March 7th

Theme of Day: Conflict

The lasting impact of conflict and the self in conflict.

Can individual and collective conflict, be they acquired brain injury, neurological degeneration, the long tail of war, or othering narratives, be foundations for neuroscience informed health services saturated with creativity?



Welcome, Agenda, and Eoin Dillon piper




The avant garde piper is well known as one of the founding members of Kíla, the famous Irish music group born in the early 90’s in Dublin, in which he, Eoin, was the backbone. With Kíla, Eoin composed many songs (eleven albums) and in particular for the theater, animated films and documentaries. He collaborated on the music for The Secret of Kells and The Song of the Sea by the French composer Bruno Coulais, nominated for the Oscars, as well as the Ireland’s Wild River, named Best Music at the Emmy Awards in 2015.

Eoin also worked with many artists such as John Sheahan and Barney McKenna of the Dubliners, U2, Sinéad O’Connor, Dónal Lunny, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Fiachna Ó Braonáin, Mícheál Ó Súibhleabháin, The Japanese pop-star Kai-Kai, the Senegalese singer Baba Maal to name but a few.



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The Impact of Conflict

Brian Lawlor and Ian Robertson introduce the day, looking forward to the day ahead and reflecting on some of the discussions the previous afternoon.

This leads directly on to the first session of the day which discusses how Conflict has enduring effects on the health of combatant and civilian. Beginning locally reflecting on the long term health impact of the Troubles, including high suicide rates and gender based violence, the session presents learnings from the neuroscience of Colombia’s ex-combatants, and concludes with work on the use of large data sets to predict the early warning signs of war.

  • Chaired by Brian Lawlor
  • Professor Ciaran Mulholland – Northern Ireland Mental Health Impact, Mental and Physical Health
  • Agustin Ibanez – The Neuroscience of Conflict (Learn more:  overview of issues and specific research paper)
  • Thomas Chadefaux – Predictive Models of conflict.


Hands cradling Mother Earth against starfield background


Thomas Chadefaux is a Professor in Political Science at Trinity College Dublin. His current research focuses on the causes of interstate conflict and on their prediction. In particular, he relies on large amounts of fine-grained spatial and temporal data (e.g., newspapers, satellite images, financial markets) to reveal early warning signals for war.

He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Prior to becoming a Professor of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin, he was a visiting assistant professor in the department of political science at the University of Rochester and a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich.





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Agustín Ibáñez is a neuroscientist interested in global approaches to dementia and social, cognitive, and affective neuroscience. He is the Director of Latin American Brain Health Institute (BrainLat) at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (UAI) in Chile. He also holds international positions from the USA/Ireland [Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at the University of California San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin)] and Argentina [Cognitive Neuroscience Center]. Agustín holds a track record of +300 publications (+120 in the last five years), including top-ten journals (e.g., Lancet Neurology, World Psychiatry, Nature Reviews Neurology, Nature Human Behavior, JAMA Neurology, Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Brain, Neuron). He has received funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), ANID (Chile), COLCIENCIAS (Colombia), DAAD (Germany), MRC (United Kingdom), CONICET (Argentina) and Alzheimer’s Association, Tau Consortium, GBHI, Takeda, and NIH/NIA (USA). He is the founder of critical regional initiatives, such as the multi-partner consortium to expand dementia research in Latin America (ReDLat) and the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD). His work has been highlighted in the BBC, Nature, Nature News, Discovery Channel, Popular Science, Daily Mail, Newsweek, Le Monde, and Oxford University Press, among others.










Professor Brian Lawlor (MD, FRCPI, FRCPsych, FTCD (Hon), DABPN) is Conolly Norman Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, and Site Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College. He is a geriatric psychiatrist with an interest in dementia, late-life depression, loneliness and brain health. Brian has worked for over 30 years on developing services and delivering care to people with dementia. His research interests range from early detection and prevention to evaluating new treatments for dementia.





