The question of 'how the brain works' is far too global and vague to have any meaning in terms of setting up specific experiments. What we need to do instead, is to tackle more specific questions which will in the end contribute to a finer understanding of this secretive mass of tissue in which is somehow locked the essence of our personalities.
The question we shall explore in this lecture arises from the most obvious feature of the brain; that it is made up of distinct compartments. Do each of these regions have a separate function and if so, what are they?
This is the first lecture in the series on Exploring the Brain.
Baroness (Susan) Greenfield CBE is a scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords. Professor Greenfield was the Gresham Professor of Physic between 1995 and 1999. Her area of special scientific interest is the physiology of the human brain, particularly Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Upon her appointment to the Physic chair at Gresham College, Professor Greenfield wrote the following:
"I shall use the Gresham appointment to advance the public's understanding of the brain. This subject holds an immediate fascination for virtually everyone, because it embraces a wide range of issues, at least one of which has touched most people's lives or fired a particular interest: infant development, use and abuse of drugs, strokes, schizophrenia, brain scans, and the physical basis of consciousness are all topics of immediate meaning to the general public. Although many people are intrigued by the brain, they have no means of discovering even the most basic and well established facts. The average person is discouraged by the plethora of specialist terminology which can so easily keep the brain as an inaccessible mystery. Although this mystery remains, even for those such as myself who have studied it for some twenty-five years, it is important for as many people as possible to appreciate the extent of what we do know."