SMK – Membership Brandboard V01-06

A 12-week online professional development program in applied neuroscience & brain health.

Next training: September —  December 2022


Neuroscience is complex. But it shouldn't be exclusive.

The  Neuroscience Academy brings professional development and education in applied neuroscience and brain health to a global audience.

  • Created for coaches, therapists, and mental health and wellbeing practitioners.
  • Students work towards a certificate in Applied Neuroscience and Brain Health equivalent to 34 hours of continuing professional development.
  • Taught by Oxford University-educated neuroscientist, TV presenter, and author Dr Sarah McKay.


USD & monthly plans available (scroll down to FAQs)

Are you passionate about health, wellbeing & helping others? So is our thriving global student community!

Introducing the Neuroscience Academy

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Who is the Neuroscience Academy for?

The Neuroscience Academy is a foundational course in applied neuroscience for professionals working in the fields of human behaviour, mental health, education & wellbeing.

Neuroscience Academy alumni tend to fall under the umbrella of ‘helping professionals’ and include:

  • Coaches (we offer ICF CC hours)
  • Mental Health & Allied Health Practitioners
  • Psychologist, Therapists & Counsellors
  • Educators, Teachers & Trainers
  • Leadership Development professionals
  • Meditation & Mindfulness Practitioners, Neurofeedback Providers & Yoga Teachers

The Neuroscience Academy is ideal for professionals who:

  • Wish to improve their neuroscience literacy and understand scientific concepts, phenomena and processes, and their ability to apply this knowledge to their work.
  • Are curious about the brain’s capacity to re-wire and change, but wonder “How can I begin to understand and use concepts from neuroscience in ways that are useful?”
  • Never had the opportunity in their education or early career to study science — our course is accessible for people without a background in biology or psychology.
  • Wish to integrate neurobiology and cognitive science into evidence-based strategies that help others (but don't know where to start).
  • Believe that health, wellbeing and peak performance come from embracing the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.
  • Work in a crowded market and want to stand out from the rest and carve out a niche as a Neuroscience Academy graduate.

34 hours continuing professional development (CPD) + certificate.

Benefits & Outcomes

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Benefits of joining Neuroscience Academy include:

  • Lifetime membership access and ongoing support + training.
  • The Neuroscience Academy certificate of completion in Applied Neuroscience and Brain Health, and 34 hours CPD equivalent.
  • Step-by-step training on how to apply neuroscience-based strategies to transform the lives of clients, patients or students.
  • A new language of simple scripts, metaphors and stories to explain the mind and brain in an engaging way.
  • Students say they not longer feel ‘not-expert-enough’ to talk about the brain with health and wellbeing professionals.
  • Unique insights into brain plasticity, emotion, attention, habits, resilience, and motivation.
  • Consider how the latest findings on stress, neuroplasticity, the gut microbiome, mindfulness, and ageing support your current practice.
  • An introduction to a global community of like-minded professionals .



NeuroAcad 1

Introduction to Health Neuroscience

We’ll take a look at the seductive allure of neuroscience. You’ll be introduced to a foundational model of the course, the Bottom-Up Outside-In Top-Down framework. We’ll discuss what neuroscience can and can’t tell us about ourselves, and you’ll learn essential tips to tease out neuro-fact from neuro-fiction.

NeuroAcad 2

Overview of Nervous System Anatomy

I’ll take you on a whistle-stop tour through the brain to the peripheral, autonomic and enteric (gut) nervous systems. You’ll learn a ‘handy’ way to discuss brain anatomy with clients, and we’ll discuss what the mind is and where it might be found.

NeuroAcad 3

Neurons, Synapses and Neural communication

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at the nuts and bolts of how neurons communicate electrically and chemically. You’ll understand how synapses function and all about neurotransmitter systems. Finally, you'll learn simple and relevant ways to communicate this information with others.

NeuroAcad 4

Changing Brains and Minds.

Can your thoughts really rewire your brain? Do we produce new brain cells throughout life? What are synaptogenesis, neurogenesis, and cortical reorganisation, and when, where and why do they occur? You’ll learn the second foundational model of the course, the REFIRE method.