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X:  @ProfLawlor

Ciaran Mulholland is a consultant psychiatrist with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland (since 1998), and (since April 2000), a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Medical Education at The Queen’s University of Belfast. He was appointed as an Visiting Professor by the Bamford Centre for Mental Health Research at the Ulster University in 2009 and was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2012.

He is co-lead for an innovative service for young people (age 14-35) with “at risk mental states”-that is, those thought to be at risk of developing a psychotic illness.
Since 2015 he has been the Clinical Director of the Regional Trauma Network, established to address the mental health consequences of the “Troubles”/Conflict. The Network co-ordinates services across the statutory sector and 48 community and voluntary sector providers.

He is an advisor to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, the Commission for Victims and Survivors, Department of Health, Department of Justice, the Victims Payments Board and The Executive Office, on a range of mental health issues including the implementation of the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme.
He is a member of the NI Veterans Mental Health Committee, and the UK Contact group which brings together more than 60 statutory and non-statutory sector providers of mental health services to veterans across NI, Scotland, Wales and England.

In recent months he has provided advice, training, and support to mental health services in Poland and Ukraine which are addressing the consequences of the conflict in the region. He is co-lead of the NI Clinical Research Network Mental Health Group and is a board member of the IMPACT Research Centre. He has a research interest in the causes and treatment of psychotic illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorder and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and reports as well as several book chapters and books. In the last several years he has appeared in a number of television documentaries on topics relating to trauma and has frequently been asked to
provide interviews, articles and podcasts for the print and broadcast media.







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Ian Robertson is a Founding Director of the Global Brain Health Institute and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin. He is co-leader of the  BrainHealth Project (Center for BrainHealth UTDallas) and is a Member of Academia Europaea and of the Royal Irish Academy. He is widely known for his research on neuropsychology and his science writing has included books aimed at the general reader: Mind Sculpture (2000), The Mind’s Eye (2003), Stay Sharp (2005), The Winner Effect (2012) and The Stress Test (2016), all of which have been widely translated. His most recent book How Confidence Works was published by Penguin in 2022.





X:  @ihrobertson

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian-robertson-4480502/



Creative Brain Week Living Labs

Living Labs were an opportunity to dive deep with peers, or engage across experience and disciplines into the topics of Creative Brain Week.

Daily sessions offered attendees an opportunity to discuss, develop and reflect on the themes of the day through

    • Dance and movement with Ailish Claffey
    • Visual arts Eliza Squibb and Wambui Karanja
    • Facilitated theatre lab with Youth Theatre Ireland
    • Neuroscience and dialogue led by Mani Ramaswami – Professor of Neurogenetics invites discourse on todays themes. A major focus in Neuroscience is to decipher molecular cellular and circuit mechanisms that enable neural operations. Or how brains learn to recognize and ignore familiar patterns of stimulation, and how local regulation of synaptic mRNA translation occurs and contributes to long-term learning of familiar stimuli. What can be learnt about Conflict, Imagination and Joy though this discipline?  Supported by Shaimaa El Jaafary.

These sessions reflect the engaged nature of the event and were added to on the day at the venue.  These sessions were In Person only.

Eliza Squibb Work


Over the last two decades, Ailish has worked with diverse groups within the community developing her co-creative and Dance for Health practice. Specialising in choreological studies, her work draws from exploring the complexity of human relationship and examining the lived experience of those she works with.

As Dance Artist in Residence at The National Centre for Arts and Health (2015 – 2019) Tallaght University Hospital (TUH), Ailish’s dance film documentary The Dance Back Home received a Certificate of Excellence from the HSE Excellence Awards (2018). Ailish has designed and delivered many large-scale projects nationally and her work has been kindly supported by Dance Ireland, The Arts Council, Ireland, Culture Ireland, Kildare Co. Council, South Dublin Co. Council, The Meath Foundation, The National Centre for Arts and Health among others. Ailish is the recipient of the inaugural Artist in Residence programme at The ACRE Project, Celbridge, a partnership with Kildare County Council Arts Service.



