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New app to explore young people’s views on smart drugs and the effects of technology on the brain


Is being in love just a chemical reaction? Is technology harming our brains? Is it OK to enhance brain function with cognitive enhancers, or ‘smart drugs’? These are just some of the areas of debate presented in a new free app launched today, which explores social and ethical questions about the human brain.

In a first for ’Big Picture’ (the Wellcome Trust’s free post-16 resource on biology and medicine), the app presents users with a series of stimulating debates on matters relating to the brain. The app is designed to be interactive: students are able to consider detailed arguments for and against eight questions, before casting their vote and sharing their views with peers.

An additional area for teachers within the app provides suggestions of how it can be used in the classroom, as well as information on how it links to the curriculum.

The app is part of the Trust’s programme of high-quality contemporary science resources for teachers and learners. Hilary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust, said: "In an increasingly digital age, we hope it will be a fun way of stimulating informed debate, both inside and outside the classroom.

“It will also provide a unique insight into young people’s opinions on topics such as the licensing of cannabis for medicinal purposes and the use of cognitive enhancers.”

The free multi-platform app, built by Cimex E-learning on behalf of the Wellcome Trust, is available from the App Store and as a ’web app’ through the Wellcome Trust website. Join the conversation on Twitter using #braindebate.

Notes to editors

About Big Picture
Big Picture is a free post-16 resource for teachers and students that explores issues around biology and medicine. Published twice a year, it brings cutting-edge science into the classroom.

Everything you need to take post-16 biology lessons to the next level, the Big Picture series is a free magazine accompanied by fantastic free online content. Animations, games, video and audio files, plus lesson plans and curriculum links accompany each print issue in the series. Online content also includes videos with researchers, radio plays about health, debates about ethical issues and more.

About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

About Cimex E-learning
Cimex E-learning is a London-based digital agency whose award-winning team specialises in the creation of educational games, apps and interactive websites.


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