Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
National Press Club -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) This Program is Captioned


Today at the National Press

Club, Baroness Susan

Greenfield, the world renowned

scientist was the first woman

to lead Britain's royal

institution. An expert on the

human brain, she's now

human brain, she's now based at

Oxford, investigating neuro de-Gentive disorders with the

National Press Club address,

Professor Baroness Susan


(Bell chimes). Ladies and

gentlemen, welcome to the

National Australia Bank National Press Club and today's

address. It is indeed a

Susan Greenfield here pleasure to welcome Baroness

Susan Greenfield here today.

She's all the things that

you've just heard in that

introduction and was director

of the Royal institution of

break until gran in year and she's also this year's

medallist of the Australian

society for medical research,

many of whose plebs here today,

I'm I'm very pleased to ask the chief executive officer

Warwickanceon to present that

medal to her. Thank you Ken

andly if somebody brings it up

because I left it on the table.

Look, it's a great pleasure and

honour for me to be asked by

the Australian society of

medical research to present the

medal. It's a wonderful

organisation, represents over

11,000 Australian health and medical researchers and it's

the peak body in this country

the peak body in this country

in advocacy, public, political

and scientific advocacy for the

important role of health and

medical research. The medals

are donated is given an youly

and is given to an eminent

local or international

scientist based on their

contribution to medical

research and their advocacy on

behalf of health and medical

research and it's hard to think

of a more worthy winner than

of a more worthy winner than

this year's medallist,

Professor Susan Greenfield. Who

you've heard is from Oxford

works on neuro degeneration

which is a matter to movie our

hearts and has played a

remarkable role in public

advocacy. She likes Australia,

because I've got a quote here

from her from 2008 where she

says something which I think is

true, that people in Australia

just get on with it and if they

believe in things, they get

them done and I think that is a

good description of Australian

health and medical research

with its many, many

achievements over many years.

So Susan, it gives me great

pleasure on behalf of the

society to award you this 2010

you. Congratulations. Thank medal Thank


Thank you very much and

congratulations Susan

Greenfield. Let me just finish

off that introduction, you've

Baroness Susan Greenfield was heard most of it already but

the first woman to head the royal institute of Great

Britain which of course now has

its first international

affiliate, the royal institute

of Australia based in Adelaide

which began operating last

year, late last year. And like

the famous average it intends

as many people in this audience

today today to promote better knowledge and informed debate

about the achievements and the

issues raised by science and

technology. She's also - I don't think we've actually

spelled out the details, did

kolg at you she's Professor of form

kolg at the university of

Oxford and leads a mutty

disciplinary team investigating

these neuro den Gentive orders

at the leading that there and

she's also director of the

Oxford centre for the science

of the mind which is getting

into the more obtuse areas of

her special ti. She's also

apart from that well known as a

radio and television presenter

and a best

and a best selling author.

Please welcome Susan

APPLAUSE Greenfield. Thank you.

. Well thank you very much Ken

and Warwick for that very

generous introduction. There's

one thing you missed however

and I'm very proud of this and

that is in 2006 I was voted the

honourablory Australian of that

year. So I truly feel - thank

you. I truly feel whenever

you. I truly feel whenever I

come here - and I come here

with increasing freessy that

I'ming can home and I'd like to

say how enormously flattered

and honoured I am to be given

this award because it feel it

krems even further if that were

possible my affection and

admiration for all of you who

live and work in our

Australians. What I'd like to

talk about this this brief

address is something that isn't

just dear to we scientists but

I think anyone who is a citizen

of the 21st century and that is

the issue we're facing as we

are ageing, as someone said,

yes ageing is a problem, but

the alternative is far worse.

And I think what we need to do

as we anticipate as we do more

than any other generation,

living for longer, is the

quality of life that we will be

leading a of course and that

inevitable meansior mind. What leading a of course and that

I want to do just to orientate

a bit or to give Australia

framework is to tell you one

story and three experiments.

Four weddings and a funeral. So

let's start first with the

story which I think will bring

home to you how very important and how have been very precious

your mind is, so we go back in

time when dinosaurs roamed the

earth almost, when I was a

student at Oxford, and imagine

if you will and forgive me

those of you are are scientists

and for whom this is an every

day experience and I hope this

doesn't put you off your food.