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Neurology consultant and movement disorders specialist, working as associate professor of Neurology at Cairo University, Egypt. Shaimaa’s role is better described as a medical educator, researcher and clinician . An active member of the specialized movement disorders clinic as well as memory and cognitive dysfunction clinic for more than six years. Shaimaa is fascinated by aging and interested in neurodegenerative diseases, especially Huntington’s disease. Working on raising awareness about these diseases among health professionals and public to improve the quality of care.



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Eliza uses textile design to bridge the worlds of art and science. Collaborating with healthcare providers, artists, and artisans, Eliza creates textile patterns that communicate health information for populations with low literacy or language barriers that prevent equitable healthcare access. Eliza’s textile patterns have been funded by grants like the Grand Challenge Exploration grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and her designs have been used in health campaigns in West Africa to promote maternal and infant health. Eliza is an Atlantic Fellow for US + Global Health Equity (AFHE, 2019), and she loves collaborating with other fellows around the world. Eliza co-teaches biomimicry design at the Rhode Island School of Design and human-centered design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a course that connects innovative global start-ups and nonprofits with teams of student engineers. Originally from Maine, Eliza lives in Providence, Rhode Island where she loves to try to hike, but there are no hills in Rhode Island, so she ends up canoeing in the marshes.





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Wambui is a psychologist and independent consultant. She grew up in Murang’a, Kenya and is now based in Nairobi, working in research, advocacy and caregiving of dementia in various African settings. Her main interests are in Healthy Ageing, Dementia and MentalHealth. She coordinates the Africa Brain Health Network, an organisation that aims to promote awareness of brain health across the lifespan in Africa and beyond. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Kenyatta University and previously was a graduate attaché atthe British Institute in Eastern Africa where she researched perceptions of cognitive decline and dementia among informal caregivers. She is an analumnus of Young African Leadership Initiative, (YALI) East Africa, and a proud global Atlantic fellow for Equity in Brain Health.



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Dr Mani Ramaswami is Professor of Neurogenetics at Trinity College Dublin and Director of Trinity College Institute of Neurosciences (TCIN) His research interests include nervous system, neural networks, computational neuroscience, molecular neuroscience. Mani serves as an editorial member and reviewer of several international reputed journals. He has authored of many research articles/books related to nervous system, neural networks, computational neuroscience, molecular neuroscience.


Website: https://www.tcd.ie/Neuroscience/ramaswami/

For the last 40 years, youth theatres in Ireland have been consciously and purposefully cultivating creativity at an important stage in the life cycle of the human being. How does youth theatre nurture creativity in young people? How does an experience that has fun at its centre promote wellbeing and provide an experience frequently described by participants as ‘transformational’? These sessions will showcase what happens in the youth theatre space. Those who join us will have the opportunity to witness exercises and approaches effective in unleashing our intrinsic ability and drive to imagine, to play, to make, to create.



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Creativity as a Response to Conflict

Can creativity nudge societies towards a deeper healing? Examples across art forms of artists leading cultures past conflict, mirrors the morning session.

  • Chaired by Nicholas Johnson
  • Karen Diamond – Re-Live.
  • Rachel Clarke-Hughes – The Playhouse’s Peacebuilding Programme
  • David Cotterrell – An Artist works on Conflict
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David Cotterrell is an installation artist working across media and technologies to explore the social and political tendencies of a world at once shared and divided. The practice is typified by an interest in intersection: whether fleeting encounter or heavily orchestrated event,

Cotterrell’s works explore the human condition and the breaks or nuances that can lead to a less ambiguous understanding of the world they inhabit. Encapsulating the roles of programmer, producer and director, Cotterrell works to develop projects that can embrace the quiet spaces that are the sites for action, which might (or might not) be clearly understood in the future.

