It's for readers who want to know what neuroscientists will and won't claim, straight from the horse's mouth. It's for teachers who don't want to see good classes cut in favor of misinformed curricula. It's for anyone who wants to see a difference in how science and the public interact, and who wants that difference to start with them.

If we all do our part, the bad stuff will be forced to get out of the way, and let the good science get to work.


The end game

So where do we want this thing to go? Our sole motivation is the massive overhaul of the current exploitation of the public, and the sense that there’s nothing to be done about it. Our ideal outcome is Brain Busters becoming part of employee training programs, teacher’s education programs and professional development communities, lab and university websites, and popular science and pedagogy blogs, in hopes of giving all of us a shot at fighting back against the commodification of human science research.

Sounds interesting?

Join the Effort!

The Team

The success of our program depends on the collaboration of experts from across disciplines and trades. We are lucky to have a diverse and ridiculously passionate team of core developers, as well as an ever-growing roster of generous advisors and contributors. If you’re interested in learning more or joining the effort, please email us at hello@brainbusters.org

Stephanie Fine Sasse, Ed.M. Mind, Brain, and Education, Harvard University

Content + Design
@sfsasse

Stephanie is a reformed neuroimaging researcher who changed paths when she realized that she could actually make a career out of combining her passions for people, science, and talking. After managing to trick the rest of the crew into joining her obsessive quest to revolutionize the public’s interaction with science, she settled into her role of building out content, designing the curriculum, and asking everyone who would listen to point out everything she could’ve done better.

Gerson M. Abesamis, Ed.M. Technology, Innovation, and Education, Harvard University

Tech + Design
gersonabesamis.com / @the_gerzone

Every team needs that one person that can somehow breathe life and order into everyone else’s hare-brained ideas. That’s our Gerson. He provides the tech savvy and creative glaze that takes Brain Busters from a lovely thought to a program with a web interface to be reckoned with. He works to make sure that our choices are at the cutting-edge of creative design and accessibility, and prioritizes building a program where the design capitalizes on the power of technology, without interrupting its function.

Lisa Schnoll, Ed.M. Technology, Innovation, and Education, Harvard University

Project Management + Social Media
@schnollersaurus

Lisa’s specialty is keeping the rest of us on task and in line. She has a special place in her heart for informal learning and educational technology, and uses her leadership experience to harness the team’s potential. When she’s not making sure that our t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted, she’s busy putting her public relations experience to work by managing our online accounts and social networking. You could say that she’s the business-minded glue that balances out the team’s “creative types”.

Susan Smiley, Ed.M. Mind, Brain, and Education, Harvard University

Media Production + Business

Susan is a successful filmmaker, producer, entrepreneur, and mom, whose interest in the application of neuroscience and psychology recently snuck up on her to take center stage. All of the beautiful footage you’ll see is her doing, as is the careful planning and plotting of the potential story and takeaways for each segment. On top of capturing and infusing the modules with personal narratives and perspectives, she leverages her years of experience in non-profit fundraising to help us take Brain Busters to the next level.

Maya Bialik, Ed.M. Mind, Brain, and Education, Harvard University

Research + Content

The latest addition to the core team, Maya stepped up to use her interdisciplinary sensibilities, research know-how and general skepticism to help us provide the most current and meaty content available. Lovingly nicknamed “Meta Maya”, she’s always thinking a few steps ahead and helping us consider how each claim or skill fits into the bigger picture. She’s also our on-hand devil’s advocate, making darn sure that nothing but the best ideas get through.

The Support Team:
Advisors + Contributors

These wonderful people have generously offered to provide their expert advice and guidance as we build this program. While we take their feedback very seriously and aim to live up to their expectations, Brain Busters does not necessarily represent their personal or professional opinions.

Brain Busters aims to fold in the perspectives of as many individuals as possible from across fields. If you would like to lend your feedback and support the project, please email us to see if you’re a fit for a theme of the project. We look forward to this being an ever-growing list of contributing perspectives.

Human Sciences

Leah Somerville, PhD
Assistant Professor, Harvard University
Affective Neuroscience & Development Lab >>
Expertise: Emotional development, Adolescent brain development

Jamil Zaki, PhD
Assistant Professor, Stanford University
Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory >>
Founder, The People's Science >>
Expertise: Decision Science, Self and Identity, Public + Science relations

Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD
Assistant Professor, Oregon Health & Science University
Fair Neuroimaging Lab >>
Founder, YES! Youth Engaged in Science >>
Expertise: Typica/Atypical brain development, Neuroimaging techniques

L. Todd Rose, Ed.D.
Faculty, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Co-founder/President, Project Variability >>
Expertise: Educational neuroscience, Individual variability, Science communication

Mark Rutledge-Gorman, Psy.D.
Administrator & Education Component Director, Portland Alcohol Research Center
Co-founder/President, Project Variability >>
Expertise: Educational neuroscience, Individual variability, Science communication

Jay Van Bavel, PhD
Assistant Professor, New York University
Social Perception and Evaluation Lab >>
Expertise: Social Identity, Moral Judgment, Social Psychology

Kathryn Mills
PhD Candidate, Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London/NIH
Expertise: Adolescent brain development, Structural development


