Neuroscience latest news

Read the latest news from the neuroscience project.

Keeping up to date with neuroscience in 2021 and beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the work of organisations and services across the UK. We are doing all we can to support members during this challenging time.

We appreciate that members’ ability to engage with education and training may be limited to remote learning. As a result, we are developing a series of online opportunities for you to maintain and develop your knowledge and understanding of recent advances in clinically relevant, cutting-edge neuroscience.

We've announced that during the pandemic, there will be no limit on eLearning that can be counted for CPD; it will be possible for all 50 credits to be obtained in this way. You can find out more on our eLearning pages.

Visit our Neuroscience resources page to find out more.

Neuroscience Spring Conference 2021, 26 March 2021

Our annual flagship event, the Neuroscience Spring Conference (‘NSC’), is firmly established as 'the place where neuroscience meets psychiatry'. The first RCPsych conference to be dedicated exclusively to neuroscience, it is now a permanent fixture in the College’s calendar.

This year’s virtual conference environment gave us greater global reach and enabled us to welcome participants from countries across every continent, including: Australia; Canada; Chile; Egypt; France; Hong Kong; India; New Zealand; Singapore; Spain; Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA, as well as from every corner of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

With a similarly international line-up of outstanding speakers, NSC2021 proved to appeal to large numbers of psychiatrists. The previous year-on-year growth in audience numbers continued, with a 28% increase in registered participants, compared with 2020. This included not only consultant psychiatrists, but also medical students, foundation doctors, psychiatric trainees and SAS doctors.

As always, there was plenty of engagement among the audience and more questions for the speakers than we had time to answer on the day. Many participants took to Twitter during the presentations, connecting with the host, Wendy Burn, as well as each other to enhance their experience of the conference. A key development in the format for this year was the addition of a round-table discussion involving all the speakers. This generated an outstanding, free-flowing discussion and is an element that we will look to retain in future years.

We offer a huge vote of thanks to our outstanding speakers, Professors Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University, CA, USA), Carmen Sandi (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland) and Anil Seth (University of Sussex, UK).

'Brain Camp: Inspiring excellence in neuroscience education’, is the training-the-trainers programme from the RCPsych’s Gatsby/Wellcome Neuroscience Project.

These one-day immersive events feature masterclasses on cutting-edge neuroscience presented by leading researchers from across the UK. Typical topics include:

  • Neuroinflammation and dementia
  • Gene polymorphisms and response to drug treatment
  • Brain imaging to investigate psychotic symptoms
  • The neurobiological basis of resilience to depression
  • How life events change our behaviour at the molecular level

Derek Tracy conference speaker presenting

We keep the number of participants small to give you more opportunities to engage with speakers, reflect on your own practice, interact with colleagues and learn from each other.

You'll take part in practical workshops, small group work and role plays, such as:

  • Talking to your Patient about the Brain
  • Making your Journal Club a Success Story
  • And the ever-popular ‘Build your Brain with Play Doh’ hands-on neuroanatomy class

Play Doh brain modelling group activity

You'll share ideas and experiences with peers and colleagues and see examples of innovative approaches and best practice in the teaching and learning of neuroscience from outstanding educators.

Psychiatrists in role play

Brain Camps are for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of modern neuroscience applied to psychiatry and developing their teaching skills, including:

  • Teachers with no background in neuroscience
  • MRCPsych Course Coordinators
  • Training Programme Directors
  • Directors of Medical Education
  • Higher trainees

Psychiatrists in small group discussion

Our aim is that you'll leave Brain Camp feeling inspired, more in touch with modern neuroscience and more confident in your ability to teach neuroscience to trainees.

The special character of Brain Camps means that you'll gain most from the experience when we return with face-to-face events. Watch this space for news!

'Brain Camp': Supporting a high-quality educational experience in neuroscience for trainee psychiatrists. For all enquiries, please contact

A Psychiatrist among Neuroscientists

The 2019 meeting of the British Neuroscience Association was undoubtedly a commemoration of neuroscientific knowledge, but the denomination of “Festival” was misleading: this was no party. Four days packed with sessions with a wide range of exhilarating, current and relevant themes. On top of this, the international panel of speakers did not miss a beat and were outstanding. The ability to be in two or more places at the same time would have been handy, but alas, I had to choose the sessions I felt would be most relevant for me.

BNA Festival of Neuroscience 14th -17th April 2019

To anyone thinking that a clinical psychiatrist would struggle with the content of a full-blown neuroscientific conference – this is not the case! The relevance of neuroscience in psychiatry is such that there were plenty of lectures available to meet the needs and curiosity of a psychiatrist. Amongst them was one of my personal favourites – a discussion of neurobiological candidates for the rapid antidepressant response to ketamine. This topic is very current and “hyped” at the moment and the discussion of the potential role of dopamine, glutamate and, surprisingly, opioid receptors in the antidepressant effect of ketamine certainly sparked my interest.

My highlight of the next two days was listening to Professor Essi Viding discussing psychopathy and the old debate of nature vs. nurture. It turns out we are all very bad at detecting lies, contrary to what some parents might want to believe!

Starting the final day with a discussion on sleep and the neuroendocrine system was particularly interesting taking into account that psychiatrists work nights and often ignore the impact of sleep disruption.

Appropriately, I left Dublin exhausted, but motivated by the advances happening throughout the neuroscientific community. Every psychiatrist should attend this type of conference from time to time.

Soraia Sousa

ST4 trainee
RCPsych Neuroscience Champion for Northeast England and Gatsby BNA Travel Fellow 2019

Friday 29th January 2021

This year's SWNeuroNet 'Update' was a fascinating series of virtual presentations on the cutting edge  neuroscience that is helping to shape our understanding of psychosis  throughout the lifecycle.

Using a clinical case as a backdrop, we explored a range of topics, including: genetics, autoimmune psychiatry, neuroimaging, perinatal  psychosis and cognition in psychosis.

Speakers included:

  • Professor Paul Fletcher, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Belinda Lennox, University of Oxford
  • Dr Harry Rolinski, University of Bristol
  • Dr Marisa Casanova-Dias, University of Cardiff
  • Professor Rob Howard, University College London

This event was an initiative of the SW Neuronet in association with the RCPsych Neuroscience  Project which is supported by The Gatsby Foundation and Wellcome Trust.

Thanks and congratulations to the organisers of this important meeting, especially Dr Lindsey Sinclair and RCPsych Neuroscience Champions for SW England Dr George Morris and Dr Gabrielle Churchhouse.

This summer, the Neuroscience Project team is bringing a series of online events to your screen.

Save the dates in your diary and watch out for programme details and booking information on our Neuroscience events page

Each event will feature a line-up of speakers drawn from a specific region or nation, all of them working at the cutting edge of efforts to understand the brain and psychiatric disorders.

Engage, interact and network with local academic researchers and clinical colleagues as we turn the spotlight on some of the exciting neuroscience happening near you.

This summer programme is organised by the RCPsych Neuroscience Champions and NeuroNets supported by the RCPsych Gatsby/Wellcome Neuroscience Project.

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry