Institute of Neuroscience

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

Brain Awareness Week

Brain Awareness Week 2015

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a global initiative created by the DANA foundation to increase public awareness about brain research. Each year the Institute of Neuroscience tries to think of fun ways to engage people in the exciting world of brain science.

BAW 2015

We worked with the Tyneside cinema to put on 2 special film screenings. The film 'X plus Y' is about a teenage boy with Autism. It explores how he copes with the world around him and how those around him struggle to understand him. Dr Jeremy Parr, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Hon Consultant specialises in Autism and spoke about research being conducted at Newcastle.

The film Electricity was part filmed in the North East and follows the story of a young woman with Epilepsy as she searches for her brother. Dr Roger Whittaker, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Hon Consultant specialises in Epilepsy and spoke about the research being conducted at Newcastle.

Asteroid or 'Accurate STEReotest On a mobIle Device is a new research project to design a better test for conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (squint). Every year half a million children are diagnosed with conditions such as these but current diagnostic tests used by clinicians are very difficult to use with children and don't give very accurate or reliable data. The Asteroid team are using the latest 3D tablets to design a fun engaging game that children will play and will collect data about their vision at the same time. If a game could detect a potential vision disorder, wouldn’t you have a go? During BAW 2015 the Asteroid team gave an open lecture on the project. You can find more information on the Asteroid website.

The Great North Museum is a great place to spend a day and for BAW 2015 some of our research groups set up drop in stands to tell people about their research and let them have a go at a few fun tasks. Teams there on the day were from the Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource, The Asteroid Project, The CANDO Project and the Child Development Lab.


Demonstrating the real-world impact of our research and explaining why it is important is an essential task for all today's scientists. As a civic University we want to tell people about the cutting-edge research happening here on their doorstep.

It is essential that our researchers can explain their work to any audience whether young or old, scioentists or non-scientists. We was to enthuse people of all ages about brain science and perhaps inspire the next generation of Neuroscientists.

We encourage all our early career researchers and postgraduate students to become IoN Ambassadors and get involved with our outreach and engagement programme. Whether this is going into schools, visiting after school clubs such as scouts and brownies. Giving talks to adult learning groups, art workshops, or setting up drop in stands at the Centre for Life or the Great North Museum. We are always looking for new ways to interact and new groups to work with.

Further information

If you would like to work with us please contact Ann Fitchett,, 0191 208 8320.


The Arts

Art and neuroscience share a fascination with the human mind.  We promote collaborations between artists and neuroscientists to yield new insights into how the mind and brain work.

Visual Art

Recent collaborations have included the 'Reassembling the Self' exhibition at The Hatton and Vane galleries in Newcastle. Curated by artist, Susan Aldworth, the exhibition was the culmination of a residency within the Institute of Neuroscience and explored the relationship between schizophrenia and human identity. This exhibition has since gone on to show at the GV gallery in London and the Waterside Arts Centre in Manchester.

Professor Anya Hurlbert, whose research interests include colour vision, has been involved in a number of exhibitions include Touching Colour which took place at the Hatton Gallery and recently Making Colour at the National Gallery. As part of the exhibition visitors could take part in an experiment to find out how the brain makes colours from surface and lights. This exhibition was also featured on BBC radio 2’s: ‘Colour on the Radio’ a special week of programming focusing on visual arts.

Performance Art

The Noise was a theatrical collaboration between the Northern Stage and Unlimited Theatre. A murder mystery set on an isolated island where all the residents hear a constant noise which affects their behaviour. Prof Tim Griffiths from our Auditory research group gave the theatre company insights on the effects noise can have on people’s mood and behaviour.

Just Checking was a theatrical piece created by Vivid Theatre Company; aiming to explore the condition Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It told the story of a young man with OCD and his difficulty maintaining relationships with those close to him as he struggled to control his instrusive thoughts. 

Cap-a-Pie are a theatre company based in the heart of Newcastle using performance to strengthen collaborations between universities and community groups. Working with Dr Vivek Nityananda and using his research on insects they developed free drama workshops for humans of all ages taking place in Summer 2015.



Alzheimer's Research UK

Each year in association with Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK) we put on an information day to tell people about the latest research on dementia being conducted at Newcastle.

In 2015 over 100 people came to 'The Core' in Newcastle city centre to listen to talks from researchers. We know that many people may not have been able to make the day so we would like to share the presentations with you here.

Do you want to know more about Dementia? (PDF: 1.2MB) Presentation by Professor Raj Kalaria, Newcastle University

Funding world-class Dementia research (PDF: 1.6MB) Presentation by Dr Carla Cox, Alzheimer's Research UK

Delirium: an up-date (PDF: 1MB) Presentation by Dr Elizabeta Mukaetova-Ladinska, Newcastle University

Using brain imaging to understand Dementia (PDF: 1.11MB) Presentation by Professor Andrew Blamire, Newcastle University

Diet, vitamin D and cognition (PDF: 4.04MB) Presentation by Dr Tom Hill, Newcastle University