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Blog: Brain health is back at the Edinburgh Fringe - go along or enjoy from home!

Published on 13 August 2021 12:10 PM

Over the past few weeks, many people have taken their first steps back to activities like going to the cinema or visiting a gallery, or looking further ahead by booking theatre tickets for later in the year.

As part of the return of these kinds of activities, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is back this August (albeit a bit smaller than usual), and there are opportunities to explore brain health. For those not quite ready to get along to a dark, and often very warm, venue, there are also options to watch online from wherever you are.

As we age, we are more likely to experience general declines in our thinking and memory skills, often referred to as our mental or cognitive abilities. Some people experience noticeable changes in their thinking and memory skills across their 60s and beyond, while others maintain these into old age. This variation suggests that a number of factors influence our brain health.

So, what can you expect in terms of brain health shows at the Fringe in 2021?

Professor Alan Gow and his team in The Ageing Lab at Heriot-Watt University explore the factors that might protect thinking skills, and Alan will be involved in two different events this August. In the different events you’ll hear about some of their own and others works focussing on the kinds of things we might do more of, or less of, to protect our brains as we age.

As part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Curious programme, Alan will be on a discussion panel focussed on Brain Health. The panel will be chaired by Professor Richard Morris and also includes Professor Tara Spires-Jones, Professor Stella Chan and Dr Monica Muñoz.

The event is free and fully online, so you can relax in the comfort of your own home and hear about the latest research on mental health, how to keep sharp with age, and the potential effects of long Covid on the brain. And for those who want to get involved there will be opportunities to put your questions to the panellists using an interactive chat function.

The Brain Health panel will be on 17 August at 1.00pm. You can read more about the event here, and then register here.

Later the same week, Alan will be appearing as part of a Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas double bill exploring “marginal brain gains”, the idea that there might be dozens of factors that are good for keeping us sharp as we get older.

While the show is based on the latest research, this isn’t a traditional lecture. The show is part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas programme which has a simple rule – no slides! Comedian Susan Morrison returns to compere the programme, ensuring the academics keep on track and that the audience get a chance to have their say too.

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas programme runs throughout August, and you can get a flavour of what topics are covered in the trailer.

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas shows are live in The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh, with a restricted number of tickets available. However, the shows will be simultaneously broadcast live online! And if either of those options aren’t right for you, a few days later the recordings should be available on demand, so hopefully all preferences are covered. You can buy tickets for Alan’s show on 22 August (2.30pm) at The Stand here or register for the online broadcast here.

To get a flavour of what to expect, one of Alan’s previous Fringe shows was recorded as part of BBC Radio Scotland’s Brainwaves series.

Book your tickets today!

  • RSE Curious: Brain Health - The RSE Curious programme runs throughout August, with different topics to explore daily, most of which are free and online. The Brain Health panel is on 17 August (1.00pm), online.
  • Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas: Marginal gains and a hacked toothbrush - in person tickets or online. “Marginal brain gains” is part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2021: Debate, discussion and discourse at the Edinburgh Fringe. Catch the show at The Stand Comedy Club on York Place, Edinburgh, on 22 August (2.30pm), or watch online or on demand.

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