Two Nature Neuroscience authors discuss their experience with Research Square Video Abstracts

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Two months ago, we launched our new Video Abstracts product, designed to help research reach a broader audience by conveying the key results of a research paper in a 3-4 minute animated video. This product was developed as a collaboration with Nature Publishing Group, and we produced 30 videos for several NPG journals during the trial. Recently, I caught up with two researchers who received a Video Abstract for their Nature Neuroscience papers to get their thoughts on the product. Their interviews are copied below. Thanks so much to both of you for sharing your thoughts!

The first interviewee is Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu, Professor of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and Neurology in the Department of Pharmacology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Ben Mudrak: Hi, Dr. Ikezu. Thank you for answering some questions about your experience. Before we discuss your Video Abstract, can you tell us a bit about the research you do?

Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu: We study pathobiology Alzheimer’s disease using animal models.  Specifically, we are interested in how pathogenic protein aggregates spread in brain from one specific region to another.  The characterization of this mechanism may lead to a novel therapeutics of disease.

BM: What advantages do you see for sharing research in a multimedia format?

TI: It is easily understandable to lay people, especially your friends, family and funding agencies who are desperate for finding the cure but don’t have much background to understand the research. It is also highly effective for attracting pharmaceutical company and investors interested in the research subjects.

BM: How have you used the video? How do you plan to use it in the future?

TI: We posted on our laboratory website, personal website, forwarded the link to our network, and so on. I also frequently use it for my research presentations.


Second, I interviewed Dr. Jan Brascamp, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University.

Ben Mudrak: Hi, Dr. Brascamp. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about the Video Abstract for your recent paper. Before we get to the video, can you tell us a little about your research?

Dr. Jan Brascamp: Our research is about understanding how people perceive. Perception is important for how people function: we perceive our environment all day long, without even thinking about it, automatically. But there is something misleading in this automaticity: it makes it seem like perception is simple, perhaps similar to a camera or microphone registering signals coming in from the environment. Upon closer inspection perception is very different: when you look out the window and have the subjective sense of seeing a scene (which a camera does not), or perhaps recognize an object as a tree (which a camera doesn’t do either), your brain brings as much to the table as your senses do, and probably more. We study this active and constructive role of the brain in creating perceptual experience.

BM: What aspects of having a Video Abstract made were appealing to you? What benefits did you imagine when you started the process?

JB: It sounded like a great way of communicating our results concisely. I know the intention was for the video to be broadly accessible, and I think the creators definitely achieved that goal, but even when it comes to communication to peers this seemed like a great way of conveying the gist of our paper without claiming a lot of colleagues’ time. Another thing we noticed was that press officials with whom we interacted were keen to get a link to the video, because it added an attractive visual component to their news articles about the paper.

BM: How have you used the video? How do you plan to use it in the future?

JB: One of my co-authors posted it on Facebook, it got linked from various news sites, it’s linked on my lab website, and I intend to keep it linked in my CV at the corresponding paper. I think a lot of people have seen it. Colleagues have commented on it but it also initiated a discussion about my work between myself and my sister — not something we talk about usually.


About the authors

Tsuneya Ikezu

Photo credit: BU School of Medicine

Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu completed his undergraduate education at University of Tokyo School of Science and Arts, Japan. He earned his M. D. in 1991 and Ph.D. degrees from University of Tokyo School of Medicine in 1997. He joined the Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics with a joint appointment in the Department of Neurology in 2010 as a Professor. Dr. Ikezu also leads the Laboratory of Molecular Neurotherapeutics. He joined the BU ADC in March 2011.

Jan Brascamp

Photo credit: Greg Kohuth, MSUToday

Dr. Brascamp received his Ph.D. degree from Utrecht University in 2008, as a member of the lab of Bert van den Berg. After continuing at Utrecht, working as a postdoctoral researcher with Raymond van Ee, he joined the lab of Randolph Blake at Vanderbilt University in 2009. He returned to Utrecht University in 2011, first as a postdoctoral researcher with Serge Dumoulin, and then as an assistant professor. He has been an assistant professor at Michigan State University since 2015.

The Author

Global Communications Manager at AJE/Research Square