More than 50 enthusiastic participants converged on Birmingham on 1 June for the latest instalment of ‘Inspiring excellence in neuroscience education’, the training-the-trainers programme from the RCPsych’s Gatsby/Wellcome Neuroscience Project.
The event drew people from across the West Midlands and beyond and we were excited to welcome our first international participant to Brain Camp in the shape of Professor Gerry Craigen of the University of Toronto, Canada.
A packed programme featured presentations on cutting-edge neuroscience research from Dr Mandy Johnstone (University of Edinburgh) and Dr David Cousins (Newcastle University).
Dr Johnstone, a Clinical Research Fellow and Liaison Psychiatrist, held the room transfixed as she described how skin biopsies from patients with schizophrenia can be turned into cerebral organoids and grown in vitro as a model to study brain development.
Later, Clinician Scientist Dr Cousins showed some fascinating imaging studies that he and ‘Team Lithium’ have been involved in to investigate the distribution of lithium in the brain.
A key part of the day was a series of interactive sessions to illustrate engaging approaches to the teaching and learning of neuroscience.
Dr Cousins ran an extremely popular masterclass on ‘Teaching Imaging Techniques’, and this was followed by practical workshops on ‘Talking to your Patient about the Brain’, ‘Making your Journal Club a Success Story’, and the ever-popular ‘Build your Brain’ hands-on neuroanatomy with Play Doh, which everyone found hugely enjoyable.
Active participation is a hallmark of Brain Camps and everyone was eagerly involved throughout the day.
There was universal enthusiasm for the presentations and the ample time allowed for discussion, the sharing of ideas and good practice was thoroughly appreciated.
After taking part in Brain Camp, people felt much more in touch with modern neuroscience research and much more confident in their ability to teach neuroscience to trainees. Brain Camp, and the Neuroscience Project, will continue to ‘inspire excellence in neuroscience education’.
Our thanks to Angela Appleby, RCPsych West Midlands Division Manager, for her help in putting the event together.
Watch out for announcements on further Brain Camp opportunities around the UK later in 2018.
'Brain Camp': Supporting a high-quality educational experience in neuroscience for trainee psychiatrists. For all enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.