Cotterrell’s work has been commissioned and shown extensively in Europe, the United States and Asia. He is Research Professor of Fine Art and Director of Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University and is represented by Danielle Arnaud gallery.









As Head of Engagement, Rachel Clarke-Hughes is at the core of the creative engine at The Playhouse, championing the connection between producing art, making peaceful change and empowering people. 

A senior creative leader and coach in the performing arts sector Rachel is passionate about access and excellence: pursuing opportunities to work creatively in every possible corner of society – with infants to vulnerable communities to world leading elite professionals – she orchestrates meaningful programmes for people to come together and empower one another.

Passionate about making art, the issues people face in Northern Ireland and beyond these shores Rachel’s motivated by artistic work that supports transformative, sustainable change at local, national and international levels.

Her creativity is matched by empathy and her commitment to equality and kindness: believing the arts are a vital part of our everyday lives and a force for good in the world.



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Karin is the Artistic Director of Re-Live, an Arts in Health organisation co-creating Life Story arts projects with underrepresented communities, including people living with dementia, veterans with complex PTSD, older people and people at the end of life. 




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Nicholas Johnson is Associate Professor of Drama at Trinity College Dublin, where he directs the Trinity Centre for Beckett Studies and convenes the interdisciplinary Creative Arts Practice research theme. His books include Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett (Brill, 2021), Influencing Beckett / Beckett Influencing (L’Harmattan, 2020), Experimental Beckett (Cambridge UP, 2020) and Bertolt Brecht’s David Fragments (1919–1921): An Interdisciplinary Study (Bloomsbury, 2020). He co-edited the “Performance Issue” (23.1, 2014) and the “Pedagogy Issue” (29.1, 2020) of the Journal of Beckett Studies (Edinburgh UP). Directing credits include Virtual Play (2017–19) and world premieres of The David Fragments (2017), Enemy of the Stars(2015), and No’s Knife (Lincoln Center, 2015). He works as dramaturg with Pan Pan, OT Platform, and Dead Centre and facilitates theatre workshops internationally. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College in 2021.




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Positive Psychology: Moving Beyond Conflict

The science of the brain grows ever more informed, moving from the lab to daily life, suggesting ways to align research and practice.

  • Chair Enda McNulty
  • Sonia Bishop with Dan McCormack and Quinton O’Reilly – Psychology and Improv. Learn more: Ghost Stories | The Improv Playground
  • Ciaran O’Boyle – RCSI Centre for Positive Psychology and Health
  • Nisha L Sajnani, NYU




Sonia Bishop is a professor in the School of Psychology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin. She trained at Oxford University, the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London and Cambridge University and held a faculty position in the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley before moving to Trinity College Dublin last August. She teaches a course on Emotion and the Brain and conducts research into how depression and anxiety impact decision-making and its neural basis. At UC Berkeley, she ran a freshman seminar on exploring psychology through improv while also performing in improv troupes in Oakland.  Dan McCormack and Quinton O’Reilly are members of Dublin Improv troupe GhostStories; Quinton also co-runs the drop-in Improv_Playground.

Over 15+ years Dan McCormack has directed multiple stage productions & short films across the UK, Ireland, and the US.  He is currently directing & performing in the touring show: GHOST STORIES: A Comedy of Improvised Horror! He has been the Artistic Director of the Tightrope Theatre for the past 3 years.

Previously he has worked in Script development/Acquisition for Oscar winning companies Big Beach Films & Belladonna Productions based in New York. Dan is a graduate of Directing (Film Production) BA Hons at the Arts University Bournemouth & Cinematography Cert at BCFE.

Dan McCormack and Quinton O’Reilly are members of Dublin Improv troupe GhostStories; Quinton also co-runs the drop-in Improv_Playground.

Enda has created a unique approach to leadership, resilience, teams and wellbeing through his learnings in sport, psychology and business.

