‘Magical’ Silver Santé workshop attracts great interest at high-profile international science forum

Scientists, policy-makers and science journalists from all over the world took part in a workshop hosted by the Silver Santé Study at the prestigious EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) in Toulouse, France, on 12 July 2018.

More than 60 people attended the 75-minute session and participated in some of the brain training techniques, such as meditation and health education training, being trialled as part of the Study’s investigations into mental health and well-being in the ageing population.

The popular session, called ‘The Magic of Memory: Can brain training techniques help boost memory and improve mental health in later life?’, included a scientific presentation about the project as well as an entertaining magic show which demonstrated how memory can be affected by distraction.

Leading the ESOF session from the Silver Santé Study were Project Coordinator, Dr Gaël Chételat, and Dr Géraldine Poisnel, both of Inserm, who gave scientific presentations about the Silver Santé Study; Rhonda Smith, of Minerva Communications UK, who led a health education activity in which participants examined lifestyle factors which may affect mental health and well-being; Elizabeth Parsons, of UCL, who led a memory quiz in which people were challenged to remember a group of objects; and Marc Heidmann, of the Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, who led a meditation session for all participants.

Dr Poisnel said: “We were delighted to be chosen to host a session here at ESOF and we hope the many people who took part in today’s event found it both informative and enjoyable.

“Our study is trialling various mental training techniques in order to test their effectiveness in improving mental health and well-being in later life. If we can find techniques that empower people to improve their own mental health, this may in turn reduce the cost/care burden on public health services of age-associated diseases and help overcome health inequalities.

“The Silver Santé Study  is unique in several ways – it is the first to take into account the emotional dimension of ageing, it uses a complete and unique set of measurements to assess volunteers – including neuroimaging scans – and it also has the longest ever meditation and language-learning interventions.”

By carrying out clinical trials on volunteers aged 60+ presenting with varying health profiles, including patients at memory clinics, the research is measuring the effectiveness of a range of interventions. The five-year study, launched in 2016, involves research partners in France, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.

ESOF 2018 (www.esof.eu ), which took place 9-14 July in Toulouse, is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary science meeting.

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