Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE

Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE

Professor of Pharmacology,
Oxford University


Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE is Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University, a neuroscientist, writer and broadcaster. She has been awarded 30 honorary degrees from British and foreign universities.

In 1998 she received the Michael Faraday Medal from the Royal Society, was awarded a CBE in the Millienium New Year's Honours List and was granted a non-political Life Peerage in 2001.

In 2003 she published a neuroscientific theory of consciousness, 'The Private Life of the Brain' and she has developed a keen interest in the impact of modern technologies on how young people think and feel. The theme of unprecendented changes to contemporary human cognition, arguably comparable in its significance to Climate Change, is explored more recently in her book 'You and Me' (2011), and developed further in an in depth exploration of the impact of technology on the brain in 'Mind Change: How 21st Century Technology is Changing the way we Think and Feel' to be published later in 2013 by Random House, New York.


DAY 1: Helping children & young people thrive, achieve and belong: How neuroscience can contribute to framing and identifying the outcomes we want for children and young people in the 21st Century

Neuroscience has provided many insights into the brain - including an appreciation of the fallacies of some ‘neuro-myths’. Having dispelled these misleading perceptions, we shall explore a range of diverse examples of the ‘plasticity’ of the brain - namely its adaptability to the environment, and see how this personalisation of the physical brain through individual experience can be regarded as the basis of the individual ‘mind’. We shall then trace the development of the mind into adolescence and see how particular features of the physical brain can account for various characteristics in teenage behaviour, such as enhanced risk-taking. Finally we’ll review some of the features of the environment of the 21st Century that need to be taken into account as shaping the teenage mind in an unprecedented way. Only then can we minimise the threats and harness the opportunities for helping young people thrive at a time that is like no other in human history.

DAY 2: How modern technology impacts on the brains of children and young people. How social networking could be fundamentally changing the way children think, feel, empathise and act towards others

We currently have, at least in the western world, the longest ever life expectancy, the highest probability of good health, more leisure time than ever before and hence the greatest opportunity ever to develop as individuals and thus the
greatest opportunity for developing the human mind - especially the young mind, in the best ways possible.

We shall see what it is about the 21st Century environment that makes it so unique, and in particular what the benefits and problems may be of the impact on the young brain.

More specifically, we shall see

  • how social networking sites might affect empathy, notions of identity, interpersonal relationships;
  • how surfing and search engines may be changing the way we learn, think, and remember;
  • how video-gaming could be linked to attentional problems, aggression, and possible addiction.

We’ll explore how best to promote wellness in the young mind, perhaps through encouraging creativity. Finally parallels will be drawn between the wide sweep of these issues, ‘Mind Change’ with Climate Change, in that both are unprecedented, global, controversial and multi-faceted. However a big difference is that, whilst Climate Change is essentially an exercise in damage limitation, Mind Change presents wonderful opportunities for developing the individual mind as never before.

Berry Street was first established on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to their Elders, past and present, and to all the traditional custodians of land throughout Australia.