The Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre specialises in assessing the effects of foods, food components and functional ingredients on psychological functioning across the lifespan – from childhood to old age. We do this using our own customisable computerised cognitive and mood assessment systems and a range of specialised methods.
Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) is a state-of-the art non-invasive technique that monitors the local tissue oxygenation of the brain enabling us to investigate the effects of nutritional interventions on cerebral blood flow parameters.
Trans-Cranial Doppler (TCD) sonography. An innovative non-invasive method of measuring cerebral blood flow velocity from the basal intra-cerebral vessels through the intact skull
Plants evolved to interact with the brains of insects, their closest neighbours, in order to survive, by attracting them for pollination, or repelling them or dissuading them from eating plant tissue. Therefore, plant chemicals that have evolved to target the brains of insects then have the same effects on the human brain.
Humans have a long and close relationship with plant-derived chemicals that alter brain function. Most of us reach for a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, many smoke tobacco; a few consume heavyweight drugs such as cocaine, morphine or cannabis.
If you give the chemicals we think of as social drugs to insects, the change in behaviour is often strikingly similar to that seen in humans. For instance, caffeine and amphetamine make insects more active and less sleepy, LSD makes them confused, cocaine makes bees dance, and morphine kills insect pain. And all of these chemicals also stop insects from eating plant tissue and prove fatal to them at higher doses.
Professor David Kennedy, Director of the Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre