Senses Cultural is to celebrate the World Brain Day through organizing public awareness initiatives

Senses Cultural: The World Brain Day 22 July 2018 is an occasion to have a closer look at what can potentially benefit or harm our brain health and to modify our life-environmental factors hoping to own even healthier brains. The WorldBrain Day’s theme this year rests on a key global issue “Clean Air and Brain Heath”. Senses Cultural is to celebrate the World Brain Day by organizing public awareness initiatives.

According to Prof Randi Hagerman, Medical Director of the MIND Institute, UC Davis and the chief advisor at Senses Cultural Foundation in Sacramento California, air pollution is a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders also not just cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

“Currently the association between air pollution and autism is being studied in mouse models for autism at UC Davis and there may be more neurodevelopmental disorders besides autism that is associated with air pollution. “This is an excellent and topical theme for World Brain Day”, Dr. Hagerman remarked.

Ultrafine pollution particles may enter the bloodstream, find their way to the brain, and damage the blood-brain barrier, which can cause neuroinflammation.

“Certainly air pollution can worsen oxidative stress which can further deteriorate mitochondrial function that is vital to neuronal function and connectivity in the central nervous system”, said Prof. Hagerman.

Unclean air is a global burden today. Based on recent reports from UNICEF, over 15 million newborn babies worldwide live in areas where air pollution is critically above international limits, causing them to take in toxic air, potentially putting their brain development at risk.

As highlighted by Dr. Mohammad Nami, Head of the Department of Neuroscience at SUMS, Shiraz-Iran, and an advisory board member at Senses Cultural; the lung-brain axis regulates proper oxygen delivery to the brain which is needed for our optimal neurological and cognitive functions. “Based on recent research findings, toxins in the inhaled polluted air can affect brain development in young children and breathing in the areas critical particulate polluted air would harm brain tissue and undermine cognitive development – with often permanent implications and setbacks”, Dr. Nami stated.

“Some air pollutant particles are in fact ultrafine magnetite materials. They can even invade the nervous system through the olfactory nerve and the gut tissue, and, given their magnetic charge, they cause oxidative stress leading to neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, other pollution elements such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, can areas critical to fostering neural communications which are critical to children’s learning and development.”.

According to SC advisors Dr. Hagerman and Dr. Nami, there is a global need to take urgent steps to reduce the impact of air pollution on children’s growing brains in today’s industrial life which is literally packed with environmental hazards including air pollution. The least parents can do is to reduce children’s domestic exposure to hazardous fumes produced by tobacco products, cook stoves, and heating fires. We need to be investing in air cleaners, renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel combustion; public transport; increasing green spaces in urban areas; reducing the use of pesticides and providing better waste management options to prevent open burning of harmful chemicals. These are among priority environmental health policies particularly in areas where air pollution is a serious burden.

The World Brain Day is to celebrate our current state of brain health and neurocognitive fitness. In light of this occasion, we have to be determined to strive towards developing and enhancing resilient, stronger and meanwhile more flexible brains.

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Autism Awareness Month: Forging New International Collaborations

Dr. Randi Hagerman of UC Davis MIND Institute and DR. Mohammad Nami of Shiraz University talk at the 2nd International Autism Conference in Tehran.
Dr. Randi Hagerman of UC Davis MIND Institute and Dr. Mohammad Nami of Shiraz University talk at the 2nd International Autism Conference in Tehran.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and this month we’re honored to share that Senses Cultural is embarking on an international, and multidisciplinary, collaboration to further both research and awareness of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in both the U.S. and Iran.

Through Senses Cultural, Shiraz University will collaborate with Dr. Randi Hagerman, the Medical Director of MIND Institute at The University of California, Davis, and other scholars at the MIND Institute, to build an academic bridge in autism research.

Dr. Mohammad Nami, who is the head of the Department of Neuroscience and Vice-Chancellor for Research and Technology Affairs at Shiraz University, says this relationship is a big step forward in autism research and education.

“It is really nice to see that a foundation like Senses Cultural is trying to make this link and catalyze the potentials for a bilateral collaboration between the scholars and experts from both institutions,” says Dr. Nami. “We are trying to broaden the audiences that we are facing. It’s not only about teaching and learning, it’s also to put this into practice and to make parents, and other people who are affected by these disorders, part of the network. So we’re going to just synergize all the efforts in autism research to take that to the next level.”

Dr. Nami says while the team at Shiraz University is focused on the behavioral and cognitive aspects of autism research, experts from UC Davis’ MIND Institute are pioneers in the research of molecular genetics and neuro-genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and also have a focus on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of autism. He says collaborations will open new doors.


“The field of research and clinical practice in autism is really broad. We have more than 20 different issues to tap into ranging from sensory issues, diet interventions, anxiety, quality of life, sleep, epilepsy diagnosis, and many different aspects of motor skills, cognitive performance, and aging even in autistic spectrum disorder cases or Fragile X syndrome cases. No one can be perfect in all the different aspects of autism and Fragile X research.”

In December 2017, scholars from the two universities convened at the 2nd International Autism Conference in Tehran. Dr. Nami says the cross-pollination of knowledge between scholars at both institutions is not only an asset to academics, but to families dealing with autism. He says the long-term goal is to expand the network to include English, Farsi and Arabic-speaking families and academics throughout the Middle East and U.S.

“I look forward to new corridors that will be in front of us, and that will help to address a wider audience, and help them gain a better understanding of autism and Fragile X syndrome, and help them deal with all this suffering, and help them change their way of living to gain a better quality of life.”

Senses Cultural catalyst for autism awareness training at Shiraz University

Senses Cultural CEO Tata Monfared and the Vice Chancellor for Global Strategies and International Affairs at Shiraz University Medical Sciences in Iran, Dr. Nasrollah Erfani, as well as the Department of Neuroscience at Shiraz Medical University formalized the collaboration through the Memorandum of Understanding in late March 2018. Dr. Mohammad Nami and Senses Cultural believe the possibilities are limitless.