2017’s Science Festival theme of getting personal inspired some interesting topic discussions, Sex, Lies and Brainscans, Sport is good for teamwork and exercise but what about your brain? Both discussions led by Barbara Sahakian, the HTC’s cognition lead, filled the lecture rooms, ending equally with engaging Q&A session from curious, thought-provoked audiences. Our final event with Headway accrued a large interactive audience; overall we believe we made a positive contribution to the festival.
Sex, Lies, and Brainscans
“Brilliant – appropriately pitched for a mixed audience and very thought provoking.”
Introduced by Professor Barbara J Sahakian, the event title shared with her and Dr Julia Gottwald’s book published early this year, debates the potential use of brain scans in the future, and abuses relying on technology alone can produce.
“Lovely event, excellent panel, left me wanting more.”
Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scans has opened many avenues of exploration into the information they can bring, creating debate on how useful they can be for reading minds. The talk raised many ethical issues, particularly in response to companies using fMRI technology for lie detection, and on placing judgments; Professor Molly Crocket expressed her concern through the concept of false memory.
“Very interesting subject. The clinical aspects were particularly good, bringing home how truly difficult it is to assess patients even with advances in technology.”
Ethical issues were also raised on using scans to determine which individuals have moral judgement, the impact on law and measuring people’s abilities. We may potentially restructure societies hierarchy naturally; through bio enhancement, chemical manipulative response, to alter or ensure there is no change.
Who monitors the companies and their commercial gains from these products, deciphering and ensuring consistency of translated information?
“Fantastic spread of content across three speakers and chair, excellent pitch for me and my friends, enjoyable and highly informative.”
Professor John Pickard explored the future of brain scans and their constructive use, with particular reference to physical or mental head injuries, diagnosed or undiagnosed, being the cause of criminal behaviour. He believes there are many people in prisons who should in fact be in hospitals. The audience of 400 agreed.
“Four presenters spoke on different aspects of a potentially huge topic. Interesting snippets of info, I’d like to hear more, and in much depth, at a future Festival please!”
Sport is good for exercise and teamwork but what about your brain?
Professor Barbara Sahakian hosted a lively talk to a lecture theatre filled with 230, contributions came from various perspectives in the field of research concerning Sport and the brain. Determining whether risks outweigh benefits, how idiosyncrasies make it impossible to give a ruling answer.
Boxing and football, where head impact occurs on multiple occasions are of concern and open for further investigation. Peter Hutchinson spoke of research on new students to the University and to Boxing, one participant to date, has shown no evidence of injury.
Professor Peter Hutchinson, lead Medic for Formula one discussed the process from injury to recovery. During the final question answer session the idea of the helmet was raised, the concern of peripheral vision impairment, causing the brain injuries the protection is supposed to prevent, no defining answers given.
Dr George Savulich brought a new game ‘Peak Wizard’ for memory testing in patients with Schizophrenia, showing one example of how our mobile phones can be used for gamified, targeted cognitive training. Mike Crofts discussed bringing his background in rugby politics, and leadership to young offenders, engaging and supportive leadership like this can aid prevention as well as rehabilitation.
Dr Michael Hart spoke on understanding brain function; his studies on connectomics and network effects of focal lesions, support his interest and work improving safety by understanding neurobiological mechanisms.
There is a general consensus that most sports and general exercise are good for cognition, mood and physical health.
Hands-on science at the UTC open day
Submerse yourself in the depths of space discovering wonders, through expelling your curiosity within the infrastructures the architecture creates. Many companies contributed to the day, from exposing Genomics, to bringing the Cam into the building along with those to whom it provides a home, predominantly fresh water shrimp.
We brought Headway to the HTC, they are in the process of creating a new board game, and took this opportunity to test on the curious, the brain injured, friends and families who came along to support the event. Those who chose to take part interacted in an encouraging, non-competitive, supportive direction, reflecting that of the directors of the session. Debate was encouraged; the game fulfilled its purpose in providing questions to challenge aspects of memory, concentration, communication, behavioural responses, planning & organisation. The Festival overall was an incredible success, 2100 attended the UTC open day, 3750 overall visited the Biomedical Campus.