11:01am Tuesday 22 October 2019

The Developing Brain – from Womb to Tomb

Brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganise neural pathways – will be discussed at a major symposium this week (Friday 24 September).

The Developing Brain – from Womb to Tomb, hosted by Brain Sciences UNSW, brings together Australasia’s leading experts to discuss the latest findings on brain development, including the role of genes, behaviour and the environment.

It was once believed that as we aged, the brain’s neural networks became fixed. NSW Scientist of the Year award winner and UNSW Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev, will outline emerging research on the plasticity of the ageing brain and interventions to prevent the onset of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Investigations are revealing that life experiences have a major impact on the adult brain. Dr Timothy Bredy, from the University of Queensland, will present findings that environmental factors, once considered important only during early development, are active across the lifespan, helping to switch genes off and on. The findings represent a major shift in thinking in genomics, with implications for the establishment of fear-related memory and psychiatric disease.

Other symposium presentations include:


  • Childhood self-control as predictor of adult health, prosperity and public safetyProfessor Richie Poulton, University of Otago. The Dunedin longitudinal study suggests that a child’s capacity for self-control can predict their adult physical health, substance abuse, personal finances and criminal profile.
  • Leptin and its lifetime impact on the brainProfessor Julio Licinio, ANU. White fat product Leptin has effects from childhood to old age that go beyond the regulation of food intake and body weight. Leptin influences a child’s neuropsychological performance, and affects the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in adults.
  • A life cycle approach to Aboriginal health and ageing – UNSW Professor Tony Broe, NeuRA. Tackling systemic Aboriginal health problems in adults requires addressing early life stressors that impact on brain development, such as maternal separation, childhood trauma and exposure to the criminal justice system.
What: Brain Sciences Symposium: The Developing Brain – from Womb to Tomb.
When: Friday, 24 September 2010
Where: Leighton Hall, The John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW

*For the full program go to the website

Media contact: Steve Offner, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 8107 or 0424 580 208

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