Neuroscience and Family Life: The brain in policy and everyday practice

This 2-year project focuses on how the neurosciences are used in policies, services, and in family life. Debates around early years are a good example of how neuroscientific ideas are being used in proposing and legitimating policies focused on how parents raise their children. In the project, we will do a mapping exercise of policies and of the media, especially with regard to young children, adolescents and older adults.

Policies and the media can interrelate with how families talk about themselves and how they see themselves, for example in how parents may stress the importance of the first years on the developing brain. Alternatively, families may ‘resist’ these ways of using the neurosciences. A second part of the project is therefore to explore how family members use or don’t use the neurosciences for how they define themselves and one another, and what the consequences of this are. Through doing family group interviews, we might come across generational differences in valuing and using the neurosciences.

Click here for the project website

Funding details: Leverhulme Trust

Research team: Martyn Pickersgill (Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Population and Health Sciences and project Principal Investigator), Sarah Cunningham-Burley (Co-Director of CRFR and Head of the School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences), Ian Deary (Director of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology), and Tineke Broer (Research Fellow at CRFR)

Dates: 2013-2015

Contact: Tineke Broer or Martyn Pickersgill


Read the report on the ‘Neuroscience and family life’ policy/public engagement event held at The University of Edinburgh – 2 September 2015

Read the briefing ‘Neuroscience, Policy and Family Life’


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