NeuroAcad 5

The Cognitive Brain

You’ll receive a simple overview of the prefrontal cortex and its role in cognition (thinking). You’ll learn how the brain pays attention, makes decisions, and why it can’t multi-task. We’ll take a look at how emotions and thinking are intimately intertwined, and how to foster metacognition (thinking about thinking) in the people you work with.

NeuroAcad 6

The Emotional Brain

In this lesson, we’ll continue our exploration of how thinking and feeling are entwined. We’ll dig into the contemporary neuroscience of emotions. Finally you'll recieve a primer in the neurobiology of anxiety and depression.

NeuroAcad 7

The Neuroscience of Motivation

You’ll get clear on the neuroscience of motivation. And you’ll be introduced to another foundation model ‘The Will, the Wont and the Way’. We’ll discuss mental rehearsal or visualisation, and revise the latest research on fixed and growth mindsets.

NeuroAcad 8

The Neuroscience of Habit and Change

Understanding habits and facilitating change are fundamental to your work with clients. But what happens in the brain when habits are formed? If the brain is plastic, why is it so hard to break an old habit, and do we form new 'good' habits instead?

NeuroAcad 10

The Mind-Body Connection

Can you really change your health by changing your thoughts? We’ll discuss evidence from mind-body medicine research. We’ll take a look at the amazing power of placebo (and its ‘dark side’, the nocebo effect) and how it directly relates to the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Finally, we’ll look at psychoneuroimmunology and the neuroscience of the mind-brain-immune connection.

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The Ageing Brain

We’ll consider the neuroscience of brain ageing. Is memory loss inevitable with age? You’ll get clear on what the research says about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (and the difference between the two). Learn why ageing is also about growing in experience, wisdom and judgment. You’ll discover the difference between normal memory lapses and memory problems that need to be addressed by a medical professional.

NeuroAcad 9

The Neuroscience of Creativity and Insight

Explore the concept of flow and how it turns everyday experiences into an opportunity for self-fulfilment and mental wellbeing. Learn how to foster creativity, and what happens in your client’s brain during insight or ‘aha’ moments.

NeuroAcad 15

Brain Health and Physical Exercise

Get clear on why the best exercise for the brain is physical exercise. We’ll discuss the relationship between exercise, mood and mental health, and we’ll take a look at how exercise promotes neuroplasticity and slows brain ageing.

NeuroAcad 12

Sleep and Napping

We’ll delve into sleep (and napping), circadian rhythms, and learn why they are vital to brain health and performance. Learn about the intimate interplay between neurotransmitters, sleep and mental health, and the role for sleep in promoting neuroplasticity. Finally, we consider what happens to your brain when you dream.

NeuroAcad 14

Nutrition and the Gut-Brain Connection.

Examine the current evidence on the best diet for brain health. We’ll also explore the research on the gut-brain-microbiome connection. And we’ll take a look at brain ‘super-foods’, and the effects of sugar, coffee, grains and alcohol on the brain—what does the research say?

NeuroAcad 13

Belief and Belonging.

Our brain has a fundamental need to connect and understanding this is vital to your work. We learn how friends and family impact cognitive reserve and take a look at research showing that having passion and purpose protects against brain ageing.

NeuroAcad 17

Stress, Mindfulness, and Meditation.

This lesson has been designed to look at the neurobiology of the stress response, and the best ways we know to buffer stress. We’ll examine what neuroscience says about meditation, and how it affects brain structure and function.

NeuroAcad 16

Brain Health and Mental Exercise.

What is cognitive reserve and why is building it useful? What does the research say about computer-based cognitive brain-training? Take a look at evidence why you should partner with your client to become their brain-training coach.

How does the Neuroscience Academy work?