Workforce development & organizational behavior

Wayne Dorris, PhD
Leadership & Management Consultant
Expertise: Affective neuroscience, consciousness

Charles Fadel, MBA
Founder & Chairman, Center for Curriculum Redesign
Expertise: Education, technology, workforce development

Education & Learning Sciences

David H. Rose, Ed.D.
Founder and CEO, CAST>>
Instructor, Harvard University
Expertise: Universal Design for Learning, developmental neuropsychology

Pamela Pederson
Educator, K-4
Expertise: 30 years teaching, Gifted & Talented

Harvard Life Sciences Outreach Program
Feedback collected from 30 New England science Instructors


Consultants + Support Team

David Kelley, PhD
Post-doc, Harvard University
Expertise: Genomics, bioinformatics, systems science

Sara Verosky, PhD
Post-doc, Harvard University
Expertise: Social neuroscience

Megan Herting
Post-doc, University of Southern California
Expertise: Neuroimaging, adolescent development, environmental influence

Katie Insel
PhD Candidate, Cognitive Neuroscience, Harvard University
Expertise: Adolescent motivational behavior, brain development

Rita Ludwig, MS
Lab Manager, Harvard University
Expertise: Statistics, social neuroscience

Erik Kastmann, BS
Research Technician, Harvard University
Expertise: Data analysis, neuroimaging methodologies

Alea Skwara, BA
Lab Manager, Harvard University
Expertise: Affective science, consciousness

Program Design

Although we are still in the early stages of development, we’re far from square one and want to share our progress with all of you.


Claims & Skills

Below is a breakdown of the claims that will be evaluated in each module, as well as its associated skill-building module.


Overview of features

We also have an early beta website that shows a few of the features that will be included in the final program. These features include:


Below that, you’ll find an overview of how each module will be structured.

Sounds interesting?

Join the Effort!

Join the Effort

Brain Busters aims to be an inclusive and interdisciplinary effort. If you feel strongly that the current state of unregulated application of neuroscience and the exploitation of the public’s trust in this field is an issue worth attending to, we want to provide you with a way to get involved that works for you. Of course, we invite you to get involved in as many ways as you’d like (!), but we’ve outlined a few possible roles below.

Our advisors are treasured members of the Brain Busters team. They offer their support and unique expertise to help the program reach its full potential. As part of the advisory board, you’ll identify the modules that match your experience and help guide their development. You are also welcome to offer broader advice on our plans for implementation, outreach, design, or function. We want to make sure that our content is accurate and comprehensive. As an expert in the field, you can offer your trained eye, critical mind, and official endorsement to help us in this goal. Participation can vary based on availability.

Estimated time commitment: minimum 1 hour quarterly

The Brain Busters design model also requires that we capture relevant experts from across fields discussing their thoughts and perspectives. These interviews will be professionally filmed and edited to align with the learning objectives of each module, and all of our experts will approve the footage before it is released. Please check out the Program Design section for more information about the specific content and goals of each module to see if there’s a match.

Estimated time commitment: Approximately 3 hours, including prep, filming, and review. We’ll come to you and set up a time at your convenience.

Many of our modules have unique activities that require interdisciplinary perspectives. We want you to be as candid as possible, so we’ll send you materials (e.g. a blog post or book to review) and ask for your feedback. You will be associated anonymously using only your title (e.g. “Educational Researcher” or “Psychologist”) so that our users have first-hand access to how experts from different fields interact with content at varying levels of credibility.

Estimated time commitment: Varies. You choose how many sources you’d like to evaluate.

We are a completely nonprofit project, but everything we do costs a good bit of money. Attending conferences and events to spread the word, web hosting, bandwidth, the time we take away from our “day jobs”, travel for interviews, media production… you get the point. We appreciate everyone’s donations as they allow us to continue doing this work, but if you prefer a little more of a barter system, check out our limited edition t-shirts designed to raise funds for the project. We’re calling them “neurdy chic”…

Estimated time commitment: Negligible

The only way that, first our fundraising efforts, and second the program itself, will be a success, is with the help of everyone who feels like its goals align with their own. We are trying to take on as much of the tedious labor as possible in hopes that everyone will help us with a simple click of the “Post” or “Forward” button. Let us know if you want to join our mailing list (very few and the most consequential updates, we promise), “Like” us on facebook, or follow us on Twitter, and we’ll keep you in the loop on our t-shirt campaigns and major progress points. We’re only as big as our street team, so help us make this happen. A product like this is only useful if it is used by those who would benefit from it. If you are willing to share this with your network of friends and colleagues, this would help us immensely in bringing the project to its ultimate goal: helping people be critical consumers of Neuroscience research.

Estimated time commitment: As long as it takes to click “Share”!

If you are interested in any of these support options, please shoot us an email at hello@brainbusters.org. Let us know what you’re interested in doing and what module(s) or skills you are most suited to.

Neurdy Swag!

Want to show off your support for the cause? Here you can get a first taste of our neurdy chic style and sport some Brain Busters swag. We’ve got three designs to choose from, and order now, as all designs are limited edition and we’re closing the campaign at the end of the year.

$22

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