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Senator Wendy Davis + Tracy Dennis- Tiwary

The brain during a filibuster

Friday, March 2, 2018
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

On June 25, 2013, Texas state senator Wendy Davis took to the senate floor to embark upon what she hoped would be a thirteen-hour filibuster to delay the vote on a stringent abortion bill. Rules would keep her from relying on food, drink, any physical support, or use of a restroom. Donning pink tennis shoes, Davis delivered an impassioned speech against the restrictive bill. That evening, President Barack Obama tweeted, “something special is happening in Austin tonight.” At eleven hours, with crowds cheering her on, and intermittent objections from fellow senators, her time on the floor was brought to a close. Although her filibuster was just shy of her goal, the bill vote was still delayed. Davis joins Brainwave with psychology professor and emotion scientist Tracy Dennis- Tiwary to discuss what happens to the brain under time duress such as a filibuster. What role does willpower play in overcoming challenging physical circumstances?

Brainwave is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


About the Speakers

Former Texas state senator Wendy Davis is the founder of Deeds Not Words, an advocacy initiative that empowers millennial women to channel their passion and energy on issues of gender equality into actionable change. In her political career, which included a race for Governor of Texas, she has fought tirelessly for reproductive rights, equal pay for women, justice for sexual assault survivors, affordable quality education, and equality for the LGBTQ community.

Wendy’s public service career spans three decades and includes serving as a Fort Worth city councilperson for nine years prior to her election to the Texas State Senate. From very humble beginnings, Wendy worked as a single parent to forge a path to college, beginning at community college, earning a scholarship to Texas Christian University where she graduated first in her class, and ultimately graduating with honors from Harvard Law School.

Dr. Tracy Dennis- Tiwary is an emotion scientist and Professor in the Psychology Department at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has translated two decades of her research on the anxious brain and the fundamental impact of emotions on health into the development of clinically validated digital mental health tools, including her stress-reduction app Personal Zen. Her work in mindfulness-based stress reduction in at-risk youth is the topic of the documentary film Changing Minds at Concord High. She explores ideas about growing up and growing old in the digital age in her blog Psyche’s Circuitry and blogs about how emotions shape our lives in her Psychology Today blog, More Than a Feeling. She is the co-director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Health Technology and Wellness at Hunter College and the Stress, Anxiety, and Resilience Research Center. Dr. Dennis-Tiwary has appeared on stage at the Rubin for three previous Brainwave sessions: with Congressman Tim Ryan, the astronaut Scott Parazynski, martial artist Shi Yan Ming, and mindfulness entrepreneur Rohan Gunatillake.


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