  • The live scholar's program runs over 12 weeks and includes 9 teaching weeks + 3 rest weeks.
  • Lessons are delivered via a series of short pre-recorded online videos, which are simple and visual and discuss neuroscience concepts + strategies for implementation.
  • Live Q&A calls take place weekly via Zoom. Sarah answers all your questions. Calls are recorded and run for 90 minutes.
  • Each lesson includes a hand-picked library of resources for extended learning or ‘catch-up’.
  • To gain The Neuroscience Academy Certificate of completion in Applied Neuroscience and Brain Health, students pass an online multiple-choice quiz.

Options for SELF-STUDY are available. The self-study suits people who do not wish to gain certification. Includes digital course access only but excludes live Q&A, certification/CPD, Facebook group & alumni access.

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  • Lifetime membership access.
  • Summary notes and worksheets for every lesson. You’ll always have handy access to the most important concepts from each lesson.
  • An extensive hand-picked library of resources, including open-access research papers, books, TEDx talks, articles, and interviews.
  • Step-by-step guides on how to source, read, and understand scientific research articles. 
  • A growing library of in-depth interviews with academics and experts in gut-brain health, positive psychology in coaching, neuroscience in education, and healthy ageing.
  • Private student-only Facebook group for networking and daily Q&A with Sarah.
  • Access to Sarah’s brain (complete with 25 years of neuroscience education, research and teaching downloaded!), Sarah is on hand daily in the Facebook group, weekly live video Q&A, and opportunity to book Sarah for one-to-one office hours.

USD & monthly plans available (scroll down to FAQs)


b. About Sarah

That’s me!  I’m neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay.

I’ve distilled nearly three decades of education, research and teaching neuroscience into creating this program.

My superpower is to make neuroscience simple, actionable, and relevant to your everyday life, and to provide coaches, therapists and health professionals with evidence-based tools and strategies to do the same in their work.

You may have noticed that too often neuroscience research is hidden behind the pay-wall of academic journals, discussed at scientific meetings for other scientists, or presented in a way that is irrelevant to our daily lives.

Or the opposite is true — people with no training in brain science, or minimal understanding of the complexities of research are jumping on the neuroscience bandwagon as ‘brain gurus’ and marketing the latest product, program, or magic-bullet solution usually based on inaccurate, outdated or even mythical neuroscience (wave 'goodbye' to the lizard brain!).

The Neuroscience Academy is designed to change all that (we separate the science from the shamanism!) and make up-to-date research from neurobiology, cognitive science and positive psychology accurate, simple and practical for you and your work.

I hold three degrees in neuroscience including a doctorate in Neuroscience from Oxford University. After five years in academia, I founded the science communications business (Think Brain) in 2008. In my spare time, I present the ABC science TV show Catalyst, write a popular neuroscience blog, speak (including at TEDx events) and in 2018 published a popular science book on women’s brain health.

Dr Sarah McKay is a bright, credible light who stands out in the complex yet fascinating field of neuroscience. Fusing her prestigious academic background with her unique ability to translate complex concepts into words we can all understand, she offers real-world science that we can use to better our lives. In her ground-breaking program, The Neuroscience Academy, she offers coaches, therapists and wellness pros a step-by-step blueprint to confidently integrate neuroscience into their practice. In the past 15 years, what we’ve learned about plasticity has given us unprecedented hope for repairing and optimizing brain function. This program is an absolute must for any professional gifted with the opportunity to improve the lives of their patients, clients or students.

Erin Matlock
CEO, Brain Pages and Brain Summits

This is the perfect blend of wellness and science. Sarah has the unique ability to infuse the complex subjects of neuroscience and brain function and health with warmth and humor breaking the information into understandable, practical chunks that can be easily be implemented to improve lives.

Debbie Hampton
Author of The Best Brain Possible.

As a neurofeedback provider I am well acquainted with the brain and its functions and I am always looking to expand my knowledge by hearing from other professionals. Dr. McKay is a vivacious and entertaining guide into the fascinating world of brain science. With an obvious passion to share what she has learned as an experienced and credentialed expert, she leads us on a very accessible journey into the complex world of what makes us tick. Using insightful and engaging presentations, with rich and varied reference materials to further explore, Dr. McKay shows us how the mind and body are intimately intertwined. This not not your ‘father’s neuroscience course’ — a dry, didactic review of academic studies — but an integrated programof easy-to-understand, useful information designed to improve our lives and those of our clients.

