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Archive for the 'Brain Sciences' Category

Lunch Hour Lecture: Childhood maltreatment through the lens of neuroscience and epigenetics

ThomasHughes26 February 2016

How do childhood experiences affect a child’s propensity to mental health issues later in life? Can childhood trauma be directly linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety? In this Lunch Hour Lecture by Professor Eamon McCrory (UCL Psychology and Language Sciences), he demonstrated how epigenetics and neurocognitive research is helping to understand how brains adapt to adversity.

As society is beginning to recognise the importance of mental health, more effort has been put into finding how the brain processes this abuse or neglect in children so that we can formulate preventative treatment.

Parts of the brain affected by abuse and trauma.

Parts of the brain affected by abuse and trauma.

Rats and the epigenetics of nurture

Professor McCrory started by talking about epigenetics research with rats. Those brought up in a nurturing environment, where the mother cares for the young, grow up to demonstrate less stress and anxiety. They also grow up to be nurturing parents themselves.

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Could this be the way to get your research into the public eye?

GuestBlogger15 December 2015

pencil-icon  Written by Olivia Stevenson & Greg Tinker with Michael Kenny, Catherine Miller & Graeme Reid

Scientists and researchers from across academia are engaged in research that could make a difference to the world, but until you take it beyond the university doors its impact and reach will remain low.

Select Committee noticeUCL and the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary, University of London, teamed up to host a public event with parliamentary insiders and evidence experts, exploring how academia could engage the world of government, particularly through select committees.

The question on everyone’s mind was ‘can this type of academic-government engagement generate real world impacts?’ Here is what our speakers told us:

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Lunch Hour Lectures: Distracted, confused and unaware – the elusive gift of attention

KilianThayaparan24 October 2014

Active brain“I hope you’re not all here for the wrong reason – so distracted, confused and unaware that you can’t pay attention”, Professor Nilli Lavie (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) joked at the beginning of her lecture on the psychology and brain research of attention. One would suspect that among the packed out audience, many (like myself) were in fact there in the hope of a ‘cure’ for the attention difficulties we all face in our everyday lives.

Professor Lavie first provided a succinct yet simple definition of ‘attention’, describing it as a process of gathering our mental resources and focusing on a portion of information around us; a selective focus of our neural and mental processes.

She then posed two specific questions with regards to this: Why at some times are we so distracted that we can’t pay attention? And why at other times do we pay so much attention that we don’t notice important things that are happening around us?

Focusing on her first question, Professor Lavie provided some examples of where distraction occurs in our everyday lives; at work, research has shown that distractions take up 2.1 hours of the working day, whilst on the road, we’re exposed to both internal (e.g. mobile phones, children) and external (e.g. billboards, accidents) distractions.

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Medical imaging with light, sound and sugar (!) at the Royal Summer Science Exhibition

Thomas ARoberts9 July 2014

Have you ever broken a bone and been for an MRI scan? Perhaps your dentist has interrogated your fillings with an14520757366_9435d47805 x-ray of your jaw. Or maybe you’ve seen a baby curled in its mother’s womb on an ultrasound machine. Medical imaging has revolutionised our lives to the point where we can see inside our bodies with incredible clarity. But now a new wave of imaging techniques is coming.

Now, we can use light to illuminate deep inside our bodies to see individual, microscopic cells dividing. We can use sound to generate exquisitely detailed images of blood vessels. And, we can even use sugar to make tumours within our bodies glow.

At this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, held last week, my colleagues and I from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) exhibited the next generation of techniques that we are developing in our lab which push the boundaries of what we can see inside the human body. Having conquered the Cheltenham Science Festival, the CABI team showcased  a completely new exhibition.

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