Rancho Santa Fe Senior Scene: Director of UCSD Brain Observatory to speak; Acting classes offered


By Terrie Litwin, RSF Senior Center, executive director

The history of attempting to understand the brain is as old as human history itself. Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was the most important organ and believed that it was the essence of life as well as the source of good and evil. The brain was considered a minor, unimportant organ and was discarded at the time of embalming while other organs were carefully preserved for mummification. The earliest use of the word “brain” is credited to an Ancient Egyptian record known as the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. It contains the first recorded description of the anatomy of the brain. The papyrus was written around the year 1700 BC, but thought to be based on texts from approximately 3000 BC. Since those earliest times, the brain has been discovered to play the most important role imaginable in the lives of human beings. As the center of the central nervous system, it controls virtually every vital activity necessary for survival. Current research into the brain and its functions is an increasingly sophisticated science yielding more and more information critical to our understanding of the brain.

Please join us at the Senior Center on Friday, July 13, at 2 p.m. (reservation required – please call (858) 756-3041) for a presentation titled “A Brain is Worth a Thousand Pictures,” by professor Jacopo Annese, director of the Brain Observatory at UCSD.

At The Brain Observatory, work is under way to investigate the properties and diagnostic value of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and develop an atlas of the human brain that will be accessible on the web. The Brain Observatory is also home of the Digital Brain Library project – an ambitious effort to preserve a vast archive of human brains together with their medical and life history, as well as the results of a variety of tests, ranging from IQ to cognitive functioning and personality. Included in the brain bank are renowned scientists, artists, and one of the most famous cases in medicine, the amnesic patient H.M. In the short term, the archive is answering crucial questions about the mechanisms of major neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In the long run, the Digital Brain Library will be an immensely useful resource for future generations of doctors and scholars.

Dr. Jacopo Annese graduated from the University of Rome (La Sapienza) with a master’s degree in biology and zoology. He obtained his master’s degree in neurological science from University College London and a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from Dartmouth College. His work at UCSD has been featured in a variety of broadcasting and publishing media, including PBS NOVA, National Geographic, BBC, Discovery Channel, CNN, ABC, KPBS, The New York Times, Bloomberg News, Financial Times, Esquire Magazine, and Discover Magazine.

Acting Classes with Monty Silverstone

If you have ever been interested in learning more about the art of acting, this is the class for you! We are delighted to welcome back acting instructor Monty Silverstone for a six-week session of acting classes beginning on Wednesday, July 11, at 1:30 p.m. Monty is a Rancho Santa Fe resident and father of Hollywood actress and star Alicia Silverstone. With his extensive training and experience in television, theater and film, Monty is looking forward to introducing class members to the fun and creativity of the performing arts.

During this class you will learn acting basics including presenting monologues, scene study, cold reading from scripts, using dialects and much more. This class is perfect for beginners as well as seasoned performers and all adults are welcome. Please call the Senior Center for more information (858)756-3041.