Pint of Science is one of our favourite events - and is held right on our doorsteps in both Manchester and London. Pint of Science is a science festival that takes place every May over three days and brings researchers to local pubs to present their scientific discoveries. This year, we were extremely proud to sponsor Pint of Science events throughout Manchester and London, sending some of our team members along to learn about key trends happening in the world of scientific research. In this blog, Sarah Maguire, Junior Medical Writer, shares her experience of the event 'Phobias, Pain and the Brain'.

It would be reasonable to think that science and alcohol don’t go particularly well together.

But one science festival brings biology and beers, passion and pints, and chemistry and cocktails together for three nights all in the name of science.

Pint of Science is a global science festival that brings researchers into pubs to communicate their latest work to avid scientists and complete beginners alike. The festival takes place over three evenings across six themes including ‘Tech me Out’ and ‘Our Body’, and boasts 21 participating countries worldwide.

Havas Lynx were extremely proud to sponsor many of the Manchester events this year. Kicking off the first night of the festival was “Phobias, Pain and the Brain”, which saw three researchers in the field share their work.

First up was Dr Warren Mansell, a clinical psychologist interested in fear and how we might deal with it. Dr Mansell spoke about existing clinical methods used to combat fear including exposure therapy. He then presented findings from his own research based on Perceptual Control Theory, which predicts that it is vital to have control over ones experiences because it is pivotal for life and wellbeing. In his study, individuals with phobias were exposed to a visual of something they feared (say, a spider) but could dictate how near the stimulus got. These individuals actually moved nearer to the stimulus and reported lower avoidance rates in the following weeks. Dr Mansell’s work could therefore shape future approaches toward facing fears, suggesting that controlling phobias is central to defeating them.

Next, Dr Hannah Twiddy and Selina Johnson from The Walton Centre (Liverpool) took the mic to talk about the science of pain. They highlighted how pain can affect us, and how we adapt our behaviours to accommodate it. Take for instance, trying to walk with an egg balanced on your head. Your pace is slower and more cautious than on an egg-free stroll. We exhibit similar behaviours towards persistent pain, constantly afraid of making it worse, which over time can actually be detrimental. Using their experience of pain management programmes, the speakers highlighted the importance of a holistic approach to pain, not just addressing the physical sensation, but also the psychological behaviours of someone with persistent pain.

As global leaders in healthcare communications, it is important that we remain inspired by scientific and medical advances that surround us. Next time you are feeling out of the loop or uninspired; take yourself to a science engagement event. Ideally one with beer or cider!

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