UCL News


New module explores how the brain works and what can go wrong

21 September 2018

The Faculty of Brain Sciences launched its new module 'How the brain works and what can go wrong' for the UCL Summer School this year.

UCL Summer School How the brain works and what can go wrong

The module, the first of its kind at UCL, aimed to inspire and support the Summer School students' interest in neuroscience. The students came from variety of degree disciplines - from psychology, nursing, medicine, biochemistry, to fine art.

Over a course of three weeks students from France, Italy, Brazil, South Korea, Australia, China, Hong Kong, USA, and Egypt got to hear about the world-class research that takes place within the Faculty of Brain Sciences and its constituent parts: Divisions of Psychiatry, and Psychology and Language Sciences, the Institutes of Ophthalmology, Neurology, and Prion Diseases and the Ear Institute.

During week one the course looked at what we know about healthy brains including how the brain is structured, the different types of brain cells, localisation of function and neurochemistry of different brain areas, communication within the brain and how we investigate the brain. In weeks two and three the course looked at dysfunction in relation to vision, hearing, movement, memory, thinking, emotion and behaviour.

A student from Egypt, Nour, whose interdisciplinary background revolves around children, said the course was "captivating" and inspired her to continue to challenge herself.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity to study at one of the world's leading institutes for neuroscience and was therefore ecstatic and taken aback that my hard work was rewarded in the results I achieved.

"Given the incredible experience I had at the summer school - as a result of the high-quality teaching, captivating modules, and amazing staff - I've decided to apply for postgraduate study at UCL beginning next year," said Nour.

Dr Julie Evans, Faculty Tutor and course organiser, said there is still a stigma attached to neurological disorders and mental illness therefore it's important for young people to understand how brain related illnesses occur.

"They're the generation who will be coping with the massive global impact of dementia, for example in their grandparents and parents, so it's important they are exposed to this information and understand the impact it can have," said Dr Evans.

According to the Mental Health Foundation UK mental health is a growing public health concern, every week, 1 in 6 adults experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression and 1 in 5 adults has considered taking their own life at some point.

Further to this, The Lancet reveals dementia is the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century; around 50 million people worldwide have dementia and this number is predicted to triple by 2050.

"The research being conducted at UCL in the Faculty of Brain Sciences is aimed at producing effective interventions to alleviate symptoms and help individuals suffering from these illnesses lead as rewarding and productive a life as possible," said Dr Evans. "With the summer school, we hope to continue to encourage the next generation to get involved in this research area in order to make real change."