They come in, imagine if you

will you're in a laboratory and

they come in with these up

theer ware pots, OK, and you're

wearing surgical gloves because

in the pots there are

in the pots there are human

brains. And these human brains

are in a fixtive which is why

you're wearing the gloves and

you roll your sleeve up and put

your hand into the pot. And you

hold in one hand a human brain.

When I did this, I thought that

if I wasn't wearing gloves and

I got a bit under my finger

nail, would that be the bit

that somebody loved with? Or

would bit a memory a habit a

would bit a memory a habit a

hope, this is the story by the

way in case you're counting -

the story is therefore just to

think about how the essence of

you, what you're feeling and

thinking right now, I hope

you're not asleep, assuming

you're conscious, that however

close you are to the people at

your table, however articulate

you are as all you media,

no-one can get inside your head

and see world through your

eyes. Nor can you through them.

You can't have a first hand

perspective of the world from

someone else. Only you and for

100,000 year, no-one has had

that perspective that only you

have.Or somehow it comes down

to something that you can get

under your finger nails and

that's the story because it

brought home to me just how

very precious and special the

brain is as opposed to say the

brain is as opposed to say the

lungs or the heart or the liver

which are as we all know

transplanted with increasing facility when they're diseased

but as yet we await anyone

having a brain transplant, I

don't think anyone would want

one. You might volunteer others

for one but if that was

possible - want one yourself!

So this brings home to you I

hope in this little story just

how important the brain is

because it is the essence of

you. It is what makes you the

person you are and no-one has

had a brain like yours for

100,000 years and nor will they

ever again and therefore when

we're looking at the ageing

population as we are getting

much better in advancing with

heart disease and with cancers,

we are now facing the spectre

of di meanta, that is to say a

disease of older people and in

the UK for example I've got the

figures here, there's 700,000

people who are her already

victim to this disease and by

2021 it's going to rise to just

under a mall. Here in

Australia, it's currently

245,000, rising to over a

million by 20 50 and by the 20

60s and I'm adretionz

politicians here, the

expenditure for caring and trying to

trying to treat these disorder

will exceed those of all other

conditions so even if you're

not convinced as you must be of

the humanitarian need, the

quality of life issue for

really prioritising combatting

these disorders then surely

will is also the economic

argument too. So let's think

about how we can approach this

terrible issue. And this is the

other three experiments and I'll start first with the

I'll start first with the first

experiment that illustrates I

think just how sensitive your

brain is to the environment and

how it can become the essence

of you if you like your mind.

This is an experiment by

someone calls Pascall Leonie

and it involved three group of

adult human volunteers none of

whom could play the piano. Now,

if by any chance you ever get

to volunteer for such

to volunteer for such an experiment let me give you a

ward of advice - don't be in

the control group. Because the

control group for five days

just had to stare at a piano.

Perhaps you might like to do

that, time out, relax a bi. The

second group however had much

more fun, they learnt five

finger piano exercises. And

there was a third group that were the most

were the most surprising of au.

When the experimenters lookeded

at the brain scans of these

three groups they found perhaps

sadly but predictably that the

control group had just stared

at the piano, their brain scans

were literally unimpressed.

Nothing had happened. However,

the people that had learnt five

finger piano exercising even

after five days amazingly there

was an astonishing change in

the brain scans, the areas

relating to the dingits were

much much larger over the five

days but more remarkable still,

were the third group. This

group had merely had to imagine

they were playing the piano.

And their scans were almost the

same as those who had

physically played it. What does

this tell us? First I think

this old tired notion of mental

versus physical of mind versus brain, as

brain, as if people like me are

kind of consigned to the

squalor of the physical brain

whereas others go around in some rarefied world talking

about mental events and emotion

and so on and the two don't mix

and of course they do. The

other is it tellous the

important thing as far as the

brain is concerned, is not the

actual contraction of the

muscle but the thought that is

preseeded it and the man

preseeded it and the man who

developedal doper therapy a

treatment still used today back

in the 60s he said, "Thinking

can movement, confined to the brain." Interesting thought

which I'll leave you with. Now

what this illustrates is what

we in the business call

plasitiesity, not meaning of

course that the brain is plastic but from

plastic but from the geek to be

moulded because it shows how

sensitive the brain is not just

to the external environment but

to anything that happens or

that you are making happen.

