Can New Activities Help an Ageing Brain?

Heriot-Watt University front entrance

Can taking up a new activity help our thinking skills as we age?

That’s a key question for researchers interested in cognitive ageing, the field that explores how thinking skills change over the life course, and what factors might be associated with those changes.

The Ageing Lab at Heriot-Watt University’s Department of Psychology have made it their mission to find out how new activities could affect our thinking skills as we age.

As we age, we are more likely to experience changes in our thinking and memory skills (these are referred to as our mental or cognitive abilities). Some people experience declines in their thinking and memory skills across their 60s and beyond, while others maintain their abilities into old age. This variation suggests that a number of factors influence the likelihood of mental decline. Keeping engaged in intellectual, social or physical activities have all been proposed as potentially beneficial.

In our major study in The Ageing Lab, we are asking people take up new and challenging activities to see how those might have benefits for their thinking skills, as well as their health and wellbeing more broadly. We’re on target to have over 300 people in that study, and the results will be reported later this year. But there’s still time for people to take part. To find out what that might involve, here are what some of our current participants think about their experiences.

Picture by Lesley Martin
7 June 2018
© Lesley Martin 2018

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Why Edinburgh sparkles in the darker months…

Edinburgh is an incredible city to study in.

Don’t just take our word for it; it regularly tops the polls for best place to live, work and study in Europe.
This week it reached the top spot of the Arcadis poll – read the full article here

This city knows how to put on a good show, we are constantly struck by the way both residents and visitors alike embrace a party, and this year’s holiday celebrations wont let us down. There’s so much to see and do, so if you are sticking around our campus this year, please get out into the city and take in some of the many fun filled events going on.

Here are some of our highlights:

The Edinburgh Torchlight Procession
Join in with the thousands of people that take to the streets on the 30th December to say goodbye to 2018; There will be Bagpipers, Drummers and its all to celebrate the end of the Year of Young People here in Scotland. The money raised goes goes to One City Trust, fighting inequality and exclusion in the City of Edinburgh. Buy your tickets here

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Torchlight Procession at Holyrood Park watch the fireworks display beyond an illuminated Palace of Holyrood House.

The Loony Dook
Its the first day of the year and one of our newer traditions here in Edinburgh is to start the year with a refreshing dip in the North sea..! Well why not, they started this in the 1980s and it seems to have stuck You can ‘dook’ in the safety of numbers both in South Queensferry under the Forth Rail Bridge or at Edinburgh’s beach resort Portabello – Portie to the locals. Or those of you less partial to freezing cold waters can just grab a hot chocolate and watch the rest of the fancy dressed brigade do it instead.

The Loony Dook on New Year’s Day in South Queensferry

The Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Ceilidh
Well who doesn’t love a Ceilidh right? We love them here at SoSS and have our own Postgraduate one in January to celebrate Burns Night, so if you want to practice your moves then go along and join this one in the street to see in the new year. This will be big and bold and has some of Scotlands leading Ceilidh bands at it too – Jimi Shandrix Experience, Hugh MacDiarmid’s Haircut, and Ceilidhdonia.

So that’s our faves from this years festive fun. We wish you all a very happy holiday, best wishes for the 2019. We put together a little festive message for you all to enjoy!
Heriot-Watt SoSS wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

SoSS Graduations 2018 – Celebrating Success Day 2

It was a great privilege to be involved in the SoSS graduations last week; to see our students looking so smart, with proud families by their side. All of our graduates have done so well, and we enjoyed hearing their stories of what they’re going to go on to do next (with the hope that we see quite a few back for post-grad studies!)

Yesterday we profiled two of our Accountancy, Economics and Finance prize-winning graduates, and today it’s the turn of Ammara Imtiaz, a Psychology graduate, and Yadah Maposa, who graduated in Business Law last week.

Ammara Imtiaz

Ammara Imtiaz, SoSS Graduate, who won the British Psychological Society prize this year!

Ammara graduated last week with a BSc Psychology with Human Health with Honours of the First Class – well done, Ammara! She also received the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award, which is given by the BPS to the student with the highest overall average. She spoke to our Marketing Officer, Daniel, about her time and studies at Heriot-Watt, and her surprise at receiving the award!


Yadah Maposa

Yadah Maposa, who graduated last week with a Master of Arts in International Business Management with Business Law with Honours of the First Class

We love hearing about the different ways in which SoSS students intend to go out there and change the world. And in this, Yadah Maposa definitely fits the bill. Yadah graduated last week with a first class MA in International Business Management with Business Law. She also won the Lord Penrose prize, which is awarded to the student with the highest mark in a Business Law programme. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to get Yadah’s video up here, but this is what she told us:

“My name’s Yadah Maposa and I studied International Business Management with Business Law and I’m also this year’s prizewinner for the Lord Penrose Prize, which I’m so honoured to have received. After university, I plan to start an NGO in Africa. I’m from Zimbabwe, so I really want to help children in that area who have not had as many opportunities as I have had. I believe that this university and my degree have fully equipped me to take on that mission.”

The Heriot-Watt and Norway Connection: Deeper than the North Sea

This is Petter, a Norwegian student in his 4th year of MA Business and Finance at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Social Sciences.

We spoke to Petter to find out what it’s like to be a Norwegian student in Scotland and he told us why he chose to do his Business and Finance degree in Edinburgh and why he thinks it’s easy to feel at home here.

Read on to learn more about Petter’s plans for the future and discover which Norwegian VIP has links to Heriot-Watt University.

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