Brainstorm Experience Series Featuring Life is Good Kids Foundation Chief Playmaker: Steve Gross

On January 4th, 2018 Steve Gross, The Life is Good Kids Foundation Chief Playmaker will kick off The Avielle Foundation’s, Brainstorm Experience Series. This year-long series will feature thought leaders, advocates, and celebrities from across society who offer unique perspectives on the care, science, strength, and vulnerability of the brain. Life is not easy. Life … Read moreBrainstorm Experience Series Featuring Life is Good Kids Foundation Chief Playmaker: Steve Gross

Spark Project Uses Art to Bring Brain Health to Newtown

Paula Brinkman is an important part of our tribe. Through the SPARK project, Paula leads PeaceLove classes throughout the community using art, music, and movement as a method of connection and healing. Brain health is a community wide effort and Paula is a true brain health champion using her passion and talent to make our community … Read moreSpark Project Uses Art to Bring Brain Health to Newtown

They’re Not Just Numbers…

9/11… 12/14… and thousands of other dates have transcended their place on the calendar and into the social conscience of our society.  Each date represents an event whose magnitude is so profound it can be universally recognized by the succession of two numbers and instantly provoke vivid memories and feelings of sadness, loss, grief, anger, and rage while also creating a sense of … Read moreThey’re Not Just Numbers…

The Avielle Foundation provides Brain Health First Aid for New NPS Staff

Brain Health education is central to our mission, for the past three years, we have been honored to provide Brain Health First Aid to nearly all Newton Public Schools teachers. The ability to recognize behavioral changes is a protective factor for those facing brain health challenges. Strengthening the Brain Health toolbox for the educators who interact with their students every … Read moreThe Avielle Foundation provides Brain Health First Aid for New NPS Staff

The Pareto Principal and Social Burden

Many of us have heard of some form of the 80:20, or Pareto Principal. For example 80% of a country’s wealth lies in 20% of the population; or 80% of a business’ profits are generated by 20% of its customers. In a fascinating paper, published in the December 2016 issue of Nature Human Behavior, our … Read moreThe Pareto Principal and Social Burden

Survey results on exercise and psychological well-being

In 2000, a group of researchers from the Finnish National Public Health Institute surveyed a section of the Finnish population, searching for an association between exercise and psychological well-being. Participants answered questions regarding their exercise habits, perceived health, and fitness. In addition, the participants filled out several standardized surveys designed to determine if they suffer from feelings of depression, their … Read moreSurvey results on exercise and psychological well-being

Book Review: Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World

On the one hand, Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories,and How They Inform Your World by Dr. Andrea Bonior is a compilation of useful summaries of thought-provoking ideas and influential thinkers, and on other hand, this book is an easy-to-digest,  visually appealing, and witty resource that has carved out its own little place on my bookshelf. This just-published book highlights the most significant … Read moreBook Review: Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World

Are some of us wired to be more resilient?

These days, there is much talk of resilience. This is not surprising, as there are ample stressors in our daily lives and in our world, and some people seem to fare better in the face of stressors than others. But what is it that makes some people more resilient than others in the face of … Read moreAre some of us wired to be more resilient?

Things we can do to help our brains help us feel good: Meditation

Ask meditation devotees and they will tell you with conviction that their meditative practice brings about positive change within them. There is a lot of research that supports these experiences; whether it be a more positive mood after meditating, a more relaxed or focused cognitive state, or increased connection with others, the practice would not have … Read moreThings we can do to help our brains help us feel good: Meditation

More big evidence that mindfulness keeps the doctor away

 It is hard not to observe that the concept of “mindfulness” is currently very popular. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”  The term is often used in reference to relaxation, meditation, everyday behaviors, … Read moreMore big evidence that mindfulness keeps the doctor away

Gratitude on the brain

Everyone seems to be talking about gratitude these days. Many who practice gratitude recognize in themselves that identifying and expressing gratitude makes them feel good. There is also a growing body of research (recently even fMRI studies) which supports what people recognize in themselves; that acknowledging feelings of gratitude can have many benefits for health … Read moreGratitude on the brain

Exercise on the Brain

This post is a summary of a Brain Science podcast in which host Ginger Campbell, MD, interviewed psychiatrist John Ratey about the effects of exercise on the brain. Essentially, Dr. Rater argued that exercise promotes changes in chemistry in your brain which he further describes in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain: The Revolutionary New Science … Read moreExercise on the Brain

Other neuroscience blogs you should check out!

  As we at The Avielle Foundation began our work, we soon recognized the benefit of having a resource for linking up to and summarizing relevant neuroscience research underlying the work that we do. This is how the “Check This Out!” spotlight on research and learning library has come to be. Our goal is to make science accessible to anyone who would … Read moreOther neuroscience blogs you should check out!

