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Adaptive Brain Lab


This June the Adaptive Brain Lab was delighted to talk about neuroscience with the general public at Cambridge’s first ever BRAINFest.

Prof. Zoe Kourtzi gave a fascinating talk called What next? Learning to predict the future from the past and took a variety of tricky questions from the audience including: ‘Is it true that we only use 10% of our brains?’ and ‘If our brains learn what to expect based on experience, how can an individual overcome repeated negative experiences such as being told you are worthless?’

Meanwhile, the rest of the lab (including the lab dinosaur, everybody’s favourite optical illusion) was hard at work using their interactive exhibit to show other members of the public how scientists use small electric currents and large magnets to study the brain in the lab. They used visual illusions like the lab dragon, and an alien language game (pictured above) to talk about their own research interests, opening up topics like ‘Does learning rewire your brain?’ and ‘How do we see in 3D?’.

‘It’s great that this event has brought together people from all across Cambridge (and beyond) to talk about what I think is the body’s most exciting and mystical organ,’ says Prof. Zoe Kourtzi, the leader of the Adaptive Brain Lab who has been researching in Neuroscience for over 20 years. ‘One thing we can all agree on is that every brain is different – that’s why it’s great to have so many brains (and people) here! We can’t wait to take part again next year.’

Zoe and her team study the brain’s ability to learn and change across the lifespan. Their findings prompt a number of interesting questions. Can we teach older people new strategies for learning that optimise their brain’s capacity? Can we apply what we know about learning strategies to educational settings? How can we help stroke rehab patients recover lost brain function?


The Adaptive Brain Lab is now preparing for the upcoming Festival of Ideas in October – to find out the answers to some of these questions, or to ask your own, come and visit us!

Latest news

New paper in Nature Human Behaviour!

15 January 2019

A new publication by Dr. Vasilis Karlaftis, Joseph Giorgio, Dr. Andrew Welchman and Professor Zoe Kourtzi combines behavioural modelling with functional and structural brain connectivity and shows that individuals learn the structure of variable environments by employing alternate decision strategies that engage distinct brain networks:

New paper in e-Neuro!

9 January 2019

A new publication by Dr. Vasilis Karlaftis, Dr. Andrew Welchman and Professor Zoe Kourtzi answers how we extract meaningful structure and make predictions in novel environments.

New papers in eLife and Nature Communications reveal the role of GABAergic inhibition in visual perceptual learning

9 January 2019

We are delighted to announce two new publications from our lab on the role of GABAergic inhibition in visual perceptual learning. We have used multi-modal human brain imaging (MR Spectroscopy, task fMRI, resting state fMRI) to investigate changes in the concentration of the neurotransmitter GABA during training across decision-making circuits.