Brain Awareness Week at Roehampton

This week is Brain Awareness Week, a high-profile global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.

Posted: 11 March 2014

image for news story Brain Awareness Week at Roehampton

Universities and research organisations across the globe will be hosting a variety of educational activities for the general public, including lectures, lab tours, classroom visits and exhibitions, all highlighting the importance of brain research to health and wellbeing.

Department of Life Sciences wants to raise awareness of the risks and dangerous effects of legal 'highs' on the brain.

Legal 'highs' are novel psychoactive drugs, which are as dangerous as Ecstasy and cocaine, but young people may use them with no understanding of the dangers and their detrimental effects on the brain. Legal 'highs' can kill and tragically, a number of young people have died after using legal highs in the UK and abroad.

One example of a legal 'high' is Benzo Fury which has been researched by the Department's Dr Jolanta Opacka-Juffry and Dr Colin Davidson of St George’s University of London. Their research found that the drug might be dangerous due to stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Their findings have since influenced the Advisory Council for Misuse of Drugs to recommend banning the drug and its derivatives as class B drugs in the UK. It is an important move forward when thinking of the current debate concerning legal highs in the UK and Europe.

The Department has invited students and teachers from local schools to visit the university and researchers will demonstrate how they study drug abuse and will discuss recent studies on the dangers of legal 'highs'

The Department has created a teaching information pack, which includes materials covering addiction; the harms caused by legal 'highs' and information on drugs of abuse for teachers (train-the-trainer approach).

To obtain a pack and for more information, please contact Dr Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, Health Sciences Research Centre Director.

Brain Awareness Week activities at the University are supported by an outreach grant from the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS).

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