Nava Levit Binnun
ד"ר נועה אלבלדה
I completed my BA in physics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and then went on to complete an MA and a a PhD in neuroscience at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Following the completion of my PhD studies I joined the Baruch Ivtcher School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. All along my carrer I try to use the unique tools I acquired during my physics studies. For example, during my MA studies I combined the research interests of professor Rafi Malach from the neurobiology department and those of professor Tamar Flash from the applied mathematics department. My PhD and post-doctoral studies were carried out under the supervision of professor Elisha Moses from the physics department. Even today, some of my studies are collaboration with the Weizmann Institute’s physics department.
I am married and a mother of two boys. Watching my sons develop has taught me more about the brain than any book I read, class I participated in or study I conducted. I believe a good neuroscientist should develop tools that allow him to observe the reality and experience of human life in order to ask interesting questions. These tools are called contemplative tools (contemplation means “creating a space for observation”). By observing our inner experiences in a non-judgmental way we can discover phenomena which we are not always aware of in our daily lives, but are crucial to widening our knowledge of the human mind. I try to teach these tools to the students which I supervise and teach.
Currently, I run the Sagol Center for Brain and Mind and I have a deep belief that neuroscientists are not only capable of but are obligated to making the world a better place. Accordingly, in 2009 I founded the Muda Institute for Mindfulness, Science and Society which operates as part of the Sagol Center. This institute focuses on promoting and implementing the vast knowledge accrued from neuroscientific research about our ability to nurture positive mental traits such as resilience, well-being, mindfulness and awareness, compassion and empathy, giving and caring and altruism and tolerance. At the Muda Institute we believe that these traits are essential to our ability as individuals and as a society to deal with the personal, societal and political challenges facing us. In order to advance this belief, the Muda Institute develops interventions and professional development programs aimed at creating agents of social change that will help develop and nurture positive mental traits in formal and non-formal educational, health, business, legal and public systems.
I run my neuroscience lab in full cooperation with Dr. Yulia Golland. We are trying to develop and new model of scientific research which will enable both men and women to be active and involved parents and not just successful scientists. We collaborate in running the lab as well as in thinking about, planning and carrying out the actual work. Happily, we have a wonderful team of research associates and students helping us carry out this mission.
Apart from brain research, at the Sagol Center we also integrate knowledge from many fields of study in order to create a dialogue between neuroscience, education and clinical psychology. Our aim is to advance new ways of thinking in these fields and create new paradigms for education and therapy. The results of this integration can be found in our knowledge center run by Dr.Noa Albelda, our lab manager and research associate.
Current research fields
The research in our lab can be divided into basic and applied research. We explore the qualities underlying healthy brains and minds such as brain resilience, interpersonal interactions, self awareness, mindfulness, compassion and friendship. In order to understand what it means to be psychologically healthy and how we can nurture this health we study “healthy” brains and brains which are vulnerable (autism, schizophrenia and ADHD).