John Mekrut
Director, The Balance Brain Neurofeedback Training Centre

As a coaching psychologist, I found the Neuroscience Academy an excellent opportunity to develop a much better appreciation of neuroscience theory and most importantly, the practical application of neuroscience to support coaching clients in achieving their goals. Dr McKay shares cutting edge, evidenced based content in a highly engaging, accessible way. My learning from the programme has given me the confidence to speak knowledgeably to clients about aspects of neuroscience e.g. changing habits. On a personal level, I have developed a greater awareness of how lifestyle factors impact brain health and how to maximise my attention and focus to achieve a better balance and ‘flow’ in my life…

Dr. Mary Collins
Coaching Psychologist, Royal College of Surgeons

Sarah, you have put together an extraordinary package of learning with such fresh perspectives and approaches. You have no equal. I am telling you this because of all the programmes I have done at University, online and full time, your offering is unique. I am still active on several boards, run several companies including a Wellness Clinic and I am still studying. I won’t retire for another 15 years or more if I am still alive hale and healthy. I have just completed an advanced programme with Med school on Functional and Integrative Medicine and since last year I am also a qualified lawyer in international law and human rights. I am writing to say thank you. What a journey of learning. We appreciate the quality of your course and the effort that has gone into it to make this a learning experience of substance, not a seven day wonder, but a reflective journey which will last.

Denise Bjorkman
Vice president, The SA Council of Prof Coaches & Mentors, Director Centre for Executive Renewal

Sarah’s course is comprehensive, cutting edge, beautifully articulated, and has a brilliant abundant back up of resources to dive into. I have loved learning about the brain for a couple of years. I wanted to bring structure and credibility to my scattered and disjointed knowledge of neuroscience. Also there is a supportive community, just enough info for the therapist, and a challenge for the grey matter without bogging down in too much anatomy … just loved it all!

Carol Vaughan
B.Couns Dip.Hyp MAEPH Perth Hypnosis Clinic

Since completing The Neuroscience Academy I have developed confidence in explaining key neuroscience nuggets to clients using basic language! These nuggets can often shift perceptions and make a real life difference to how clients view their path to wellness. I also feel more confident that I understand the complexities if I need to expand further.

Emer Duffy
Specialist Occupational Therapist

In developing my decision-support framework I was looking for a neuroscience evidence base that would be accessible to me as a non-scientifically trained person, and relevant to supporting people improve their everyday decision-making, and therefore wellbeing. What I have absolutely valued about Sarah’s program is how it has enabled me to understand proven neuroscience, fenced off the flakey to almost-feasible assertions and correlations, and provided practical examples of its application. Through Sarah’s concise yet illuminating explanations, rich links to research, and a diversity of materials, I can improve the value of the advice I provide to others about how to improve their wellbeing and manage change. From a thoroughly stimulating 8 week course, I have a strong foundation, and an ongoing community, to keep learning how to apply neuroscience to the wider work I do helping people understand the futureNOW, and make sense of ‘tomorrow’ today.

Marianne Doczi
Provocateur, futurenowknowhow.com

Sarah is like a personal shopper for neuroscience: she finds the most relevant, current, credible research regarding the brain and the coach approach and presents it to you in a way that you can actually utilise with clients. Even though I’ve been coaching for a few years her insights and up-to-date info keep me on top of my game. Sarah does a great job of being an accessible academic. She is warm and approachable with a big bag of knowledge and resources – the perfect combo!

Kathleen Buchanan
Wellness Coach and Yoga Teacher, Owner be.well.

I truly believe that Sarah’s ability to present the connections between neuroscience and mindset will revolutionise Coaching. As a Mindset Coach I had dabbled in my own reading and research into neuroplasticity and the undeniable impact our experiences have on our brain. What Sarah provided me with was an accessible way to understand the science and gain a fundamental knowledge of how neuroscience can foster a healthy mindset in our clients. I’m excited to continue my neuroscience learnings with Sarah!

