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Brain blog showcase 2019: Alcohol: A Leading Health Risk or Protective Factor against Dementia?

All this week we’ve been showcasing the work of students who have been “researching the headlines” as part of their undergraduate studies. Their task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of the research. If you’re interested in using this approach in your own teaching, you can contact Alan Gow for more information and materials.

For our final “brain blog”, we have…

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Brain blog showcase 2019: Use it or lose it: Can intellectual engagement offset cognitive decline in older age?

All this week we’re showcasing the work of students who have been “researching the headlines” as part of their undergraduate studies. Their task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of the research. If you’re interested in using this approach in your own teaching, you can contact Alan Gow for more information and materials.

Next up in the “brain blog” showcase, we have…

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Brain blog showcase 2019: Students “research the headlines”

At Research the Headlines we explore how research is discussed in the media. We try to add additional details to existing coverage, or help our readers get a clearer understanding of how new research might make its way from “lab to headline”. Through different activities, we also help others develop the skills needed to become more critical consumers of both research and media reporting; for example, via our How to “Research the Headlines” series and our “Rewrite the Headlines”workshops and competition for primary school children.

Many of our contributors also use the ideas behind Research the Headlines in their teaching. In one of his undergraduate courses, Alan Gow (Heriot-Watt University) has his students find a recent media article related to lifestyle factors and brain health. Their task is to describe the original research that report is based on in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage. A key aim of these “brain blogs” is to explain the important concepts and take home messages, and to highlight issues in interpretation either in the media report or the underlying research.

Over the course of this week we’re showcasing the work of three students, all recent graduates in Psychology at Heriot-Watt. The blogs are presented as submitted by the students; they’ve not been edited. We hope you enjoy reading their work, and learning a bit more about the topics too! If you’re interested in using this approach in your own teaching, you can contact Alan Gow for more information and materials.

Starting the “brain blog” showcase, we have…

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Biodiversity at risk or eco-propaganda?

The first Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment summary for policy makers was released on the day prince Archie was born and the Met Gala took place. While nothing can quite compete for press attention with the birth of a royal baby and celebrities in fancy dress, the IPBES global assessment received plenty of press attention. Since late April, IPBES has featured in over 23 thousand articles. I have not read them all! Examples of press media coverage can be found here and here.

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Science communication and policy making

The Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) is today launching an exciting new project that will bring politicians and academics together. Five YAS members will shadow their respective MSPs at Holyrood and in their constituency. The politicians will then visit the academics at their institutions. Through this approach each member of the pair will gain an understanding on how the other part works and what challenges they face. You can follow all the action on social media with this hashtag #YASMSPPairing. The scheme is inspired by the well-established and highly successful annual pairing initiative organised at Westminster by The Royal Society, in which I was lucky to participate during 2017. (See picture with paired MP, Stephen Gethins.)

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Talking Headlines with Debbie Kennett

Debbie is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. She writes about DNA testing for Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine and Family Tree Magazine, and has written two books for the History Press: DNA and Social Networking and The Surnames Handbook. She promotes the responsible use of DNA testing as a tool for genealogical research. To this end she has helped to create educational resources for the genetic genealogy community, notably by co-founding the ISOGG Wiki. Her blog Cruwys News features articles on DNA, family history and surname research. She has been interviewed about genetic ancestry testing for BBC Radio 4, appearing on You and Yours and The Business of Genetic Ancestry. She is often asked to comment on DNA stories for the UK and US press and has been cited in numerous publications including The Times, The Observer, The Atlantic, Bloomberg News and The Washington Post. Debbie can be found on Twitter commenting and tweeting about anything to do with DNA.

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Looking back at Research the Headlines in 2018

2018 was another trying year for evidence-based journalism. Research the Headlines was set up in 2013 to examine how research is portrayed in the media, and to give the public helpful advice and tools when trying to get to the heart of a news story.

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Talking Headlines: Simon Fisher

Simon is director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and Professor of Language and Genetics at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, both in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He is interested in tracing the functional links between genes, brains and human traits like speech, language and reading. Simon’s research aims for a multi-disciplinary viewpoint, trying to integrate data from genomics, psychology, neuroscience, developmental biology and evolutionary anthropology. He is keen on communicating science in an accessible but accurate way, on Twitter (@ProfSimonFisher) and beyond. He has given talks at international conferences across a diverse range of fields, and spoken to school, student and public audiences, including at the Rome Science Festival and New Scientist Live. Simon is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, awards include the Francis Crick Lecture and Medal, and the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize.

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Research the Fringe 2018

Dear readers, as it’s August again we would like to welcome you to another roundup of research related shows on at the various festivals hosted in Edinburgh in the next few weeks. These include the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, its more prestigious elder, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the Edinburgh International TV Festival. As we have done in previous years we would like to provide suggestions for research-related shows and events for any Research the Headlines readers who may be visiting Edinburgh this month.

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Brain blog showcase: Do we really lose it if we don’t use it?

All this week we’ve been showcasing the work of students who have been “researching the headlines” as part of their undergraduate studies. Their task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of the research. If you’re interested in using this approach in your own teaching, you can contact Alan Gow (A.J.Gow@hw.ac.uk) for more information and materials.

For our final “brain blog”, we have…

Do we really lose it if we don’t use it?

by Chloe Meek

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