What's exciting about this

plasitiesity is we're laerng

much more about it in brain

research and if you like it

distinguishes us as a species

as particularly special. Other

species have brains that adapt

but we do it fantastically. We don't run particularly

don't run particularly fast, we

don't see particularly well,

we're not particularly strong

compared to other species in

the animal kingdom but heavens

what we do much better than

they that is we learn. So I

like to make comparisons with

the gold fish and I don't know

if anyone is a gold fish fan

here. Gold fish doesn't have

great personalities do they?

And one day I'll say that and

someone will come up and fess

up that they've got a gene use

gold fish but on the whole if

you had a gold fish and it died

you could sneak uf to the pet

fish and buy another one so by

the time your kids came home

they wouldn't know any

different. You count do that

with pet Cats or dogs or with

their brothers and sisters,

because the brapt thing is as

the brain becomes more

sophisticated so you shift,

this is the exciting thing, so

you 35 from

you 35 from the narrow instinct

that dictates of the gene, the

rigidster yore type repatory

such as the poor old god fish

to the much rich ever repatory

of as we get much more

sophisticated a cox plex

culminating in us to the idea

that you're shifting from the

dictate of the genes to an

adaptation to the environment.

And guess what? If you have

individual experiences, guess

what happens? You become an

individual. We know how this

happens now. We know that if

you make cells brain cells work

hard, they're rather like

muscles, they will get stronger

and become more effective and

efficient but the way they grow

is not zwrous get big like a

muscle gets big. If it's made

to work hard, if it's active,

is it grows these lovely

branchs, now, you might wonder

what's the point of growing

branchs apart from that, but if

you're doing that you're

increasing the surface area of

the cell and that means you can

be an easier target to other

brain cell connection coming

in. So we can trace a link, a stimulating interactive

environment or doing certain

thing in a certain way will

make certain brain

make certain brain cells active

which in turn will make them

grow branchs in which in turp

increasing their surface area

which in turn enables them to

make more connections. So you

can see that as you are

growing, this is what is

happening to your life, you're

born in the words of the great

psychologist William James in

into a booming buzzing

confusion and you evaluate the

world in term of raw sensation, what other

what other choice is you got.

But gradually, a visual pattern

al beit an abstract one if it

occurs always at the same time

and probably accompanied by

certain sounds say a voice,

smell, texture, let's say your

mother gradually that

conglomeration of's while

abstract senses, will cause you

to shift from a pure sensory

evaluation to what we call a

cog tifr one, from the Latin

cog it o I think. So you're

starting to shift from a bomb

bartment of raw senses that do

not mean anything into a world

that starts so mean something

because you're able to see it

in terms of what you have

experienced already. So you

start off as a one-way street

where you're the passive

recipient of raw senses coming

in but gradually as the

connections adapt to you and

your you alone, even the clone,

will not be able having those

same experiences, so therefore

you become a two-way street and

what will happen is these raw

things coming in, these

experiences, can now be

interpreted, you'll understand

them, they will have a

significance to you that they

don't have to someone else and

at the same time incidentally they lob will

they lob will be modifying the

connection as they go along.

What we're looking at here is a

most marvellous dialogue

between your brain and the

outside world that continues

till you die and that makes you

the unook and special person

that you are. So far so good F

we talk about this being the

mind, the personsation of the

brain, then you can see what

makes you different from the

person sitting next to you now. But

But now let's think of phrases

like blowing the mind or sadly,

losing the mind. Of course, you

can temporarily disable those

connections by people that take

drugs or putting yourself in a

situation that is strip of all

cog tifr content, tech know,

tech know, where you just have

flashing lights and so on and

people do this, wine woman and

song, drugs and sem and

rock'n'roll are always ways in which we can literally which we can literally left

ourself go and have a

sensational time. You never

say, "Right tonight we're going

to have a cog tifr time." - cog

tifr time. But sadly, there's

other ways, more permanent once

where one does actually

recapitulate that booming

buzzing confusion that shift

from the cognitive back to the

sensory, and I'm talking of sensory, and I'm talking of

course about di meanta where

what happens is there is an

atrophy, a loss of those

branchs and thenby a

dismantling of the connections

and you can manage that what

happens then that if you are dismantling those connection

you are removing the checks and

balances that you've so

carefully nurt youed, so

carefully grown and you

actually retrace back again to

being like a child. being like a child. And anyone

here whose lives have been

ravaged and it would be that by

caring or loving someone the

victim of di meanta would know

that what happens is slowly the

person gets more confused and

disorientated because they not

understand why the same

ability, the same mechanisms

that were available to them

when they were healthy, because

they are retration if you like

the steps back into a world, a

world of the booming world of the booming buzzing

confusion. So the first

experiment then was the one

with the piano playing which I

hope illustrates to you the

sensitivity of your brain and

just how special you are. The

second experiment I highlight

concerns the input from the

genes. I should do a huge

health warning for everyone

listening or watching, I can

not obviously in this short

time give an exhaustive review of all the approaches of all the approaches the

dementia. There are some

marvellous approaches that hold

great promise but which I am

unable to cover this afternoon

but I want to flag one

particular high light

experiment that I think is

another classic ex-Peter that

really does make you think.

