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Conferences and Workshops
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Lectures & Seminar
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Selection of Dr. William T. Riley as the Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH
July 30, 2015

OBSSR 20th Anniversary Celebration
April 09, 2015

2015 Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health
April 10, 2015

2015 UCLA Summer Institute on Mobile Health (mHealth) Technology Research
February 23, 2015

Just out! Social Science and Medicine releases Special Issue:Educational Attainment and Adult Health: Contextualizing Causality. Supported by OBSSR
February 10, 2015

  More News >>

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November 5, 2015
BSSR Lecture Series - Video Games and Neuroscience: A Vision of the Future of Medicine and Education
2:00pm - 3:00pm
Bethesda, MD

December 4, 2015
BSSR Lecture Series - Good Behavior: Sharing, and Reusing Research Video
2:00pm - 3:00pm
Bethesda, MD

More Events >>

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Home > News and EventsLectures And Seminars > BSSR Lecture Series

BSSR Lecture Series

NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Seminar Series

For a list of former lectures (1995 to present), please visit the Seminar Series Archives page.


Dr. Lotfi Merabeth smiling Looking Inside the Adaptive Brain of the Blind
Lotfi B. Merabet, OD, PhD, MPH
Harvard Medical School
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 (Watch live)
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Looking Inside the Adaptive Brain of the Blind
Within the setting of visual deprivation, the brain undergoes dramatic reorganization in both its structure and function. Furthermore, these neuroplastic changes are intimately related to compensatory sensory and perceptual behaviors observed in individuals who are blind. We will present how modern neuroimaging has helped reveal the relationship between the brain and behavior as it relates to blindness. We will also highlight differences between individuals who are visually impaired due to ocular causes as compared to those who have developmental damage to the visual cortex.

Lotfi Merabet is an optometrist and neuroscientist investigating how the brain adapts to the loss of sight. He completed his doctorate degree in neuroscience (University of Montréal) and clinical doctorate in optometry (New England College of Optometry). He then continued his post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and completed his Master's degree in Public Health (Harvard). In 2010, he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary as a clinical-researcher. His work is currently supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He currently serves as member of the Board of Directors and Trustees for the Carroll Center for the Blind and the National Braille Press.

Dr. Rucker Johnson The Health Returns to Education Policies: From Preschool to High School and Beyond
Rucker C. Johnson, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Friday, October 16, 2015 (Watch live)
2:00pm - 3:00pm

The Health Returns to Education Policies: From Preschool to High School and Beyond
This research project examines the long-term productivity of education spending, with emphasis on the health returns of educational investments throughout the life course. The project aims to uncover the relationships between segregation, school spending, educational attainment, and students' short-and long-run health outcomes and identify the causal chain that links measures of school quality and adult health. The three major policy changes this research exploits to identify significant changes in school spending include desegregation, school finance reform, and Head Start, for cohorts born since 1950. The health returns to educational investments have received less attention than the traditional focus on short-run test scores and more recently, labor market returns. This is an important omission, given that the return to education in terms of health is about half of the return to education on earnings (Cutler and Lleras-Muney, 2008; Johnson, 2011). An aim of this project is to uniquely fill the research gap by linking data on early childhood education through K-12 school resource inputs with data on adult health and SES attainment outcomes. This work aims to improve our understanding of the long-run economic and health returns to access to high- vs low-quality K-12 school systems.

I use nationally-representative data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) spanning 1968-2013-and match them to administrative data about Head Start budgets and K-12 school expenditures. The study will analyze the life trajectories of children born since 1950, and followed into adulthood through 2013, using the PSID and its supplements on both age of onset of specific health conditions and early childhood education. We use the timing of court-ordered school desegregation and the passage of court-mandated school finance reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as exogenous shifters of school spending and we compare the adult health and SES outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to these education policy reforms, depending on place and year of birth. This project will emphasize potential interactive effects between improved access to school quality and health care services on children's long-run socioeconomic and health outcomes. The evidence from this project will highlight the importance of viewing education policy as health policy, for indeed some of our most productive investments to improve long-run health in adulthood are in the form of childhood educational investments. Analyses that do not consider potential long-term health effects may understate the social return to education investments. And, similarly, early-life health investments can have far-reaching impacts on subsequent educational and economic attainments. The results contribute to our understanding of how segregation influences childhood SES conditions and leads to racial health disparities in adulthood.

Rucker C. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Johnson is a Faculty Research Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, and the National Poverty Center. As a labor and health economist, his work considers the role of poverty and inequality in affecting life chances. He has focused on such topics as the long-run impacts of school quality on educational attainment and socioeconomic success, including the effects of desegregation, school resources, and Head Start. He has investigated the determinants of intergenerational mobility; the societal consequences of incarceration; effects of maternal employment patterns on child well-being; and the socioeconomic determinants of health disparities over the life course, including the roles of childhood neighborhood conditions and residential segregation.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley Video Games and Neuroscience: A Vision of the Future of Medicine and Education
Adam Gazzaley, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
Thursday, November 5, 2015 (Watch live)
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Video Games and Neuroscience: A Vision of the Future of Medicine and Education
A fundamental challenge for modern society is the development of effective approaches to enhance brain function and cognition in both healthy and impaired individuals. Innovative neuroscientist, Adam Gazzaley, will describe an approach developed in his lab that uses custom-designed video games to achieve meaningful and sustainable cognitive enhancement. He will also share the next stage of his research program, which uses video games integrated with technological innovations in software (e.g., brain computer interface algorithms, GPU computing) and hardware (e.g., virtual reality headsets, motion capture, mobile EEG, transcranial electrical brain stimulation) to treat neurological and psychiatric conditions, as well as better target our educational efforts.

