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Laughing All the Way, Ha Ha Ha!

Whether you’re riding in a one-horse sleigh, sledding, caroling, baking cookies or chillin’ with family and friends, the holidays brim with opportunities for lots of laughter.

What’s all that joviality doing to your brain?

Laughing stimulates a part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens, which then releases the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. This creates a brain-chemical chain reaction that elevates your mood, makes you feel connected to those around you, reduces stress & pain, and even boosts your immunity!

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What you need to know this Brain Awareness Week: You can raise your IQ

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Brain Awareness Week (BAW) this March 14 – 20 is the worldwide campaign to increase awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. One of the many global events scheduled during this 16th annual BAW is the National Brain Bee at the University of Maryland, Baltimore on March 18 and 19. The Bee is designed to stimulate high school students to learn about neuroscience with the lofty goal of inspiring them to go on to serve the world as brain researchers.

Like spelling bees, kids first compete at the local level, and then move on to the national and international competition. The high school contestants answer questions about electroencephalographs, dendrites, peptides, positron emission topography, netrins and semaphorins, and much more. One of the study guides is the 74-page 2008 edition of Brain Facts, published by The Society for Neuroscience.

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What Would Dr. Seuss Say?

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It’s Read Across America Day – a day set aside to encourage every person in America to read or be read to for fun. This annual nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the American writer best known for creating children’s books and inspiring the love of reading in four generations of kids.

The beloved Doc died in 1991, six years before the first Read Across America Day, and while he would most likely have been tickled with the event, the state of reading in America may have him rolling over in his grave.

A 2007 report by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), shows reading literacy has dropped since Seuss was alive. To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence gathered statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading skills and habits of Americans of all ages. The report unveiled trends that Americans are reading less, reading less well, and graduating from school less prepared.

According to the official website of Dr. Seuss, a few weeks before his death, when asked if there was anything he might have left unsaid, Seuss replied, “Any message or slogan? Whenever things go a bit sour in a job I’m doing, I always tell myself, ‘You can do better than this.’ The best slogan I can think of to leave with the kids of the U.S.A. would be ‘We can…and we’ve got to…do better than this.”

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