That does concern the role of

the genes. Most people who are the genes. Most people who are

not in the business tend to

think nowadays if - that you

have the gene for this or that

and I sadly seem to be missing

the gene for good house keeping

and I've clearly got the

shopping gene. I also don't

have is gene for cooking or

singing or whatever, but

people's literally do believe

this sometime, the way that

because of the wonderful

advance of mapping of the human

genome, that we are facing a time when you'll time when you'll have a gene

for this and that, sadly that's

not the case. And even - this

is the second experiment - even

when there is a very close

relationship which is quite

rare, in terms of brain

disease, between a single rogue

gene and an aberration, a

dysfunction, even then you can

see it's not easy as as

straightforward or as direct as

you might think. This

experiment was by van dellen

some ten years ago and they

explored in mice a condition of

hunt hungtton's disease which

used to be known as

huntington's career a disease

that characters in late middle

age by wild and voluntary

flinging of the limbs in a...

What one is able to What one is able to do nowadays

is modify the gene of the mice

so that they were destin ed to

have the mice equivalent of

that and the impact of that

could be measured by looking at

little movement tasks where as

normally the mice would age so

the movements would get worse

and they'd get a score. Why?

The whole point was - this is

why it's so fascinating - they

wanted to see the impact of the

environment nonetheless. They environment nonetheless. They

took one group of mice again

the controls, you always have

control, these mice were not

tamper with any any way. The

second group did have their

genes modified so they thald

would move worse and worse,

they'd have the mouse

equivalent of Huntington's

career but they also took mice

who has been similarly modified

and they gave them a different environments they gave them what was

what was cause called an

enriched environment and that

done mean to say they come to National Press Club. That's

little ladders and wheel and

interaction and little toys to

play with. Yet, they found that

when you did that, the age of

on set of the condition was

much delayed and the degree of

impairment was much more modest in these

in these mice so I'm not saying

that genes are important. They are necessary but not

sufficient for explaining brain

function or dysfunction. They

have a highly interactive and

complex role that they play and

for alz I'm ear's said there -

Alzheimer's there's not one

single gene that gives you it.

Genes are important and many people are doing very worthwhile and worthwhile and exciting ex-Petering trying to

disentangle the interaction but

we have to look beyond mere lay

gene if we are I think to make

progress and what I want to end

with is the third experiment

which is perhaps not

surprisingly given I have the

privilege of standing here, to

tell you a bit about the work

in progress in my own

laboratory where I do what we

call anticipatory therapy and

that would be - this is a dream

but this is the goal but this is the goal we'd like

- it's in two phases. Like

perhaps many dreams you try and

have two for the price of one

so really it's two trooem dream

soxs dream one is you could go

to the doctor for a routine

blood test, rather like you

might go for a screening for

cholesterol or something like

that, and there is a available

a marker that actually

registers that you are about to

get neuro degeneration in a get neuro degeneration in a

year or two even before the

symptoms have come on. Now that

sounds a bit unexciting or bit

sad in a way but it might help

arguably people to plan ahead,

it would certainly help with

clinical trials and we know

that if you do start people on

medication early it can slow

things down even with existing

medication so that in and of

itself would be something that

would be a worthwhile advance would be a worthwhile advance

and many people are working on

that ourself included. The

second dream, another independent one, would be that

although one doesn't have a

cure, for Alzheimer's disease

you can at least stop anymore

cells dying and imagine again

someone going to the doctor and

saying you have memory problem,

you're disorientated and

confused but take medication

every day for the rest every day for the rest of your

life or perhaps a nasal spray

but then no further cells will

die. You won't get any worse.

