A Day on Neuroscience - The Weekend University

Explore the mysterious inner workings of the human mind in this series of talks from leading neuroscientists and university professors.

Right now, tens of billions of neurons are working together in your brain so you can read these words.

How does this happen?

For the longest time, the brain was life’s greatest mystery; something we never thought we’d understand.

Now, recent developments in neuroscience are beginning to shed some light into the mysterious inner workings of this incredible organ, and the findings are nothing less than astounding.

In this series of talks, three of the UK’s leading neuroscientists will explore:

  • The Neuroscience of Near Death Experiences; what happens in the brain during a near death experience?
  • The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy; can psychotherapy re-shape and re-wire the human mind, and create lasting changes?
  • The Neuroscience of Laughter; what is the brain basis of laughter, and why did it evolve in humans?

You’ll learn how these insights can deepen your self-awareness, and enhance your experience of everyday life.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: The Neuroscience of Near Death Experiences – Dr Tamara Russell, PhD
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy – Professor Oliver Turnbull, PhD
  • 3:00pm – 3:15pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:15pm – 5:00pm: The Neuroscience of Laughter – Professor Sophie Scott, PhD
  • 5:20pm – 7:00pm: Attendee Social & Networking (Optional)

Full Day Pass: £42.50 + booking fee

Student Pass: £22.50 + booking fee


Sunday 30th June 2019

09:30 – 17:00 BST

Add to Calendar
30/06/2019 09:30 AM
30/06/2019 5:00 PM
Birkbeck, University of London, London
The Weekend University – A Day on Neuroscience

Birkbeck, University of London,
Malet Street, Bloomsbury,
London, WC1E 7HX

Lectures & Speakers

The Neuroscience of Near Death Experiences – Dr Tamara Russell, PhD

Join neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Dr. Tamara Russell as she dives into this dense topic in a fun and interactive talk. Discover the phenomena of near-death experiences and how this research area continues to develop as more and more individuals share their observations following contact with “temporary” death. Learn about the neuroscientific attempts to understand these shifts in consciousness and the debates arising about what is considered “data” on this topic. Are near death experiences a paradigm-shifting challenge to the materialist position of “mind equals brain”, or just images and impressions that represent the last gasp of the dying brain as consciousness ebbs and flows?

Adopting a mindful and compassionate lens of investigation, Tamara will present both positions and offer a route to accommodating diversity of thinking that evolves the standard (predominantly western) bio-medical model. This vantage point allows us to stay curious, consider more culturally diverse opinions and hold an awareness of multiple models so we can extract the best of all positions. What can emerge if we can hold such a position of “not knowing” and willingness to be “wrong” or let go of the brain-dependent view of consciousness? At the heart of the matter, the phenomenology of the lived experience is our primary source of data, so what is a skillful way to understand these (often transformative) experiences in a way that can benefit humanity? Are you ready? Let’s dive in ….

Reading Recommendations:

Dr Tamara Russell - The Weekend University

Dr. Tamara Russell is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist who works with individuals and organisations advising on how to use mindfulness techniques to optimise performance and improve mental and physical well-being. She is the Director of the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence, London, which has as its aim the evaluation of creative yet authentic mindfulness applications for all spheres of life.

Combining her clinical, neuroscience and martial arts training, Dr. Russell’s approach engages both body and mind, for a total solution to manage the stressors of our modern working environment.

She specialises in delivering mindfulness training in the health sector, running introductory workshops for mental health workers and other health professionals. She is also the co-founder of ‘The Death Incubator‘ – an immersive and interactive learning experience which aims to improve individuals’ understanding of how to relate to end of life experiences.

The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy – Professor Oliver Turnbull, PhD

This lecture surveys the parts of the brain-mind that are at the heart of psychotherapy. It begins with a brief survey of the basic emotion systems, including their anatomy and chemistry. Examples include the separation between ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’, a distinction which can be very helpful clinically. This literature also suggests that these emotion systems are ‘ancient’ (in evolutionary terms), that they are based on a wide range of subcortical brain regions, and that they appear to be evolutionarily conserved – certainly across mammals (and probably other vertebrate species). The literature also suggests the role of these emotion systems in recreational drug use, and in the pharmacotherapies that are at the heart of organic psychiatry.

