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Got a gut feeling everything is a hallucination? You may not be wrong!

We’ve been talking a lot about Delivering ChangeTM as of late, and one of the key components of the Delivering ChangeTM process is to seek external sources of inspiration to help drive unexpected creative approaches in our work. With that in mind, three of the team wandered over to the ExCel London for The New Scientist Live 2018. This year, in particular, we were impressed by the various methods of communication. Read on for some of our highlights:

Gut health: the secret to happiness? – Megan Rossi, Clinical Dietitian – King’s College London

Marketed as the latest craze in mainstream media, Megan argued that the benefits of gut health are in fact grounded in robust scientific evidence. Research suggests a direct relationship between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis.

By sticking to a plant-based diet and therefore consuming a large and varied amount of fibre, a healthy gut microbiota can be maintained. This, in turn, can alleviate some symptoms of depression. Interestingly, this relationship works the other way around also; a healthy mind maintains a healthy gut microbiota.

Megan took us through the proposed mechanisms of this axis in a concise, jargon-free and informal style. The use of rhetorical questions and metaphors such as, ‘Do you ever feel sick to the stomach with nerves?’ galvanised interest from the outset. Large bits of research were packed into simple, easy-to-digest messages ensuring the audience weren’t overwhelmed but were engaged, informed and entertained throughout.

Perhaps diet is the new antidepressant?

Why reality is a hallucination – Andy Clark, Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist – University of Edinburgh

Attracting the largest audience of the day, this presentation explored how the predictive power of the brain helps shape our reality. Previous experience, expectation and sensory input are used to predict and construct the world that is perceived. Applying this logic, the world you experience is simply a hallucination fueled by the predictions your brain makes.

Auditory and visual demonstrations were used to evidence claims as well as engage the audience through their interaction. For example, a seemingly nonsensical bleeping sound was played followed by a second sensical statement sound. The first sound was then played again and to the audience’s astonishment we were able to hear the words from the statement within the original, seemingly non-sensical bleeping sound. Our brains used previous experience to predict and alter the perception of the initial sound.

Enter the world of dementia – Alzheimers Research UK, Humans Zone

With an ageing population, dementia is on the rise and stands as one of the greatest medical challenges we face in today’s society. Alzheimer’s UK have made it their mission to challenge the misconceptions surrounding the disease.

Their stand at the event harnessed virtual reality, putting you into an everyday scenario such as making a journey home, but viewed from the perspective of someone living with dementia. Within seconds, the poor spatial navigation skills, memory deficiencies and an overwhelming negative sense that ‘something is wrong’ was apparent.

The application of technology to better our understanding and empathy towards these commonly misunderstood neurological disorders was a highlight of the day.

Much like previous years, our visit was thoroughly enjoyable and an event to learn much from. The enthusiasm and different ways scientists communicated is something we endeavor to implement at CHC.

Image result for a walk through dementia