Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Lumina Prize awarded for innovation in post-high school education

Congratulations to our Audience's Choice and Judges' Choice Award Winners!


Winners announced for Lumina Prize

In January, Big Think and Lumina Foundation called for innovative ideas in post-high school training and education with an emphasis on an entrepreneurial approach. Today, we are pleased to announce that we have selected two winners.

The Judges' Choice Award

The Judge's Choice Award goes to PeerForward, an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. You can watch their winning video entry here.

For the next and final leg of the competition, winners will be flown (or train-ed) to Big Think's studio in New York City where they will receive coaching from top social venture and media experts on how to deliver a spectacular and direct business pitch.

The Audience Choice Award

The Audience Choice Award goes to Greater Commons. Founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, Greater Commons is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. You can watch their winning video entry here.

Congratulations PeerForward and Greater Commons!

And thank you to our four finalists, our community of voters, and the wonderful judges who helped us make this competition possible. All applicants had fantastic ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

For the next and final leg of the competition, winners will be flown (or train-ed) to Big Think's studio in New York City where they will receive coaching from top social venture and media experts on how to deliver a spectacular and direct business pitch.

Big Think producers will film and edit the footage from the pitch training and create a digital copy to be released on our website and additionally used by the winners as a tool to meet potential investors and stakeholders. We look forward to working with Greater Commons and PeerForward and are excited to release their pitches on Big Think in the coming months!

More From Lumina Foundation
Related Articles

Why are we fascinated by true crime stories?

Several experts have weighed in on our sometimes morbid curiosity and fascination with true crime stories.

Image by MyImages - Micha on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • True crime podcasts can get as many as 500,000 downloads per month. In the Top 100 Podcasts of 2020 list for Apple US, several true crime podcasts ranked within the Top 20.
  • Our fascination with true crime isn't just limited to podcasts, with Netflix documentaries like "Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" scoring high popularity with viewers.
  • Several experts weight in on our fascination with true crime stories with theories including fear-based adrenaline rushes to the inherent need to understand the human mind.
Keep reading Show less

Churches received up to $10 billion in stimulus funding. They want more.

Apparently the Catholic Church is a small business.

Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool via Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • Churches and ministries received up to $10 billion in federal assistance during the first round of stimulus.
  • The Catholic Church exploited a loophole to be considered a "small business" and received up to $3.5 billion in forgivable loans.
  • With stimulus measures ending last week, up to 40 million Americans are in danger of losing their homes.
Keep reading Show less

Our ‘little brain’ turns out to be pretty big

The multifaceted cerebellum is large — it's just tightly folded.

Image source: Sereno, et al
Mind & Brain
  • A powerful MRI combined with modeling software results in a totally new view of the human cerebellum.
  • The so-called 'little brain' is nearly 80% the size of the cerebral cortex when it's unfolded.
  • This part of the brain is associated with a lot of things, and a new virtual map is suitably chaotic and complex.

Just under our brain's cortex and close to our brain stem sits the cerebellum, also known as the "little brain." It's an organ many animals have, and we're still learning what it does in humans. It's long been thought to be involved in sensory input and motor control, but recent studies suggests it also plays a role in a lot of other things, including emotion, thought, and pain. After all, about half of the brain's neurons reside there. But it's so small. Except it's not, according to a new study from San Diego State University (SDSU) published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

A neural crêpe

A new imaging study led by psychology professor and cognitive neuroscientist Martin Sereno of the SDSU MRI Imaging Center reveals that the cerebellum is actually an intricately folded organ that has a surface area equal in size to 78 percent of the cerebral cortex. Sereno, a pioneer in MRI brain imaging, collaborated with other experts from the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands.

So what does it look like? Unfolded, the cerebellum is reminiscent of a crêpe, according to Sereno, about four inches wide and three feet long.

The team didn't physically unfold a cerebellum in their research. Instead, they worked with brain scans from a 9.4 Tesla MRI machine, and virtually unfolded and mapped the organ. Custom software was developed for the project, based on the open-source FreeSurfer app developed by Sereno and others. Their model allowed the scientists to unpack the virtual cerebellum down to each individual fold, or "folia."

Study's cross-sections of a folded cerebellum

Image source: Sereno, et al.

A complicated map

Sereno tells SDSU NewsCenter that "Until now we only had crude models of what it looked like. We now have a complete map or surface representation of the cerebellum, much like cities, counties, and states."

That map is a bit surprising, too, in that regions associated with different functions are scattered across the organ in peculiar ways, unlike the cortex where it's all pretty orderly. "You get a little chunk of the lip, next to a chunk of the shoulder or face, like jumbled puzzle pieces," says Sereno. This may have to do with the fact that when the cerebellum is folded, its elements line up differently than they do when the organ is unfolded.

It seems the folded structure of the cerebellum is a configuration that facilitates access to information coming from places all over the body. Sereno says, "Now that we have the first high resolution base map of the human cerebellum, there are many possibilities for researchers to start filling in what is certain to be a complex quilt of inputs, from many different parts of the cerebral cortex in more detail than ever before."

This makes sense if the cerebellum is involved in highly complex, advanced cognitive functions, such as handling language or performing abstract reasoning as scientists suspect. "When you think of the cognition required to write a scientific paper or explain a concept," says Sereno, "you have to pull in information from many different sources. And that's just how the cerebellum is set up."

Bigger and bigger

The study also suggests that the large size of their virtual human cerebellum is likely to be related to the sheer number of tasks with which the organ is involved in the complex human brain. The macaque cerebellum that the team analyzed, for example, amounts to just 30 percent the size of the animal's cortex.

"The fact that [the cerebellum] has such a large surface area speaks to the evolution of distinctively human behaviors and cognition," says Sereno. "It has expanded so much that the folding patterns are very complex."

As the study says, "Rather than coordinating sensory signals to execute expert physical movements, parts of the cerebellum may have been extended in humans to help coordinate fictive 'conceptual movements,' such as rapidly mentally rearranging a movement plan — or, in the fullness of time, perhaps even a mathematical equation."

Sereno concludes, "The 'little brain' is quite the jack of all trades. Mapping the cerebellum will be an interesting new frontier for the next decade."

Quantcast