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The Palix Foundation has pledged £265,250 to support a cross-disciplinary project aimed at sharing scientific knowledge about early brain development and its effect on mental health and addiction. The project will be delivered by the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Experimental Psychology, and will unite Oxford and the foundation's shared vision of improving outcomes for children, their families and future generations.

Image shows a cartoon of a group of people, some with hard hats, all observing a large picture of the human brain with different areas highlighted as squares. © THE BRAIN STORY © PALIX FOUNDATION / ALBERTA FAMILY WELLNESS INITIATIVE

Lifelong health is determined by more than just our genes: experiences early in life and at other sensitive periods of development can affect our brains in ways that may impact our health as we grow older. This knowledge has important implications for both policy and practice, but despite its significance, the science behind early brain development is not widely disseminated. Front-line staff may be unfamiliar with recent advances in the field, while parents have little exposure to the science underlying the growth of their children's brains.

The Palix Foundation seeks to bridge this gap. In 2010 the foundation began disseminating the Brain Story, a narrative framework that makes scientific knowledge about early brain development accessible to policy-makers, practitioners and the public. Developed by the FrameWorks Institute and the National Scientific Council of the Developing Child, the Brain Story is shared via tools, resources and a certification course, with the aim of building resilience in families and communities around the world.

With the foundation's support, a team of researchers at Oxford will now work to embed the Brain Story locally and beyond. Under the leadership of Alan Stein, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University, the team will develop a programme to explore and evaluate different ways of implementing the Brain Story, thus maximising its reach and impact.

Read more (University of Oxford Development Office)

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