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All in the mind - New exhibition to uncover secrets of the brain

University experts will help develop the exhibition on the brain at Life

One of the largest biomedical research charities in the world, the Wellcome Trust, has pledged £650k towards a new exhibition exploring the brain at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre. The exhibition will open in 2016 and will tell the story of the brain and how it works, revealing some of its secrets and exploring the techniques scientists use to study it.

Linda Conlon, Chief Executive at Life, said: “The human brain is a highly complex and fascinating structure; understanding it better is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century. This exhibition will help visitors explore its inner workings, discover how it’s wired, how it learns and how it thinks.”

Funding for the exhibition was secured through a Capital Award from the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation which aims to improve health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement. It is one of the UK's leading funders of public engagement with science activities.

Tom Ziessen, senior national programmes adviser at the Wellcome Trust, said: “Our brains are central to who we are, and how we interact with each other as well as with the world around us. However, it is still one of the most mysterious organs in our bodies. This exciting exhibition will provide a window into the ways in which we are trying to understand how it all works.”

Exploring everything from how messages are relayed in the brain to the role of sleep and disease, the exhibition will offer different zones designed to develop visitors’ understanding of our senses, consciousness, perception, emotions, and behaviour and how we learn.

Life is working with experts from across the world to develop the exhibition. Linda Conlon added: “Many international science centres have the brain on their list of hot topics and it’s not surprising. It is endlessly fascinating and there is so much that we do not know.”

Recent initiatives such as Europe’s Human Brain Project (www.humanbrainproject.eu) and the U.S. Human Connectome Project (www.humanconnectomeproject.org) have put the subject firmly in the spotlight. It is anticipated that more exhibitions on the brain will open in the decade ahead.

In addition Life has teamed up with specialists from Northumbria, Durham and Newcastle Universities who will advise on content for the exhibition. There will also be a section within the exhibition for researchers to work with visitors to carry out research and talk about their latest work.

Greta Defeyter, Professor of Psychology and Director of ‘Healthy Living’, at Northumbria University, said: “The brain is our most fascinating and essential organ, responsible for every motion, every reaction and every thought.”

Anya Hurlbert, Professor of Visual Neuroscience and Director of the Centre for Translational Systems Neuroscience at Newcastle University, said: “We’re only just beginning to understand the complex workings of the human brain. This exhibition will be a valuable educational resource for people of all ages, helping them not only to understand how our brain works but also to have a clearer, more informed understanding of brain-related illnesses and developments in neuroscience research and medicine.”

Rob Barton, Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University, said: “This is an exciting time in the development of brain science, with new insights into how brains are organised and how they work coming from a battery of increasingly sophisticated kit for probing neural structure and function.

“The amazing images created by researchers using the new technologies also provide a great opportunity for this exhibition to showcase the discoveries being made in neuroscience.”


  • Life Science Centre
  • Newcastle
  • brain
  • wellcome trust


International Centre for Life

Science in the 21st century is proving to be fast moving, potentially life-enhancing and certainly controversial. Life has grown out of a desire to deliver a science centre for the North East that is forward looking and seeks to offer these leading edge ideas in a form that is easily accessible to everyone.