That again I'm sure, those of you familiar with the current

rather dismal clinical picture

would know that this actually

would be a gain, a huge

advance. Now put those two

things together, imagine being

act to go to your GP and they

say, "Well actually there's bad

news and good,. The bad news is you

you have an elevated marker in

your blood even there's no

symptoms at the moment and if

it goes untreated then in a

year or two, then you could be

sadly about to get a Alzheimer's disease. However,

the good news is we now have a

medication that stops anymore

cells dying so start taking

this medication right now and the symptom also never come

on." Now that is the dream and

I do suggest very strongly it's a dream still but a dream still but what we're

cog in my lab is we believe

we've identified a molecule

that could be important, it

could be one of the prime

mechanisms, the release of this

molecule and its action in the

cells that are particularly

vulnerable in. We've also

identified a particular target

so at least in a dish we can

prevent the cells dying when we

block the targets for

block the targets for this evil

molecule. It's far cry from

what you do in the lab to what

you translate through to

medication, but every journey

starts with a simple step and

we believe and we're excited

that this approach could be one

that wouldn't involve complex

ethical or controversy issues

or expensive brain surgery, it

could be one that could be

rolled out in we could get it

to work,

to work, if indeed we can prove

the concept that we are

exploring at the moment. But

that's what science is all

about. It's about actually

having a new idea. And even if

we are in our specific example

eventually proven not to be

correct and who know, then at

least that is a strategy I would advocate as something

that could be a way forward for

combatting in terrible disease.

It is a terrible disease and in

Australia and again I speak to

the politicians here, did you

know this doesn't make your

heart sink when people say did

you know because it's a way of

interviewing a fact, did you

know that delaying the onset of

di meanta by five years in Australia would have the

potential to save, get this,

67.5 billion dollars by 2040.

I'll repeat that. It is I'll repeat that. It is quite

dramatic. So how can this not

be a totally high priority for

medical research, indeed for

all of us who are citizen of

the 21st century who want not

just a healthy body but an able

and clear mind to enjoy living

in the 21st century. I think

there's four crucial take home

messages that are needed here.

Inevitably the first one is

money. Research costs money.

But we scientists are quite

cheap to run in terms of

personal salary, but

nonetheless the research we do

is expensive. And you do need

to have the courage to invest

in new ideas to let 1,000

flowers bloom. If there was a

very clear and obvious approach

to clearing Alzheimer's don't

you think we would have done

that already? Syme we do suffer

by a certain risk averse

attitude that is sometimes counterproductive. Second,

something very close to my

heart f you want to maximise good research and potential it

is a no brainer to

disenfranchise 50% of thele the

yaent. That's what happens

currently for women in science

where because inevitably many

may wish to start families at a

time when they don't have

tenure, they are hugely

disadvantaged and until we put

time and money into thinking about how

about how to level the playing

field for women in science lit

carry on that we are wasting

talent and we are not acting to

recruit the score girl z. I

can't emphasise now enough how

we cannot take it as given. It

won't be unless we really care

and show that we care. The next

and third point I would address

to the scientific community to the scientific community

that it's all very well, to

being in our ivory tower, to be

laughed t, to be a

dysfunctional nertd and to pull

up a draw bridge and just talk

to each other in words that

only one man and a dog can

understand. And to look down

your noses at everyone else

even if they're paying you

which is what has happened.

Increasingly as science has

becoming central to becoming central to society,

wonderful quote from an

astronomer, it's suicide to

live in a society dependent on

science and technology where

no-one knows anything about

science and technology. A plea

to my colleagues - it is no

longerer good enough just to

worry about your grant and your

teaching load. And whether

someone has a bigger lab than

you next door. It's not good

enough . You now have to be at

the centre of society because

science is now at the science is now at the centre of

society. You have to

communicate with the press,

because they will then lobby

the politicians, it will go up

in public manifesto and

therefore we'll get more money

anyway. Finally, we have to

think about the next

generation. If we are living in

a society where we're talking

about climate change and GM

foods and not to mention the

medical problems we need as

many kids as possible not many kids as possible not just

knowing what a gene is, not

just being stierfg literate but

we need to be out there and

becoming scientists if even if

they're not going into to be at

the bench. They can be in other

sectors because they need

stierfgally lit ril people.

