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

Thomas Hughes26 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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Oblivion and memorialisation: legacies of Nazi persecution in Europe

Thea G R Cassel6 February 2014

With the approach of Holocaust Memorial Day, this Lunch Hour Lecture was aptly timed. I entered the lecture with feelings of interest and curiosity, but also inevitable apprehension

Auschwitz entrance Credit –http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/

Auschwitz entrance
Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/

Having attended another of Professor Mary Fulbrook’s (UCL German) lectures on the Holocaust at last year’s UCL Festival of the Arts, I knew that she was a passionate and brilliant speaker who provokes the audience into questioning not just what has happened in the past, but also how we remember it today.

However, the subject being as sensitive and traumatic as it is, I wasn’t expecting an easy ride. I was pleasantly surprised.

Remembered sites
Professor Fulbrook didn’t delve too far into gory details and instead focused on the places and people we remember from the Holocaust, and what they tell us about what and who we remember at the expense of others who have been marginalised by our memorialisation.

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