SMASHED ON SCIENCE
The debut of the ‘Pint of Science‘ festival recently took over Exeter pubs, and Exeposé Science and Tech are here to give you the best bits, and fill you in on what you may have missed.
Jenya Siryk provides a short snippet from the presentation “Tempted, sugar coated and emotional!?!”, hosted by Prof. Noel Morgan at The Rusty Bike.
It was around 7pm when the scientists from around the area, Exeter university students and regular people
interested in science, started showing up at the OddFellows for the second night of the International Science
Festival “Pint of Science 2015”.
On the plate for tonight were the talks by three speakers unravelling the mysterious workings of neurocognitive mechanisms and their relevance to our everyday emotions and behaviour.
The first speaker was Professor Ian McLaren, talking about Pavlovian
Conditioning and Inhibition Training in the light of everyday decision
making and self-control. Everyday life is full of temptations and every now and then our self-control fails so that we can no longer suppress our urges. We take risks we shouldn’t take. We make impulsive decisions we are going to regret. Ian spoke about his recent work on the workings of a human mind in controlling behaviours such as overeating, excessive drinking and drug abuse. Ian also shared some ground-breaking ideas of therapeutic training tasks for strengthening people’s ability to resist temptations.
Next, Dr. Craig Beal spoke to us about sugar. More precisely, the exact workings of the brain in sensing and utilising sugar, as well as bodily mechanisms responsible for a continuous supply of glucose to the brain cells. Understanding the neurological underpinnings of sugar utilisation by the brain is crucial for understanding and
treatment of diabetes, whereby sugar levels are often either too high or too low. Can the brain adapt with ease to the frequent low sugar levels? And should we intervene, or leave the body and the brain to self-regulation processes? Dr. Beale’s talk appeared close to the hearts of a number of members of the audience and
generated an engaged discussion in the Q&A at the end of the talk.
Last, but not least, Jaison Kolenchery provided an insight into the neuroscience of emotion as the primary
motivation for the majority of human behaviours. Emotions were discussed in the light of their evolutionary
importance and their underpinning neurocognitive mechanisms. The most recent research into emotions and
cognitions in animals was explored in terms of its direct relevance to our understanding and treatment of mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder using the fear emotion as an example.
Overall, the evening of stimulating talks, engaging speakers and engaged audience, passionate scientific
discussions, pints and homemade potato wedges left a pleasant mark of a happy smile on the faces of those who attended. Although it certainly would not be a bad idea to rent out a bigger pub for the Pint of Science 2016, which we are looking forward to with much excitement.
For more of our ‘Pint of Science’ articles (Smashed on Science), click here!