That will only happen if we

really think through science

education, talking to the next

generation and bo all, making

the 21st century therefore something something that's going to be

really exciting, wonderful time

to be alive. Thank you very much. APPLAUSE

Thank you very much Professor

Greenfield. We've a period of

media questions now. I've

media questions now. I've got a

two part question about a

mobile phones brains and the

media. Last month, we saw the

interphone study come out which

was mooted to be one of the

largest studies of empirical

studies of the potential

effects of mobile phone use on

brain cancer particularly. I

got embargoed advice of this and

and so when I opened the papers

and looked on net news sites

the next morning I was amused

to find a range of stories from

use mog bile phones causes

brain cancer to using mobile

phones doesn't cause brain

cancer. I'm interested in your

take or your current views on

the effect of mobile phone the effect of mobile phone use

on brain health, but also this

as a kind of work shop of

science and the media

interacting, those are my two

disgles let's break that into

the two. It's a bit like a

dream. Let's do the specific

one. I think the most cautious

point I can make and one that

is very important, and it's

hard to convey hard to convey this but that is

that ABS sense of evidence

isn't evidence of absence. And

quite often, because how could

I for example prove that there

wasn't a tea pot in orbit

around Mars. I could never do

that. This is the issue for

example with mobile phones. If

you come up withing metivings

in that a study hasn't caused

something, it means that in

that study they can't see

evidence for it. So what I found

found very interesting, and

this does widen out to how the

media treats stories and this

was certainly with GM foods

coming from the country where

there was great scares on GM

food, people would say they're

not going to eat them until

someone proves it's safe. I

will use my mobile phone until

someone prove it's dangerous

thrmpl are elements that are

necessarily logical or

consistent or stierfg, but they consistent or stierfg, but they are very important elements nonetheless and basically

what's in it for me? Eating GM

foods what do I gain from it

when I can get other foods...

My mobile phone, I get a lot

from that so farce I understand

the jury is still out in terms

of a categorical answer but it

is bedeviled by those kinds of

issues that the general public,

your viewers, might find it

hard to understand because the way science

way science is done you can

only Professor something that

is positive, not negative. That

widens out into how the media

street scientists and here we

have a kind of clash of

tectonic plates and both sides

need to come forward a bit and

I think the issue is the agenda

is different. For a scientist,

the main thing they want is

money, because that len able

them to do their research, if

they don't have money they

can't be scientists. If you

don't have a grant you can't do

don't have a grant you can't do expeempltsings, right? Their

time sail is over years,

ideally you want several years

in order to explore. I don't

know, mobile phones for example

how long that study took. If

you're a journalist, what you

want otherwise, lots of readers

and viewers, different agenda

and your time scale is what -

in my experience on a good day

about half an hour. You can see

how these two cultures are not

going to automatically get going to automatically get on

with each other or understand

each other and I think the

mistake comes is the scientists

assumes that this journalist

shares their agenda they they

want to know about truth and

therefore they will use... If

and the journalist says I can't

give a stuff about that, I want

to sell my story. I want a definitive answer, why can't

you tell me that you tell me that you boring

scientist. Why aren't you

telling me yes or no. I do want

these shades of grey, I want

the relenter. You can see how

the scientist really do need

media training and that's why

I'm so delighted to have been

part of the organisation in

Adelaide. Scientists are

prepared to speak in words that people can understand rather

than fluffing around sitting on

the fence in that

the fence in that way but by

the same tobaccoon ru

journalists have to realise

it's no good demonising as

dysfunctional nerds. We do need

to have our story properly told

rather than told bluntly, so

that the nuances and the

conditional components do get

across to people. So I think it

really does require for evident

on both sides to do this in

order to serve the reader or

the taxpayer paying us. Amounts the taxpayer paying us. Amounts

to the same individual. They

have to be properly served by

us and in the past it's they

who have been the victim of the

storo typing and the culture

clashes that existed. I was

interested in what you were

saying about the experiments

about the piano for example and

we're often told if you want to

stave off di meanta or Alzheimer's detective Alzheimer's detective cognitively busy, what advice

would you give to people in

that regard and the second part

of my question is - you know,

diseases of the mind are things

people often just don't want to

think about. How difficult is

that to engage the general

public with and to engage

politicians to provide funding

when it's something they just

really not - rather think about

at all Let me do that question

- even's got questions in two - even's got questions in two

parts. I'll take the second

part first because I think that

that's - when I was growing up

I'm a baby boomer generation,

and cancer was then the great

spectre and my mother and she

wasn't atypical, she wouldn't

even athe word cancer, she'd

say the C word in case it gave

you cancer. Such was the fear

in those days and look how

things have changed now. Cancer of

of course is still a very serious condition but as we

know, you can have cure, people

can go into remission, we know

a lot more about diagnosis and

prevention so people can say

the word without the fear that

it used to evoke. I think that

Alzheimer's is like that F

people say it even you're going

to give it to yourself and

people don't like acknowledging

it. That's why I do applaud, I

don't know if you know the don't know if you know the

British writer Terry prach art.