Dr. Gazzaley was born and raised in New York City. He was interested in science since childhood and was always convinced that it was his career path. However, he did not discover his passion for the brain until later in his undergraduate years. He went on to receive his M.D. and Ph.D degree in Neuroscience through the NIH-sponsored Medical Scientist Training Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. His doctoral research, under the mentorship of Dr. John Morrison, focused on plasticity of glutamate receptors in the hippocampus and implications for cognitive changes in normal aging. This research earned him the prestigious 1997 Krieg Cortical Scholar Award. He then completed an internship in internal medicine and residency in neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. Following residency, Dr. Gazzaley traveled to UC Berkeley for a research fellowship with Dr. Mark D'Esposito and Dr. Robert Knight. The research involved studying memory and attention in humans and the changes that occur with normal aging using functional MRI and EEG. During that time period he also completed a clinical fellowship in cognitive neurology at the Memory and Aging Center under the direction of Dr. Bruce Miller and became board-certified in neurology.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, completed clinical residency in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He is now Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at the UC San Francisco, the founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center, and director of the Gazzaley Lab, a cognitive neuroscience laboratory. His laboratory studies neural mechanisms of perception, attention and memory, with an emphasis on the impact of distraction and multitasking on these abilities. His unique research approach utilizes a powerful combination of human neurophysiological tools, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation (TMS & TES). A major accomplishment of his research has been to expand our understanding of alterations in the aging brain that lead to cognitive decline. His most recent studies explore neuroplasticity and how we can optimize our cognitive abilities via engagement with custom-designed video games, and how this can be bolstered by closed loop systems using neurofeedback and TES. Dr. Gazzaley is co-founder and chief science advisor of Akili Interactive Labs, a company developing therapeutic video games. He advises a dozen other tech companies, including GE and Nielsen. Dr. Gazzaley has filed multiple patents based in his research, authored over 100 scientific articles, and delivered over 425 invited presentations around the world. His research and perspectives have been consistently profiled in high-impact media, such as The New York Times, New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Discover, Wired, PBS, NPR, CNN and NBC Nightly News. He wrote and hosted the nationally televised, PBS special "The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley". National Awards and honors for his research include the Pfizer/AFAR Innovations in Aging Award, the Ellison Foundation New Scholar Award in Aging, and the Harold Brenner Pepinsky Early Career Award in Neurobehavioral Science.

Dr. Karen Adolph Good Behavior: Sharing, and Reusing Research Video
Karen E. Adolph, Ph.D.
New York University
Friday, December 4, 2015 (Watch live)
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Good Behavior: Sharing, and Reusing Research Video
Behavior is infinitely rich. In natural and laboratory settings, children exhibit an extraordinary array of behaviors-visual exploration, facial expressions, speech, gestures, locomotion, and social interactions. Video captures much of this richness and complexity. Using a broad range of examples, I show how video makes the fleeting, ephemeral nature of behavior tangible and permanent, and how researchers can use video to find the extraordinary in the most ordinary behaviors and, conversely, to reveal hidden structure in the most extraordinary behaviors. Indeed, video is so rich that it can be reused to ask new questions beyond the scope of the original study. In this sense, all behavior is good behavior-valuable to other researchers and capable of yielding new insights into the causes and consequences of learning and development. Data reuse exploits the richness of video to increase scientific transparency, accelerate the pace of discovery, and facilitate understanding of the causes of health and disease. These ideas motivate the Databrary project (, funded by NIH and NSF, which enables video sharing and reuse among developmental researchers. With Databrary, the contribution of a particular dataset will no longer depend on the private activities of one researcher, but will instead benefit from the imagination of many researchers with different viewpoints.

Karen E. Adolph is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at New York University. She received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, her Ph.D. from Emory University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Adolph leads the project to enable video data sharing and reuse among developmental scientists. She is a Fellow of APA and APS and President of the International Congress of Infant Studies. She received the Cattell Sabbatical Award, APF Fantz Memorial Award, APA Boyd McCandless Award, ISIS Young Investigator Award, FIRST and MERIT awards from NICHD, and five teaching awards from NYU. She chaired the NIH study section on Motor Function and Speech Rehabilitation and serves on the Advisory Board of the McDonnell Foundation and the editorial board of Developmental Psychobiology. Adolph's research examines effects of body growth, exploratory activity, environmental and social supports, and culture on perceptual-motor learning and development.



For a list of former lectures (1995 to present), please visit the Seminar Series Archives page.

Videocasts of previous lectures can be found by clicking here.

Visitor Information

Parking at the NIH main campus is very limited. Use of public transportation is strongly advised (visit the public transportation trip planner). Both Wilson Hall and the Natcher Conference Center are short walks from the Medical Center Metro rail & bus stations.

Critical information everyone should know about entering the NIH campus, parking on campus, entering buildings, and using campus transportation is available at: Please survey this site for information necessary to access the NIH campus for our events.

Complete information for Visitors to the NIH campus is available at:

Information on upcoming lectures is also accessible by visiting “Meetings and Seminars” on the Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Interest Group (BSSR-IG) web page.

How to receive announcements of lectures (BSSR listserv)

Reasonable accommodation will be made for those with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate should contact Ms. Dana Sampson, OD/OBSSR,, 1-301-402-1146 or via the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339. Sign Language Interpreters will be provided.

Organizing Committee

We welcome suggestions for speakers and topics. Please send recommendations to:

Michael Spittel, OBSSR

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                  Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Office of the Director
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BSSR Lecture Series