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The Beautiful Mind

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23 May 2023




21:00 (more or less) 

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Goudsbloemstraat 50, Leuven






Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a male and a female brain and how they respond to threats? Or did you question how our brain handles its own waste? Or have you ever felt pain but were suddenly distracted and you didn't feel the pain anymore? Then join us in this evening of science where you will learn about these three intriguing topics!

Why does sex matter?

Alba Lopez-Moraga

PhD Student

KU Leuven

For decades, scientists have been investigating the brain using only male animals, excluding female animals. Even when studying diseases that affect more women than men, such as anxiety disorders. But are we that different? Does that have any implication for our everyday life? In this talk I will show you how male and female rats face threats differently and I will try to convince you that considering sex and gender in experiments is key for science.

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How do neurons take their garbage out and what happens when they don’t?

Marianna Decet

PhD student, Lab of Neuronal Communication

VIB Center for Brain and Disease Research, KU Leuven

Neurons are the cells that constitute our brain. They communicate with each other like we do among ourselves and like us, they produce ‘garbage’ that need proper disposal. How do neurons take their garbage out? One of the mechanisms used for this purpose is called ‘autophagy’. Autophagy helps neurons to stay healthy during a lifetime by recycling the waste that they produce. However, when this mechanism does not work properly it leads to neuronal dysfunction. When a neuron does not function as it should, its communication with other neurons is impaired,causing network defects. Long term, when the system cannot cope anymore with those defects.

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The analgesic power of distraction

Elke Meyers

PhD researcher

KU Leuven, Faculty Psychology and Educational Sciences, Health Psychology research group

Imagine that you are in a boring meeting, listening to a never-ending, pointless discussion that could have been an e-mail. Suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your back. When your boss asks your opinion you have no idea what he was talking about. The pain captured your attention and interrupted your ongoing task. Now imagine that you are taking a very important exam. Only after completing the exam, you notice how much your back is hurting. This illustrate that we can shield our attention from being captured by acute pain. But can we also fool our perception when it comes to chronic pain?

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