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