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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
From Murphy Hall
Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
What's at Stake
The Importance of Being Elma
House of Cards
The Quest
Through Women's Eyes
Dynamic Duo
Bruin Walk

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Spring 2005
Stress Fractures

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He cites as a potential solution the work of the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology of the NPI, directed by Michael Irwin, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, which invites members of the public to lectures and seminars about its research in mind-body interactions and their implications for health. Also under development is NPI’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, founded by Susan Smalley M.A. ’81, Ph.D. ’85, professor and co-director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics. Mindful awareness, Smalley says, is known to have positive effects on the brain and the body, as well as to foster a sense of interconnectedness from which caring communities naturally evolve.

“Today, there is often little time for reflection, for greeting a friend or colleague, for taking the time to pause and enjoy the ordinary things in life — a sunrise, a smile from the guy at the Starbucks counter, a child’s query,” Smalley says. “In creating a community of individuals, a healing process emerges and there is an increased sense of well-being.”

William Yang, an assistant professor-in-residence in NPI’s Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences who studies the neurodegenerative diseases Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, is eager for these opportunities to reach a greater number of community residents.

“As scientists, it is our responsibility to actually communicate to the public what we are doing,” he says. “We know that people with these diseases and their families are suffering. I would like to give people hope — we’ve made exciting advances already and much more is about to happen for brain disease.”

“The Semel Institute can act as a resource for the emerging science of human behavior, perhaps to help schools and families learn more about brain development and behavior,” says psychologist Andrew Fuligni of the institute’s Center for Culture and Health and associate professor-in-residence in the departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology. Fuligni studies child development — in particular, how adolescents adjust to their culture, with a focus on Asian and other immigrant families in the Los Angeles area.

“There are a lot of myths out there about how you’re born with the brain that you have and lose cells as you go on,” he says. “But the brain is actually developing and changing throughout one’s lifetime. We can give people hope in human potential and the ability to adapt and develop.”


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