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Manchester Science Festival returns in 2024

Play games in the name of science and help discover the key to maintaining healthy brains and bodies. Manchester Science Festival announces its return.

One of the UK's most popular science festivals has announced its return for 2024 with the chance to be a part of history by participating in the world's largest online study into the elusive relationship between the brain and body.  

The biennial Manchester Science Festival, produced by the Science and Industry Museum, returns from Friday 18 – Sunday 27 October 2024. Its programme of events will explore 'Extremes' and offer the opportunity to get hands on with some of science's most cutting-edge developments. Festivalgoers will explore some of the biggest questions facing our planet through multi-sensory experiences, immersive performances and hands-on activities.  

Ahead of this, the festival has collaborated with researchers at Western University, Canada, to launch a pioneering series of online brain games that will support world-renowned neuroscientists to discover more about the links between physical and cognitive health. As well as being fun to take part in, each completed survey will give participants instant results and support them to learn about how their own brain functions, and help neuroscientists identify activities and lifestyle habits that could improve or maintain the functioning of our brains for longer. Anyone who signs up will have a chance to to win Amazon vouchers (equivalent to CA$100). The findings of the experiment will be explored at this year's Manchester Science Festival.

Despite the seemingly obvious examples, like being 'hangry' affecting the ability to concentrate, stress making muscles feel tense, or steady breathing helping to calm the mind, still little is understood about the dialogue between body and brain. Does being physically active also make our brains stronger? Can leisure activities that require mastering precise movements alongside mental challenges, such as video games, e-sports and puzzles, improve our problem-solving abilities? The Brain and Body study aims to answer these questions in an online engaging experiment, where participants will provide invaluable insights by exploring a series of lifestyle-related questions and fun brain games.  

People living longer, an aging population and a recent study suggesting the Covid pandemic has impacted brain power in people aged 50 and over all make long-term cognitive and physical health increasingly important.  Completing the survey will help neuroscientists build a better understanding of how lifestyle factors relate to the health of our brains across our lifetimes and could in future years support individuals to choose activities that promote healthy cognitive ageing.  

It is being spearheaded by celebrated neuroscientist, Professor Adrian Owen of Western University, who said: 

'Manchester Science Festival is one of the most popular events of its kind in the UK and we are really excited by the thought of using this mass experiment to help shape the programme this year and find out new things about how our brains affect our bodies and vice versa.'

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum, said: 

'We can’t wait for Manchester Science Festival’s return this October. It is a brilliant opportunity to bring together visitors of all ages and interest to be inspired by science in action, and a wonderful way to showcase Manchester’s long-standing position as a leader in progress and innovation.  

'We are delighted to be launching the festival with the pioneering Brain and Body study and giving more people the unique opportunity to be part of contemporary developments in science and play a role in furthering scientific knowledge to benefit our collective future.'

Roger Highfield, Science Director at the Science Museum Group, added: 

'I have worked with Adrian before on a mass survey that drilled into what we mean by IQ, so I know we are going to get some fascinating insights into the intimate relationship between body and brain. The survey is also huge fun to do, will earn you entry to a prize draw and support important neuroscientific research – taking part is a no-brainer!'

The survey can be completed online (www.brainbodystudy.com) using a desktop, laptop or tablet, though it is not possible to take part in the survey using a phone. It takes around 75 minutes to complete, includes fun brain games and cognitive challenges, and at the end will share results with the participant. Encourage friends and family to have a go and sign up to the museum’s mailing list to be the first to receive more details about the festival programme as they are announced, or visit www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/manchester-science-festival.  

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact communications manager, Alex Urmston, on 07741 103 790/ alex.urmston@scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk.  

NOTES TO EDITORS    

About the Science and Industry Museum

The Science and Industry Museum tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world.   

The museum's mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.   

The Science and Industry Museum site is on the site of the Liverpool Road Station terminus of the Liverpool Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing railway goods warehouse. In total there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site.  

The museum is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound regeneration project that will see brand new spaces opened and significant improvements made to some of its best-loved galleries.  

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.

About Manchester Science Festival  

Manchester Science Festival immerses visitors in the fascinating world of contemporary innovations and shines a light on future developments that have the potential to change our world. It attracts visitors from across the country, welcoming over 1 million people over the last decade.

in 2024, the theme is 'Extremes'. Manchester Science Festival will offer the people of Greater Manchester and beyond opportunities to take part in live, interactive events and get hands on with some of science's most cutting-edge developments while exploring some of the biggest questions facing humanity.  

Manchester Science Festival is produced by the Science and Industry Museum, part of the Science Museum Group. It shares a vision to inspire audiences through innovation with Bradford Science Festival, which is produced by fellow Science Museum Group site the National Science and Media Museum.