These findings therefore bring together several elements of the neuroscience of mental health, in a way which is scientifically very satisfying, and suggests genuine progress in the field.

Finally, the lecture focuses on the neuropsychology of emotion regulation, showing which brain areas are responsible for skills that underpin psychotherapy. This includes key therapeutic abilities such as reappraisal and response modulation, and also the role of emotion in decision-making and delusional beliefs. Notably, these findings allow us to investigate the way that therapeutic experience and outcome are altered (or not) after brain injury, suggesting that a genuine ‘neuroscience of psychotherapy’ is within our grasp: an inter-discipline which has important clinical implications for how we design and implement treatment. If this injury was caused by neglegance, then the patient should receive compensation and might want to learn more from a personal injury lawyer. This compensation can help cover the cost of this therapeutic treatment. This is important too, your brain is your most important part of your body because that is what makes you, you. You can’t let anyone damage it, and if they do, you have to get justice. We are very lucky we have lawyers that specialise in this area, such as a Texas brain injury lawyer, because it is such a serious case. The brain will forever be the most special and most studied function in the history of life forms!

Reading Recommendations:

Professor Oliver Turnbull - The Weekend University

Professor Turnbull is a neuropsychologist, with an interest in emotion and its many consequences for mental life. He is also a clinician, whose work is with patients with neurological lesions, especially those who have suffered cerebro-vascular accident (stroke) and traumatic brain injury.

He is the author of roughly 150 publications on these topics, and (together with Mark Solms) is the co-author of the popular science book ‘The Brain and the Inner World’, which has been translated into 11 languages. For many years, he was the Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Neuropsychoanalysis, and Secretary of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society.

The Neuroscience of Laughter – Professor Sophie Scott, PhD

Why do we laugh? Is it really all about comedy and humour? Can we ever take laughter seriously? In this talk, Professor Sophie Scott will explore the evolutionary roles of laughter and explore its use by mammals.

The lecture will establish the complex ways that humans use laughter, from social bonding to jokes, address how we learn to laugh, and how our understanding of laughter changes as we age.

Professor Scott will then go on to discuss individual differences in laughter and what this may mean, explore the brain basis of laughter, and look at laughter as a communicative behaviour. Finally, the talk will establish the ways that laughter can be used, jointly, to regulate stressful situations, and the kinds of relationships where this use of laughter may be possible.

Reading Recommendations:

Professor Sophie Scott - The Weekend University

Professor Sophie Scott is a British neuroscientist, Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at University College London, and a pioneering researcher in the science of laughter. She was the recipient of a Provost’s Award for Public Engagement in 2012, and her 2015 TED talk: ‘Why we Laugh’ has been viewed more than 3 million times.

Professor Scott’s research investigates the cognitive neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter – particularly speech perception, speech production, vocal emotions and human communication. As deputy director of the University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Sophie seeks out the neurological basis of communication, whether it’s speech or vocalized emotion. In her spare time, she is a stand up comedian with UCL’s bright club.

What TWU attendees are saying:

    4 star review  Great initiative. Eminent speakers, fascinating talks.

    Jan Erik Paulden Avatar Jan Erik Paulden
    February 25, 2018

    positive review  Great talks at the One Day in Neuroscience event - really enjoyed the speakers, topics and questions from the audience - very interesting people all around!

    Silvia Kolu Avatar Silvia Kolu
    July 1, 2019

    positive review  Unpacking some complex subjects in a way that makes sense to an amateur like me; I had a fantastic day full of brain food, followed by drinks at the local pub talking about the day with several other attendees. Very well organised. Don't come to be entertained, expect to have some hard thinking, some audience participation and deep discussions.

    John O'Rourke Avatar John O'Rourke
    August 27, 2018
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The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.


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