Pioneering neurogenesis researcher and professor of psychology at Princeton University, Professor Elizabeth Gould comes to the RSA to discuss how experience literally shapes and alters the physical structure of the brain.
The realisation that the surroundings and environments of mammals not only influence their emotional well-being, but also the neuronal constitution of their brains, is one of the most momentous discoveries of modern psychology and neuroscience. Gould’s research shows how stressful experiences in both early and adult life inhibit the survival of existing neurons and the creation of new ones, and has demonstrated that enriched environments and societies result in marked increases in neuron production. This breakthrough has profound and dramatic implications for social progress and understanding, and can add to our appreciation of the impact of poverty, social exclusion and stress on individuals and communities.
Does increased social activity and interaction boost the creation of new neurons, and if so, how? How do these discoveries relate to memory and learning? What are the links between neurogenesis, brain plasticity and mental wellbeing?