Enda is a specialist in Performance, Leadership, Mental toughness and Culture. With 25 years of experience in coaching elite performance in areas such as sport, business, politics and performance arts, Enda is the CEO and founder of McNulty, a high-growth training and development organization. Enda played Gaelic Games at the highest level for 12 years, competing as part of highly successful sports teams. During this time, Enda testifies that he learned a huge amount about leading, team & culture, how to win and how to learn from losing.

Enda has coached and mentored many elite athletes over a 20-year career. He has worked as part of the back-room performance team to hugely successful teams and athletes, including Joe Schmidt’s Leinster and Ireland teams. On top of extensive experience in elite sport, Enda has more than 15 years of experience coaching, mentoring and facilitating enhanced performance in the business world. In working with high-level executives in some of the leading companies around the world, such as Microsoft, Facebook, Intel and Amazon, Enda has gained invaluable experience with a diverse range of industries, cultures and leaders.

Enda specialises in coaching and mentoring in the areas of Leadership, Mindset, High Performance Teams, Creative Performance Environments, Resilience and Wellbeing, and is the author of best-selling book “Commit!”. He is also a board member of the John & Pat Hume foundation, supporting and inspiring leadership for peaceful change.



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Professor Ciaran O’Boyle  is a Professor of Psychology at the RCSI and is  the Founding Director of the RCSI Centre for Positive Psychology and Health. He is also the Founding Director of  the RCSI Institute of Leadership which he managed from 2005 to 2019. He established the first Department of Psychology in an Irish Medical School in 1985 and was its Chairman until 2005. He has also been a Visiting Professor of Behavioural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, Vice Dean for Quality and Strategy of the RCSI Faculty of Medicine and a member of of the RCSI Senior Management Team. Since 2001, he has been the National Educator for the RCSI Advanced Trauma and Life Support (ATLS) Programme. Before joining the RCSI, he was a senior research psychologist at the Irish Foundation for human Development/UCD Department of Psychiatry and a psychopharmacologist at the Psychosomatic Research Unit, both  at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. He holds a BSc & a PhD, both from UCD, a Diploma in Theology from the Milltown Institute of Theology & Philosophy and a Diploma in Organisational Leadership from the University of Oxford. He lectures extensively in Ireland and internationally and he has publihsed over 70 peer-reviewed papers, two books and numerous book chapters. He has been a consultant psychologist to a range of national and international public and private sector organisations in the military, aviation, financial services and healthcare sectors.





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Quinton O’Reilly is a performer from Dublin, Ireland. His background is in improv comedy where he’s heavily involved in both shows and organisation. He’s a co-founder of The Playground where he runs drop-in workshops for all levels, is a member of GHOST STORIES as well as MOB Theatre Dublin and has performed in the Dublin Fringe Festival, Scene + Heard Festival as well as venues in Europe and the US

Dan McCormack and Quinton O’Reilly are members of Dublin Improv troupe GhostStories; Quinton also co-runs the drop-in Improv_Playground.

Nisha Sajnani is the founding co-director of the Jameel Arts & Health Lab, a collaboration with Community Jameel, the World Health Organisation (WHO), New York University (NYU) Steinhardt and CULTURUNNERS, where she leads the Lancet global series on the health benefits of the arts. Nisha is an associate professor and director of the NYU program in drama therapy and the chair of the NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium. Other faculty appointments include NYU Abu Dhabi where she developed a trans-disciplinary course entitled Can Art Save Lives? uniting current evidence for the health benefits of the arts with practice and policy, the NYU Stern School of Business where she teaches Improvisation and Leadership, and the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma where she lectures on the role of the arts in supporting the wellbeing of people who are forcibly displaced. Nisha received her PhD in interdisciplinary studies, combining drama therapy and community economic development, from the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University in Montreal. An award winning author, educator, and advocate, her body of work explores unique ways in which aesthetic experience can inspire equity, care and collective human flourishing across the lifespan.    



