Susan Greenfield

This article is from 2008.

Susan Greenfield

Being proactive about identity

Short attention span? Inability to turn down chocolate biscuits? Memory of a long-term dope smoker? Susan Greenfield, the Oxford-based neuroscientist, is hoping to shed light on these problems and more, when she appears here to discuss her latest book. In ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century, she explores the effects that modern living is having on our brain. New technology has made communication quicker and more efficient, and ‘2D living’ side-steps a lot of old-fashioned hassle, but Greenfield is worried it could be slowly ruining certain mental functions at the same time.

‘I’m not a luddite,’ says the author and director of the Royal Institution in London. ‘I’m all for technology, but I wrote the book to empower readers with knowledge. I wanted to show them how to steer their brains, and be proactive about the identity they are creating for themselves.’ In an interview with the broadcaster Ruth Wishart, Greenfield will discuss the major problems she believes are on people’s minds just now. Hyperactivity in children, a rise in gambling, over-eating and cyber-romance are all discussed intelligently in her book, which uses years of scientific research to explain her concerns.

As we inch towards a thrill-seeking and instant gratification culture, she believes we may be losing the ability to think deeply and question things. ‘We are living in an era with unprecedented access to technology,’ she says. ‘But we need to realise we are not slaves to science or to technology. We can take steps to embrace creativity and forge our own identities.’

19 Aug, 1.30pm, £9 (£7).

Susan Greenfield

Neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield discusses how technology, politics and modernity threaten our individuality. And hopefully how to prevent it. 'Part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival'.

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