He has Alzheimer's and he

appears raegly in the press bro

moating the important of

research into Alzheimer's, he

has put pun into this and I

applaud him, because the more

people that have you evering or

the more careers perhaps who

are able to talk about it and

talk to people about it, the

more lit come centre to the

agenda. I think that we can't

pretend that it's pretend that it's not there. It

is something that is so devastating because heard

disease and cans rer serious

but you're still the person you

were and I think the reason

that all of us shudder at the

thought of dementia, the loss

of mind, is it's the less of

you and your individuality and

that's why the more we can talk

about it, think about it and

put money into the research

into this, otherwise we will

stay as we are stay as we are even freightened

to say the word. In terms of cognitive exercise, there's

another thought as well.

There's some brilliant work by

someone called Rusty Gauge in

the States who has shown that

physical exercise can help as

well. That stands to reason if

you think about t it because

the more you have a good blood

supply going to your brain, the

more oxygen and that has to be

good news for the brain cells and he's shown that certainly

in mature rats as well as in

human subjects, that you have

futuro genesis, the growth of

new brain cells in certain

rates when they exercise quite extensively. It's something

that we all sneakly know or we

don't like to scrad mitt it The

more sport and exercise you can

do, this has to be good. It has

to be good for your brain and

your body if you can exercise properly, properly, also aleave aets

depression along the way. In

tomps cognitive exercise, ours involve once looking at

software for older people that

actually gave them certain

tasks to do and although that

may or may not beneficial it's

very hard to brov because you

have to have the right control

groups and it's hard to have

the same person not doing

something and doing it at the same time. My own view now is

that no-one likes to work hard

that no-one likes to work hard

at doing exercises, and for

example I lived in France for a

year, and found that when I was

learning French as I had to do

within the first week, that

your brain does feel it's been

to the gym when you learn

another language so my

particular advice would be it's

great fun learning another

language because it's socially

useful, you can see your

performance hopefully

increasing and it's fund to do and it really and it really does exercise

your brain. My main aslice

would be you should really do

what you enjoy doing because

you'll enjoy doing it. Whether

it's doing computer games

because I have other thought os

than withdown people finishing

you're an older people and you

are at home, you're by

yourself, you're not very

mobile, clearly it would be a

preferred activity to just watching the television to

doing something interactive,

something that you know something that you know

stretches your brain can only

be a good thing but on the

other hand we have to be car

Kerrfuls that not going to

guarantee you don't get it look

at Iri circumstances Murdoch

who clearly used her brain all

the time and was numb the

victim. All you can do is do

your best and make your

principal and body work hard is

doing your pirs. It's living

life after all. Having life after all. Having

arguments is good as well I

think. I might have an argument

too now. I like to also ask a

two part question so please

forgive me. The first question

is if we can find a quur for

dementia, how long could humans

possibly live for maybe during the

the next century, what could

life span be and part two of

the que, I hope these questions

aren't too convoluted, you said

that there's no one gene which

causes dementia or Alzheimer's

if that's no one gene causing

dementia does that mean finding

a cure for this debilitating

illness is harder than we

thought originally? So let me -

I think this is a test of my cognitive skills to see if I cognitive skills to see if I

can remember the two things.

People have debated long and

hard about expanding the

longevity of people and I think

what we must anticipate in this

century is not so much that

we're going to live to be 200

years old, but that more

people, more people, will live

let's say to be 1 #4u7b which

is the normal span. There's

lots of studies going on in

terms of trying to enhance longevity longevity and this has been

done either on flute fly s or

indeed rather interesting idea

of restricting calories in

mice. You may be aware of this

where one where putting mice on

a very restricted calories

seemed toenceness thattary life

but I think that no-one would

want to do this because they

did stop copulating when they

did this. There is perhaps a

high price to pay. I high price to pay. I don't

know, interesting question,

whether you'd like to cothis or

not. You get very tin you're

hungry all the time and you

don't have a love life, but you

do live a long time. Because

there is also emare experiments

on so-called the shoe lace ends

of the chromosomes and people

have found that these have found that these detierate

apart from in egg sperm and

stem cells and cancer cells and

to try and make orld cells not

have this deterioration might

also be very, very helpful. But

the issue I think with

longevity is not so much how

many more years and let's hope

that more people live to be 100

is what do we do with this

time? Think about it. If you

have children by the time

you're in your 50s or 50 or so, at the moment, that would at the moment, that would give