We are wired for compassion; how can we be MORE compassionate?

In this interview, psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, spoke with NPR Radio about compassion and why compassion is often absent in human behavior. After defining and describing current scientific thinking about compassion, he summarized current thought on compassion based on social neuroscience. Social neuroscience, he explained, is a  subfield of brain science that looks at … Read moreWe are wired for compassion; how can we be MORE compassionate?

The neuroscience of restorative justice

Daniel Reisel has spent a lot of time studying psychopaths (specifically murderers) in order to determine what neurological changes allow them to act without feeling or concern. Research indicates that psychopaths have a deficit in the amygdala, a brain region responsible for empathy. As a result, they lack the ability to feel for others. In … Read moreThe neuroscience of restorative justice

Why aren’t we more compassionate?

In this TED talk, Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence, discusses our natural propensity for compassion. He explains how we have “mirror neurons” which automatically allow us to feel “with” someone and make compassionate choices. However, in order to do this successfully, it is imperative that we are able to focus less on … Read moreWhy aren’t we more compassionate?

The Resilience Portfolio Model

The Resilience Portfolio Model examines the protective factors and processes that promote resilience in children and adults who have been exposed to violence. There is a large body of research revealing common themes that have allowed people to maintain or regain healthy brain functioning following exposure to violence. Scientists have classified these factors into assets, … Read moreThe Resilience Portfolio Model

Meditation’s benefits for your brain

Many people who practice meditation strongly stand behind their practice, noting the many benefits that they notice within themselves from meditating. What happens inside of the brain when a person meditates? Neuroscientists in many labs have sought to better understand this by conducting brain imaging studies, one of which we feature in a related blog post. … Read moreMeditation’s benefits for your brain

Neuroscience informing educational approaches in school

We wanted to highlight several videos in which the applications of neuroscience to education are presented in a clear, user-friendly way, both by Lori Desautels. The webinar focuses on trauma-informed education. She specifically describes the role of trauma in childhood and adolescence in our brain and how it impedes our ability to function, neurobiologically. She explains how when a child is … Read moreNeuroscience informing educational approaches in school

The neuroscience of the adolescent brain

Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore highlights the period of life when the brain is rapidly developing and quite malleable, known as adolescence, in this TED Talk. She describes her research in which she uses neuroimaging to compare the adolescent’s prefrontal cortex and limbic system to that of adults, noting that there are many ways in which … Read moreThe neuroscience of the adolescent brain

Empathy and compassion training changes both behavior and brain

Watch Olga Klimecki’s presentation on the Neuroscience Of Empathy and Compassion at the 2012 Empathy and Compassion in Society conference to learn about the effects of empathy and compassion training. Her primary point, demonstrating the plasticity of the brain, is essentially that we can train ourselves to react a certain way. Our emotional reactions (and underlying … Read moreEmpathy and compassion training changes both behavior and brain

Kelly McGonigal TED Talk- How to make stress your friend

Dr. Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk about the effects of stress on your mind and body represents a powerful perspective change on how we think about stress. Rather than trying to eliminate stress from your life (which is not doable), her goal as a health psychologist is to get people to get “better” at stress. That … Read moreKelly McGonigal TED Talk- How to make stress your friend

Carol Dweck TED talk: The power of believing that you can improve

Carol Dweck is a revolutionary researcher interested in motivation and how we can foster success. In this talk, she discusses how changing your mindset can enable success. According to Dr. Dweck, two primary mindsets operate when starting a challenge. Someone with a fixed mindset has been taught that intelligence is concrete, while someone with a growth … Read moreCarol Dweck TED talk: The power of believing that you can improve

Thomas Insel TED talk: Toward a new understanding of mental illness

In this TED talk,Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, reflects on how significant strides in brain health can be made. Though we have had significant progress over the last few decades in our knowledge and treatment of heart disease, AIDS, leukemia, and stroke, we have made little progress in effectively treating “mental … Read moreThomas Insel TED talk: Toward a new understanding of mental illness

Nadine Burke Harris TED talk: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

In this compelling TED talk, pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris demonstrates how a single exposure that, in high doses, affects brain development, the immune system, hormonal systems, and even gene expression. In high doses, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer, as well as a 20-year decrease in life expectancy. What … Read moreNadine Burke Harris TED talk: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

The Avielle Foundation’s viewing of ‘Inside Out’

This week, members of the TAF team went to see the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. Everyone loved the movie and agreed with the film’s lessons about social and emotional learning. The movie tells the story of a girl named Riley, who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, along with the personified emotions in her … Read moreThe Avielle Foundation’s viewing of ‘Inside Out’

compassion and empathy in the brain: not the same (research study)