Sonya Lovell
Mindset coach and founder of Success Club.

The Neuroscience Academy has proven to me more than ever that Ageless Grace is exactly what we need in our world today — as Sarah says ‘The BEST EXERCISE FOR THE BRAIN IS PHYSICAL EXERCISE!’ I’m pleased that our program of Ageless Grace uses the brain and the body in a way that is consistent with all that I learned from this fabulous course! Every week I have incorporated into my classes, seminars, trainings and personal sessions what I learned or have been reminded of. I have reposted a few of the articles you suggested for us — and have used the handouts you provided — they are excellent resources for my students and clients! I loved all the new information I have learned, it has allowed me to grow and adapt to our program to new research being done. THANK YOU Sarah for giving me this opportunity!

Denise Medved
Director, Ageless Grace

This online class is exceptional. Sarah distills a complicated topic into bite size pieces so that it matches the level of teaching to the person’s background. Her resource list to dig further into each topic allowed me to further enhance my learning in the areas that deeply interested me. I learned something new in each segment of each class. I highly recommend this program. I am a learner at heart. As an ICF certified coach, I feel it is my responsibility to be open to learning what I do not know. This was a stretch goal as my background is not in science. I am using your models to help clients understand that they are in control of their own choices, especially ones that affect wellbeing.

Melinda Harrison
Coach, Researcher, Writer, Speaker, www.movingbeyond.org

This was one of the most exciting courses I have done in years. It is an evidence-based ‘handbook’ on how to live well and live well longer, and much more. It is a thoughtfully-crafted course created and delivered by a passionate, dedicated and delightful teacher. Sarah provided a perfect combination of scientific research and practical suggestions for personal use as well as for people working in fields where neuroscience has direct applicability. She presents complex material in an accessible way. The library is comprehensive and includes top-line blogs, podcasts and talks. The facebook group is also a great resource as there are many interesting posts and links from others dazzled by neuroscience. I learned so much from this course and hope to continue to deepen my knowledge and stay connected to Sarah’s academy. This was the perfect course for me at this time in my life. Thank you so much Sarah!

Di Singer
Former partner at Ross Carmichael Singer; Currently involved in a startup.

As a teacher I am keenly aware of the need to combine an understanding of the brain and mind with education to enhance the principles of teaching. This course has allowed me to provide an evidence based pedagogy to address the specific requirements of the developing brain. Consequently, my students have benefited from learning knowledge and skills that they can apply to improve their own lives and schooling. Dr Sarah McKay has provided a program that is informative, applicable and stimulating to any educator.

Kathy Hunter
Educator. Director, Hunter Study Solutions

Since completing The Neuroscience Academy I am much more aware of all the ways that brain health can contribute to overall health & wellness; much more likely to seek evidence-based information, rather than accept unverified information. I have LOTS of ideas about how to incorporate these learnings into my creative workshops; and a long list of fascinating resources to read! The course was very well-organised. I loved the fact that I could access each lesson when it suited me; I loved all the resources; the summary notes were very helpful; and I also appreciated that I could listen to the Q&A sessions in my own time. You are a great facilitator Sarah! I really enjoyed the video presentations; your style of presentation is direct, engaging, personal and very helpful for those of us who are not scientists.

Cate Richmond
Community Arts Facilitator

This course is a wonderful introduction to someone who’s new to this field or study but I can see how anyone with deeper understanding would also enjoy and increase their knowledge. Whether you’re ‘in the business’ or just want to learn more about your own brain and get some great tips on promoting neurogenesis and slow down ageing overall. I’ve found that I’m re-wording the set-up key phrases for Callanetics exercises in my classes. I’ve always done this to some degree but I’ve upped this to finding different ways of setting them up and giving them something different to focus on and the sensations they’re feeling. My teaching focus is to reduce the amount of habituated patterns to encourage neurons to fire as they did when the first started the program and learnt everything from scratch.

Sandra Hanna
Callanetics Master Trainer


The Neuroscience Academy

Pre-register for our next training September 2022.

Self-Study options are available all year round.

Email drsarahmckay@gmail.com with any questions.