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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nishasajnani/

X:  https://twitter.com/NishaSajnani



World Premiere of Keys Bags Names Words

The Individual in Conflict: Alzheimer’s Disease

Keys Bags Names Words is a quirky and inspiring lens portraying stories of both the personal and global impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, while following a cohort of young scientists and artists from around the world as they harness every aspect of creativity, humor and compassion to lead the way towards hope and resilience.

This documentary was made in collaboration with Voice of Witness and the Global Brain Health Institute.

This was the world premiere of “Keys Bags Names Words”  and there was a post-show discussion, hosted by Zach Bandler and Karen Meenan with Caroline Prioleau and Cynthia Stone.

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As a director, Zach’s work has won awards and played film festivals across the globe. His short film The Lightkeeper (2018) was named final recipient of the CINE Golden Eagle Award for Narrative Short Film, an award recognizing rising filmmakers since 1962 which has honored the early careers of Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Spike Lee, Taylor Hackford and others. It was also “Best of the Month” on Omeleto, YouTube’s largest short film channel with 3.5 million subscribers. His dark comedy film Torn (2019) premiered online with Directors Notes, and his mid-length short film The Stairs (2016) is a multi-award winner at festivals.

As a screenwriter, his first teleplay Hollywood and Vine (2012) was given an industry presentation at the American Film Institute, starring Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and directed by Independent Spirit Award winner Mark Polish. His screenplays have been Finalists in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards and Cinequest Screenwriting Competition and shortlisted for the ScreenCraft Film Fund.

Zach is a Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, working to develop empathetic narratives at the intersection of film & television with dementia rights & destigmatization. His first film to emerge from this endeavor, Koko Suzanne, is a collaboration with Global Atlantic Fellow Emmanuel Epenge, and will shoot in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2024. His screenplay Altered, based on true events from the life of Global Brain Health Institute co-founder Dr. Bruce Miller, is a 2023 Finalist in the ScreenCraft Feature Competition and is currently being developed for production next year.

He is a Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health.




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Karen Meenan is a self-employed entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience as a retailer, marketing consultant, trainer, coach, dementia-inclusive theatre director, radio presenter and research assistant. She is a Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health in Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) Trinity College working with scientists, academics, and artists to improve brain health on a worldwide scale.  In Sep 2017 she founded ‘Making Hay Reminiscence Theatre’ an inter-generational dementia-inclusive workshop-based theatre company. www.makinghaytheatre.ie is the first and only member of European Reminiscence Network (ERN) which has member countries in Japan, Singapore, Australia, North America, Europe and the UK.

She is a volunteer researcher, presenter and producer of four radio series on Near FM Community Radio ‘Reminiscence on the Radio’, ‘Voyage Around My Brain’ ‘Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration’ and more recently ‘Atlantic, Pacific and Beyond’ She is the winner of the Gold Social Benefit Award in CRAOL Community Radio Ireland awards.  These programmes feature the voices of over a hundred guests in studio and online since January 2020 and are broadcast every Monday 6-7pm on NearFM 90.3.




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Caroline helps communicate the mission and work of GBHI and the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program through stories and images. She is also part of the hear/say project that collects and shares personal narratives about aging, dementia, and life.



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Cynthia Stone has been creating social justice documentary-style pieces for nearly three decades. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her work has appeared regionally on KQED, and nationally on PBS, The BBC/PRI, and The Discovery Channel, among others. She has won multiple regional Emmy, Society of Professional Journalists, and Press Club awards. Having covered education, the environment, health, poverty, and equity issues, she’s inspired to highlight people and programs finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems. The wisdom and humor of those in this film helped her better connect with, and care for, her own mother throughout her aging process from her vital active years through her memory loss. Teaming up here with award winning Oakland-based, feature-film editor and co-producer, Linda Peckham.

Website:  https://cynthiastonemedia.com