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Goldfish don’t do this!

June 11, 2010

Susan Greenfield

Professor Susan Greenfield is in Australia at the moment. She is a world leader in the area of neuroscience, an author, and a life peer. She was “Thinker in Residence” for the South Australian Government in 2004/5 and is currently Director of the Oxford Centre for the Mind U.K. She is the  2010 medalist for the Australian Society for Medical Research. I really like her approach…she thinks it’s  important to talk to the media, to talk to the private sector, to talk to politicians, to talk to educationalists and really to contribute to the mainstream of life as it’s lived right now in the 21st century. She says “Science is touching everything we do.”

You are always evolving!

She says, “Think about it, you’re not the same person you were an hour ago…you’re evolving all the time. You’re changing. This is the fantastic thing about the brain – you’re always evolving.  Your brain connections are changing just very slightly. If you were the same person, if you were identical, you would always have the same consciousness.”

(The same over and over again…..think about it…….it would be  “Groundhog Day “for the brain….)

“What drives the brain anyway? What is it that keeps all the brain cells stimulated and changing? It’s the constant interaction with the environment. And the most brilliant thing about being born a human being is that we are brilliant at responding and adapting to our environment. So gradually you’re personalising your brain by the experience you’re having. You evaluate the world in terms of what you’ve experienced already. So gradually the world gathers a meaning, a significance to you. Sometimes it’s a highly personal meaning, something that means something to you, but not to others, because there’s these wonderful connections.”

Now, goldfish don’t do this.

“No, goldfish don’t do this because they live out this genetic imperative. They obey instinct. Whereas if you’re a human being, you have this leisurely childhood and you learn, but human beings at all ages can learn. And over the years we develop a unique personality because our individual brains have had individual experiences. Every moment you are alive these experiences will leave their mark on the connections between your brain cells.”

So, as I write, my experience is more and more about understanding the potential of the brain’s plasticity. This experience will leave its mark on the connections between my brain cells, and according to current scientific research these new experiences will help ward off decline.

Susan Greenfield has recently expressed concerns that modern technology, and in particular social networking sites, may have a negative impact on child development.

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