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ACE2456 Brain Health (on campus only)

Started 7 Feb 2024

Sorry! The enrolment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description

Course Overview:

The human brain is the most amazing, mysterious and complicated organ. Keeping it healthy is critical to our sense of well-being, especially as we age. It is like a muscle and when it is used, we feel a sense of balance, control and harmony. 

Not long ago it was thought that the brain grew in childhood and once it reached maturity remained more or less stable before deteriorating somewhat with age. We now know that this view of the ‘static’ brain is out of date. The brain is a superb instrument and its greatest delight is to work properly. The old saying ‘use it or lose it’ certainly applies.

In recent years brain scientists have drawn our attention to some remarkable discoveries on how the brain has the capacity to change. It is a plastic, living organ that can actually change its own structure and function, even into old age. Every time we have a new experience or learn a new skill our brain changes to adapt to the new situation but, more importantly we are able to change our brain throughout life. In this way we can say that our brain is “plastic” –this ability to bend, remould and reshape our brain.

In this innovative course we will explore (and discuss) how the brain is affected by virtually every aspect of our lives, including our moods, our physical and social activities, how well we sleep, and the food we eat. The course also examines the latest theories about the brain (post Covid-19) including, neuroplasticity, cognitive reserve, neurogenesis and the causes and symptoms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.


Course Practicalities: 

Classes will be delivered on-campus on Wednesdays 7-9pm for six weeks from

7th of February to 13th March 2024.

Location- Western Gateway Building, Room G18, UCC. 


Closing date for applications: Monday 29th of January 2024.



Course Content:

(1)  Meet your brain -- How did the human brain evolve….? What are the different parts of the brain and what do they do….? Why do neurons trigger connections between our thoughts, emotions and memories….? Where do our memories go….? What is the mind, consciousness and the brain….? How come every brain is wired differently….?

(2) The brain explained -- The discovery of brain plasticity….. What is going on in the brain during Childhood years…,?  Teenage years…,?  Adult years and in old age….? How do we store and retrieve information….? What is our short-term memory….? Our long-term memory….? How do we adapt to our environment…. and forget so easily….? Do I have a working brain….? 

(3)  The power of brain habits – Why do habits exist….? How is a habit born….? How do habits work in our brains….? More importantly, how do habits change….? What is the ‘habit loop’….? Habit routines and rewards….? The ‘groove’ theory of habits….? Habits are often as much a burden as a benefit. What is the role of habits in the way our brains learn….?  The link between habits and dopamine (the happy hormone).

(4)  The brain always wins – Why lifestyle choices and brain health matter…? Why is exercise considered a miracle cure for the brain…? What is neurogenesis….? Is it possible to change your brain to enhance your life…? What is the Kaizen principle of incremental change….? Why does the brain motivate us to yearn…?  Why do we yearn for spiritual growth….? Learning something new can change the structure of your brain, how…?

(5) Meet your second brain – How does the brain and your digestive system (your second brain) communicate….? What is your gut instinct or gut feeling….? How does perceived stress disrupt this communication pattern….? Why is sleep, contact with other people and setting goals so critical to our brain health and sense of well-being….? Will Covid-19 shape the way our brain will understands the work….?

(6)  Our brains and Dementia – Today 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia. This figure is projected to almost triple to over 130 million people by 2050. What is Alzheimer’s disease....? Can it be prevented or delayed….? What are the signs and symptoms of early, moderate and advanced Alzheimer’s….? How can we communicate to ‘connect’ with a loved one who is experiencing a brain degenerative disease…? What answers has modern neuroscience research got to tell us….?


Course Lecturer :

Dr. Denis Staunton was the Assistant Director (Academic) in the Centre for Adult Continuing

Education and Director of Access in University College Cork, Ireland.

Entry Requirements:

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.

Contact Details for Further Information:



Please note our refund policy as follows:
100% refund  if student cancels before course commencement
100% refund if student's course is cancelled due to insufficient numbers. 
If the student cancels after the first week of the course - full refund minus €50 processing fee 
If the student cancels after the second week of the course - no refund