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The Ageing Lab

Exploring interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of older people

News archive 2021

Christmas Newsletter

For a roundup of our work over the past year, here's our Christmas Newsletter for 2021! From all the team, a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.


December 2021

Brain health is back at the Edinburgh Fringe - go along or enjoy from home!

Over the past few weeks, many people have taken their first steps back to activities like going to the cinema or visiting a gallery, or looking further ahead by booking theatre tickets for later in the year.

As part of the return of these kinds of activities, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is back this August (albeit a bit smaller than usual), and there are opportunities to explore brain health. For those not quite ready to get along to a dark, and often very warm, venue, there are also options to watch online from wherever you are.


August 2021

Psychology students continue to go beyond the headlines

For the third year, the work of some of our recent Psychology graduates has been showcased by Research the Headlines, a blog that “addresses the way in which research is discussed and portrayed in the media”. Professor Alan Gow from the Department of Psychology tells us why he uses that approach as one of his assessments.

“We often think about research-informed teaching, in which our own and others work might shape how we approach key topics and issues in our courses. There are different ways research-informed teaching can help students engage with a topic, especially in highlighting current trends or new questions being tackled. As well as research informing my teaching, there’s something I might call “engagement-informed” practice that I’ve been using in the 4th Year course, Psychology of Ageing.

“In any course, we want to ensure that our students not only get a firm grasp of their topic but that they develop a range of skills that might be relevant after they graduate. So, one of the pieces of coursework is designed to help develop their abilities in communicating their specialised knowledge. The task is to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of that. This month, Research the Headlines again showcased some of that work.”

Research the Headlines is a blog from members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) which discusses research and the media to help the public understanding of research and the process that takes this from “lab to headline”. Many of the Research the Headlines contributors use the ideas in their teaching. In the Psychology of Ageing coursework, a key aim of the “brain blogs” is to explain the important concepts and take-home messages, and to highlight issues in interpretation either in the media report or the underlying research.

The Research the Headlines “brain blog” showcase included the work of two students, both recent graduates in Psychology at Heriot-Watt:
- Can Certain Foods Really Improve Our Brain Function as we Age? by Izzy Aitken (
- Occupational experiences may be associated with poorer memory and smaller memory structures within the brain, by Hayley Syme (

July 2021

Marginal Brain Gains at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

Next month, Professor Alan Gow will be returning to the Fringe as part of Edinburgh Beltane's Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. Marginal Brain Gains, part of Marginal Gains & a Hacked Toothbrush, is on August 22nd (2.30pm) live from the Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh, with options to attend in person or watch online. A short trailer and brief show description are below, and you can follow updates on the show's development via Twitter using the hashtag #MarginalBrainGains. Tickets are available from (in person or online options).

Marginal Gains & A Hacked Toothbrush: Two top academics, two dangerous ideas and your host comedian Susan Morrison. Professor Alan Gow (Heriot-Watt University) is looking for the simple things that could help us stay sharp as we age. And Garry Scobie (The University of Edinburgh) reveals how and why criminals are targeting you, your home, even your toothbrush – and how to fight back!

July 2021

Edinburgh Business School launch Diversity and Inclusion Masterclass

Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University have launched an Executive Education course on Diversity and Inclusion, saying "There is a requirement in today’s market for increased awareness amongst teams and organisations of the issues around gender, age, disability, and health at work. The aim of this course is to provide detailed support on how to accommodate differences and sensitivities in the workplace, and how to make reasonable and responsible adjustments going forward.

This masterclass comprises three one-hour online as-live workshops via Teams/Zoom/Adobe Connect focusing on:
    - Gender, ethnicity, and women’s health.
    - Disability in the workplace.
    - Age in the workplace."

Professor Alan Gow hosts the “Ageing at work” session, with workshops on disability, health and gender led by Professor Kate Sang and Professor Heather McGregor. 
You can watch a taster of the "Ageing at work" session here

Find out more about the Diversity and Inclusivity Masterclass here

January 2021

You can read our recent updates in the News section.