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A Mind full of Memories

Are there events in your life that you'd rather forget? But your mind re-runs them on replay? Would you consider using breaking science research to wipe your memory and start afresh?

Science takes a dramatic twist in a presentation by the Naked Scientists and the London Playback Theatre Company.

‘A mind full of memories’ combines theatre and neuroscience to show—as well as tell—how the mind can heal after trauma.

A new collaboration between Cambridge University scientists/educators The Naked Scientists and the London Playback Theatre Company debuts at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on 22 October. In ‘A mind full of memories’ three academics share the latest research on memory and the therapies being used to re-wire traumatic memories. The London Playback Theatre Company will then use anecdotes volunteered by the audience members to demonstrate its form of therapeutic improvisational theatre.

Mark Evans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Captain in the Coldstream Guards, will describe how Playback Theatre helped him deal with debilitating memories. Diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning from Afghanistan, he left the army. Evans found relative stability after four years of therapy but still struggled to connect emotionally with his experiences. By chance, he learned about Playback, a method in which trained players re-enact participants’ traumatic memories. The process has helped PTSD sufferers gain insight, catharsis and connection. Evans will describe how it can help combat traumatic memories.

Naked Scientist Dr Hannah Critchlow, Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes and Dr Emma Cahill will present breaking new research describing what happens, at the cellular level, when memories are formed in the neuro-circuitry of the brain, how they are linked to your emotions and habits, and how this wiring can be altered. Jamie, a former soldier and now a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist, will describe another new therapy for treating PTSD, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

‘A mind full of memories’ debuts 22 October, 7 - 8.30 pm at the Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge. FREE TO ATTEND

Participants: Jamie Hacker Hughes is a soldier turned marketeer turned psychologist. After service in the Army in Northern Ireland and five years in the city as a sales and marketing consultant, he returned to school to study psychology, earning degrees from UCL, King’s London, Cambridge and Surrey universities. He’s now a clinical psychologist, clinical neuropsychologist, psychotherapist and a consultant in EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Having been exposed to disaster early in life, Jamie developed an interest in trauma and went on to be head of clinical psychology for the MoD. He is now the president elect of the British Psychological Society and Director of the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. He has a clinical practice specialising in the assessment and treatment of trauma.

Emma Cahill is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology, Cambridge University. Her research focuses on drug addiction and memories of fear. Although forming, retaining and retrieving memories is one of the brain’s most critical functions, relatively little is known about cellular and chemical processes that achieve this. Cahill investigates this black box using animal models of post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction.

Hannah Critchlow is a neuroscientist with a background in neuropsychiatry. During her PhD she was awarded a Fellowship at Magdalene College, Cambridge. She currently demystifies neuroscience with the award winning radio and live event show, The Naked Scientists, broadcast on BBC and international channels. In 2013 Hannah was named as one of Cambridge University’s “inspirational and successful women in science” and in 2014 named by the Science Council as one of the UK’s top 100 scientists for her work in science communication.

London Playback Theatre Company
The present London Playback Company was formed in 2007 and works with audiences in the telling and re-playing of their stories. It offers performances and workshops that provide a safe space for individual voices to be heard and collective themes to emerge. Through the spontaneity and vibrancy of improvisational techniques, we create theatre which engages audiences—body, mind and spirit. Our work offers opportunities for participants to deepen their understanding of each other and to develop authentic ways of communicating. We honour the multiplicity of voices in any group or context.


Hosted by the Naked Scientists and featuring survivors from tsunamis, Captains serving in Afghanistan, and traumas that occur closer to home. An event that tells a unique story on how science and theatre can combine to help re-wire memories. The event is part of Cambridge University's Festival of Ideas, 22nd October, 7.00 - 8.00 pm, booking here:

http://www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk/events/mind-full-memories

Posted on 14/10/2014

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