Empathy and compassion are similar, of course, but not the same. Empathy is “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” such as feeling pain or sadness in response to someone else’s suffering. Compassion, however, is translating this experience of another person’s suffering into action in order to improve their situation, to alleviate their suffering. This study demonstrated the difference … Read morecompassion and empathy in the brain: not the same (research study)

Gary Slutkin TED talk: Let’s treat violence like a contagious disease

In Dr. Gary Slutkin’s TED talk, he proposes that we treat violence the same way we treat any other contagious disease. Dr. Slutkin founded Cure Violence in 2000, following a decade of overseas work as an epidemiologist whose goal was to reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, and AIDS. Hoping to avoid … Read moreGary Slutkin TED talk: Let’s treat violence like a contagious disease

Avielle’s Carnival

We are excited to have our fantastic San Diego crew putting their amazing minds together to help the Avielle Foundation prevent violence through community engagement and education.  You may have seen it on our Events page (https://aviellefoundation.org/events/avielles-carnival/), we are having a carnival in San Diego on October 13!  This is going to be a fun … Read moreAvielle’s Carnival

Denver Brainstorming 5K – Thanks!

The Avielle Foundation’s first ever and first annual Brainstorming 5K was successfully held on August 25th, 2013. Approximately 350 people ran, walked, and rallied for brain health and collectively, we raised awareness and over $15,000 in funds. The inaugural event was held at Clement Park in Littleton, CO. We were welcomed and supported by Phoenix … Read moreDenver Brainstorming 5K – Thanks!

Bidding for Brain Health

The Avielle Foundation Online Auction Starts Today! Durham, NH – With support from generous donors, the Avielle Foundation auction taking place through BiddingForGood will begin today. The outpouring of donations has been incredible! There are many priceless and meaningful items being auctioned off – some of them are local to the New England area, and … Read moreBidding for Brain Health

The Avielle Foundation Profiled in the Wall Street Journal

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article on The Avielle Foundation, and touches upon our efforts to reduce future incidences of violence through brain health research: “Dr. Richman, 43 years old, is a neuropharmacologist and senior fellow at Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company. Ms. Hensel, 47, has worked in regulatory medical writing, preparing reports on clinical-trial … Read moreThe Avielle Foundation Profiled in the Wall Street Journal

Breasts, Meet Brains – The New Kid on the Block

By Anneliese Dickman                                                                                                                07/10/2013

The Avielle Foundation’s objectives are twofold: promoting and supporting research on brain health to prevent violence and building community to foster connectivity and empathy.  This two-pronged approach to better health has been shown to be successful by many other wellness advocacy organizations, all of whom owe a debt to Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  She created an organization that has raised a tremendous amount of money for research, but to do so she first brought breast cancer out of the shadows by helping families, health care providers, and the media shine a light on the disease and its effects.

Just as women learning about breast health have come together to eliminate what was once a stigma, the Avielle Foundation encourages communities to learn together about brain health to bring it out of the shadows.
Just as women learning about breast health have come together to eliminate what was once a stigma, the Avielle Foundation encourages communities to learn together about brain health to bring it out of the shadows.

At the time of Komen for the Cure’s first fundraiser, in 1982, the local reporter covering the event struggled to convince her editors that her news story should include the word “breast” and not just refer to some unnamed “women’s cancer.”  This reluctance to acknowledge female biology was typical, and meant that women and their families suffered in silence.  Survivors were afraid to reveal the scars of breast cancer on their bodies, and those that had lost loved ones could not truly describe their mothers’, sisters’, or daughters’ suffering for fear of offending.  If cancer was a word whispered in polite company, breast cancer was not uttered at all.

Nancy Brinker realized that raising enough money to find a cure could happen only if society was comfortable talking about breast health.  She sought media attention for her work; cultivated support from high-profile women like Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller, who had been open about their diagnosis and treatment; and advocated loudly for breast cancer, as the number two killer of women, to become a priority of policymakers and cancer researchers.  She had facts and figures on her side, and coupled the statistics with personal stories from women across the country.

In addition, she ensured that the foundation’s work was inclusive of all types of breast cancer patients, from all walks of life (including men).  She knew that the pervasiveness of the disease, while devastating, was also the aspect that could ensure the foundation’s success.  She felt there was literally no one who did not fit the profile of a potential foundation supporter, because there was literally no one who did not potentially have someone in their life affected by breast cancer.  In the early days of the foundation, she found it possible to work a pitch for a contribution into every conversation she had.

