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Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Issue 59

'Mapping madness' with PET and MRI

The inner workings of the mind and how it can be imaged was the subject of Cafe Scientifique – a new community event giving both scientists and those with an interest in the subject the chance to talk with Kingston University experts.

Dr Mark Preece, from the University's School of Life Sciences, explained how advances in brain imaging have contributed to a better understanding of mental illness. His talk, entitled 'Mapping Madness' was held on 27 November at Woody's Bar and Kitchen, Kingston.

"Previously we had to rely on post mortems to see inside the brain. The big benefit of neuro-imaging is that we can see what's going on in a living person," explained Dr Preece.

Using the technique to help treat people with mental health problems such as schizophrenia or depression is Dr Preece's specialist interest. "Brain imaging allows us to see which areas might be dysfunctional and can help us assess whether particular treatments such as talking therapies or drug regimes are useful to a patient," he explained.

Dr Preece outlined PET and MRI imaging techniques to scientists and interested members of the public. "We hope events such as Cafe Scientifique will help dispel the notion of scientists as eccentric individuals working to their own agenda. We want to open up science and draw people in by talking in a relaxed environment away from lecture theatres and libraries."   

Cafe Scientifique first launched in Leeds in 1998 and has since spread to more than 40 towns and cities across the UK. It also runs in scores of others around the globe. The idea is based on Cafe Philosophique, which philosopher Marc Sautet launched in France in 1992.

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