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The Cheltenham Science Festival was first held in 2002, and has quickly grown to become one of the most significant of its kind in the UK. The 2017 festival ran from 6-11 June among the presenters were three Oxford Neuroscientists.

Irene Tracey discussed the mysteries of pain and how brain imaging is helping us understand it. Pain exists to protect us from harm, but our individual experiences can depend on mood, attitude and even cultural upbringing. And when pain becomes chronic, as it does for about 20% of adults, it causes serious suffering. 

Neuroplasticity suggests our brains have the ability to adapt and change, but is it possible to improve the way they work? By-passing a billion-dollar brain training industry which doesn’t seem to work, science journalist Caroline Williams joined neuroscientists Heidi Johansen-Berg, Martijn van den Heuvel and Ben Martynoga to explore the possibility of changing our brains for the better, with tips and tricks to try for yourself. 

The best thing about these types of events is the range of questions you get from the audience. It gives you a great insight into what regular people think about the science we do – and helps to keep you on your toes!
- Heidi Johansen-Berg

Dementia affects thousands of people in the UK every year with devastating consequences. Broadcaster, journalist and campaigner Fiona Phillips was joined by a patient, their caregiver and memory research scientist Chris Butler to explore the reality of living with dementia. The patient on the panel has Posterior Cortical Atrophy - a rare variant of Alzheimer's disease which is the focus of an important new study run by Chris's Memory Research Group.  

The size of the audience reflected the huge interest which this subject generates. And it was an excellent opportunity to promote participation in dementia research. 
- Chris Butler