Read moreBreasts, Meet Brains – The New Kid on the Block

The Avielle Foundation on All Things Considered

Yesterday, an interview with Jennifer and Jeremy was broadcast on WSHU’s All Things Considered with Craig LeMoult.  They took the opportunity to discuss their approach to brain health research and how their work with the foundation has been part of their healing process.  You can listen to the interview using the player below, or by … Read moreThe Avielle Foundation on All Things Considered

Avielle Foundation on Good Day NY

Today is the 6-month anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  This morning, Avielle’s parents Jennifer and Jeremy appeared on Good Day New York for an extensive interview.  Thanks for Fox New York and everyone at Good Day New York for remembering all of the victims of this event, and also for giving … Read moreAvielle Foundation on Good Day NY

Make the Invisible Visible

The Avielle Foundation is meeting with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today, June 4th, 2103. As scientists, we frequently ask ourselves “blue sky” questions – trying to assess what an ideal world or situation would look like.  In our meeting with OSTP we want to brainstorm what technologies will become available to … Read moreMake the Invisible Visible

Science + Technology = The Health Informatics Megatrend

Our champions in Silicon Valley, the SV Angels, have their sights set on the next big thing. They call it Health Informatics. And they happen to believe that it’s people like us — like the Avielle Foundation — that will foster the evolution and progress of this field. David Lee, the managing director of SV Angels … Read moreScience + Technology = The Health Informatics Megatrend

The Avielle Foundation makes international news!

This morning, the Avielle Foundation was profiled in an Associated Press article.  At this moment, over 1700 newspapers and 5000 television and radio broadcasts have permission to publish the article, and many have already chosen to do so.   By Michael Melia (AP) HARTFORD, Conn. — As parents, Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel were plunged … Read moreThe Avielle Foundation makes international news!

Avielle Foundation Introduces Scientific Advisory Board That Will Guide, Prioritize Funding of Brain Health Research to Identify Underpinnings of Violence

Sandy Hook Organization Focused on Two-Pronged Approach to Reducing Violence NEWTOWN, Conn., April 15, 2013 – The Avielle Foundation, formed in January with a goal of preventing violence through brain health research and the fostering of community initiatives, today announced its scientific advisory board (SAB) comprised of world-renowned experts in psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. Introduced by … Read moreAvielle Foundation Introduces Scientific Advisory Board That Will Guide, Prioritize Funding of Brain Health Research to Identify Underpinnings of Violence

The Conway Family Donates $50,000 to the Avielle Foundation

By Jennifer Hensel & Jeremy Richman In March, we had an interesting and inspiring experience over dinner with a gentleman, his wife, and their friend and acquaintances. As we broke bread, we told them about our daughter, Avielle, and about the plans we have to build stronger and safer communities through our foundation. The conversation … Read moreThe Conway Family Donates $50,000 to the Avielle Foundation

Benefit Dinner for the Avielle Foundation

On May 3rd, a benefit dinner for the Avielle Foundation will take place at the Beach Grass Cafe in Solana Beach, CA.  This event is being organized by Kim Fultz, a friend to the Richman-Hensel family and one of Jenn’s former coworkers.  Cindy and Kevin Nelson, the owners of Beach Grass Cafe, will donate 100% … Read moreBenefit Dinner for the Avielle Foundation

Brain Health – TAF in San Francisco

by Jeremy Richman Between March 14th and March 17th, Jennifer, Mike, and I were able to represent the Avielle Foundation in San Francisco to meet with innovative thinkers, brain researchers, and philanthropists. We headed to the West Coast to focus on innovative brain health research, and how it can be used to prevent violence. Our efforts were … Read moreBrain Health – TAF in San Francisco

Arena Pharmaceuticals Helping TAF

Last Valentines day, the two month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders, Erin, one of my old colleagues at Arena Pharmaceuticals and one of my very favorite people, went to bat to help the Avielle Foundation.  She wanted to do a Valentines day fundraiser at Arena.  With very little preparation time, Erin called … Read moreArena Pharmaceuticals Helping TAF

Update on White Dragon’s Seminar for Avielle

As many of you have already seen, White Dragon Martial Arts of San Diego held a very successful fundraising event this past weekend.  Initial estimates were that over $10,000 had been raised for The Avielle Foundation.  Unfortunately, it appears those estimates were off by over 30%. Fortunately, the actual amount was even greater!  All told, … Read moreUpdate on White Dragon’s Seminar for Avielle

White Dragon Martial Arts of San Diego Raises over $10k $15k for The Avielle Foundation

As many of you know, the Richman-Hensel family lived in San Diego from 2001-2011.  Shortly after their arrival, Jeremy and Jennifer began training in Kung Fu and Tai Chi at White Dragon Martial Arts.  From her birth in 2006, Avielle was a frequent visitor to the White Dragon school in Mira Mesa, where her mother Jennifer … Read moreWhite Dragon Martial Arts of San Diego Raises over $10k $15k for The Avielle Foundation