Positive Neuroscience: A Dialogue Between Scientists and Practitioners

Project title
Positive Neuroscience: A Dialogue Between Scientists and Practitioners
Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Inter-Institutional Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
12 months
Although numerous studies have shown that positive psychology (PP) interventions can improve physical, emotional, social and psychological well-being, very little is known about the neural mechanisms of human flourishing. Positive neuroscience is an emerging field of research that focuses on valued cognitive and affective qualities in the brain functioning that support human development and flourishing (Seligman, 2009). Whereas considerable neuroscience research has focused on disease, dysfunction, and psychological problems, positive neuroscience uses neuroscientific tools to investigate positive psychological concepts, providing a new perspective on and more in-depth insights into the ways the brain enables human flourishing. Furthermore, more and more practitioners are incorporating concepts of positive psychology into their existing practice in various disciplines (e.g. education, mental health, social work etc.). Therefore, it is important to build knowledge of positive neuroscience to promote brain-based best practice from an interdisciplinary perspective to support human flourishing across different developmental stages. The proposed IIDS project will comprise some research-led educational seminars and short courses developed to facilitate dialogue between scientists and practitioners (overseas and local) in various disciplines, and thereby to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms and applications of positive neuroscience. The five proposed seminars will be thoughtfully designed and partly based on Professor Martin Seligman’s model of flourishing (PERMA) and the recent trend of positive neuroscience. The five topics of the seminars will be: 1) Positive Neuroscience: Exploring the Neuroscience of Well-Being, 2) Mindful Mind: Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness, 3) Connecting Neuroscience with the Meaning of Life, 4) A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective on Prosocial Behaviour, and 5) Nurturing a Creative Mind through the Neuroscience of Creativity. Two 3-day short courses will also be offered to build the participants knowledge of and competence in the use of principles and concepts of positive neuroscience to plan evidence-based practice and interventions in their own disciplines to improve the well-being of their clients. The first short course will be titled as “Brain Plasticity and Positive Human Development” and will address the following topics: brain plasticity; theory of change, early neurocognitive interventions, behavioural development, competence, and resilience. The second short course will be titled as “Applying Positive Neuroscience in Designing Evidence-based Mental Health Practice” and will address the following topics: neural bases of strength-based interventions, compassion-based interventions, brain-based addiction treatment and prevention, positive neuroscience and geriatric palliative care, and healthy ageing. To promote interdisciplinary learning, speakers will be from the fields of cognitive neuropsychology, social neuropsychology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, psychiatry, and social work will be invited to contribute to the seminars and short courses. Together, the seminars and short courses that make up this proposed IIDS project will not only help local scholars, researchers, students, and practitioners in various disciplines to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of positive neuroscience, they will also build their competence in teaching, studying and applying positive neuroscience in their own disciplines. Although the field of positive neuroscience is still nascent, interdisciplinary insights will be gained from the in-depth and ongoing intellectual exchanges promoted by this project between scientists and practitioners in and beyond the proposed seminars and short courses, helping them to develop high quality scientific research and ultimately to integrate this research with evidence-based practice.