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Keynote Speaker: Baroness Susan Greenfield

Janice Bell, Kidderminster and District

To say Baroness Susan Greenfield is an expert in her field is an understatement! She is a research scientist, author and broadcaster who has held research fellowships at Oxford, College de France and NYU Medical Centre and been awarded 32 honorary degree from a host of universities.

Baroness Susan’s specialism is neuroscience and we were treated to an unbelievably entertaining talk on the subject which informed and educated us about how the mind develops. What makes me the person I am? Was the question . How do we become unique? It’s partly to do with genes but that is not the whole story. Our experiences within our environment enables our brains to develop and for us to become individualised. As we have more of life’s experiences so our brain develops.

Baroness Susan gave us the example of a wedding ring. A child’s relationship with the ring will be a sensory, tactile one, later the child will realise it is a ring and can be worn on a finger, with time the meaning of the ring becomes affected by the young adult’s experience of relating the ring to getting married and then to her/his life when married. We learnt that associations and connections over time move beyond the sensory properties (face value). In Dementia, unfortunately, the reverse process happens.

Something to take from Baroness Susan’s talk was that multi-tasking is not good for our brain health. Sequential activities are better. Playing music, cooking from a recipe, walking, gardening and reading all help keep our brain synapses active.

We heard about work that she is undertaking with her new company NeuroBio on developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.

She left us with a message for the next generation by Rita Levi-Montaigne:
“Above all don’t fear different moments. The best come from them.”

A hopeful ending for all of us.

Delegates gave the Baroness a standing ovation having enjoyed a talk on a hugely difficult subject delivered with humour and simplicity.