Meet the Mind Reading organiser Laura Fogg

Laura will run the control room for our Mind Reading experiment!

Laura is the Communications and Liaison Manager for the Centre for Brain Research. She is a literate science geek (unusual?!) and loves letting people in to the secrets of brain science. Her career has been focused around science communication and organizing exciting public science events. Mind Reading will be a first for New Zealand and Laura is very excited about this!

Laura trained as a science journalist at City University in the UK, and then worked as a journalist for the BBC and other stations for six years. Reporting in local news gave her a good grounding in different audiences, covering everything from murders and crime, to a dog in a bridesmaid’s dress! She then worked in production for BBC Countryfile, a rural current affairs programme that took her all over the UK.

Laura has a First Class Honours degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Manchester and is currently undertaking an MSc in Speech Science. She moved to New Zealand three years ago, and has maintained her interest in science communication with links to the Science Communicators Association of New Zealand and the Association of British Science Writers. She is also a freelance magazine writer, and writes and edits the Auckland Huntington’s disease newsletter as well as the CBR Connections magazine.

Always keen to introduce new audiences to the wonders of the brain, Laura is hoping this event will leave us all with a sense of awe for the powers of the brain. As a keen science fiction fan, she’s very interested to find out if our scientists really can tell the difference between a lie and a memory… a brave new world?!

CBR scientist awarded Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Posted by Laura Fogg

A Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, supporting New Zealand’s most talented young researchers, has been awarded to Dr Donna Rose Addis from the Centre for Brain Research.

The inaugural fellowships, providing ten early-to-mid career researchers with up to $200,000 annually for the next five years, were announced at the national Research Honours Dinner in Christchurch on November 10th. Dr Addis is a cognitive neuroscientist from the Department of Psychology and Centre for Brain Research whose fellowship will support her research into the constructive nature of memory.

“Our memories seem to play out like movies but they’re actually stored as fragments in different areas of the brain, and when we remember we have to put all the pieces back together again,” she explains. “Storing memories in this way also allows the fragments to be used when we imagine future events.”

“One part of the brain – the hippocampus – is critical in reconstructing memories and constructing future events. My research will use neuroimaging to learn more about the role that the hippocampus plays. I will also look specifically at how depression may impair the ability of the hippocampus to construct memories and imagine.”

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships were launched this year and are expected to have significant value to the future career of the recipient. The five years of funding is extremely valuable for young scientists as it will allow them to concentrate on their research, grow their laboratories, and meet research costs. “Having a secure period of funding gives you the time to step back and look at the bigger picture. It gives you the freedom to be creative and try new things, and quite often that is when interesting breakthroughs occur,” says Dr Addis.