you decades more of life. And

in our privileged society here

in the western world,

paradoxically, science and

technology and biomedical

services delivering us more

time, than any other

generations has had and more

decades of life but no-one is

actually addressing the

question, - what do we do with

that time? Do we just play computer

computer games? What do we do

with our lives? That's a really

important issue so address for

all of us as a society if

indeed we are creating a

society thanks to science and

technology where we are truly

living longer. With regards to

gene, issue, your question had

the tacit assumption that a

cure could only come if we knew

the gene, if we manipulated the gene. There was a gene. There was a great phase

in the 90s where people thought

if you did discover the gene

for or that everything else

would be plain sailing

forgetting that you had to

access all the genetic material

in all cells and fls now wanted

to target the egg or sperm and

immortalise the condition you

would have a real problem try

gain access to modify. It gene

therapy, hasn't necessarily been as rapid

been as rapid and as fast as

people originally anticipated.

My own view is that genes are

like spark plugs in cars. If

they go wrong you'll have a bad

condition but there is more to

a car than a spark plug and

what qulouf to look at is the

whole context. My view is that

other thing can happen. My own

particular theory is that the

cells that are

cells that are vulnerable in

Alzheimer's or Parkinsons so

you can often the get the twoz

a a co-pathology, they have

special features means if the

brain is damaged, here, they

will shoot themselves in the

foot and try and grow again and

in so doing bring into play

neck niches that are toxic and

I could do into more detail if

you like but therefore the cure

would be to would be to intercept that

process, which would not

involve mod fig genes and my

own view is that in the future,

the most immediate and

effective way would be to get

an oral or nasal spray

medication, accompanied by a

presymptomatic blood test

rather than doing anything that

was very expensive or ethically

questionable or technological

full of wizardry but hard to do

and that could be a way and that could be a way forward

especially if it is a mechanism

of abhorrent development, this

is into the future f one

couldn't just stabilise but

could make them like young

cells again so they grew again.

I think that would be good.S

That in the future. I'm aware

that on the report saying this.

Please don't sea Baroness says

cure for aldz I'm ear east

tomorrow because people's hopes are raised

are raised in a very cruel way

if you say that. Just a follow

on - I will break from

tradition and ask you you a

one-part question. Clearly, in

Australia there has been a

robust debate in the last

decade or so about the ageing

of the population, but it

essentially poil boils down at political levels to the extra

costs that will impose on future

future generations, we've had intergenerational report. The

debate is about the punitive

effects of the aiming of the

population. It seems to me that

there's wonderful advancements

and benefits for society so I

want to ask you a question - is

it time to shape a populist

campaign to start talking about

some of these benefits, how

would you go about it, if you

were a full-time resident in

Australia, I'm trying to shape something

something that talks about the

positive effects of the ageing

of the population, rather than

just the negative effects which

is essentially what dominates

the political debate? Thank you

for that. This is what I'd do.

Thank you for that lovely

question and especially the

fact it was only one question

rather than two. Tax my memory.

I think there's various take

home messages that I would say.

The first - and this is a very

important one -

important one - is Alzheimer's

is not a natural consequence of

ageing. It's a disease of older

people. And the two things are

not the same. That's the first

take home message. The second

thing is that we should think

about ways of making our lives

very exciting as we are getting

older, traditionally people

think that it's all downhill,

but in this new 21st century

where you are looking at decades more,

decades more, of life, already

the British Government are

raising the pension age for

economic reasons but I think

soon they'll latch on to tell

you it's good for you to work

probably. If one can get home

to people this phenomenon of

plasities Tiwi when whenever I

talk to people about astonishes

them but it seems very obvious

that you're adopting and changing and you're changing and you're not the

same person you were six months

or a year ago and that you're

evolving all the time as a

result of living your life,

going through your unique space

in time narrative that we

callory life story, that as

that is happening your brain is

getting more and more

individualised. When you start

off when you're born, you are a

citizen of the world. I love

that phrase. But according to that phrase. But according to

turlt, the society, the family,

the experiences you have,

slowly you become an individual. Slowly you develop

a mind and you are growing,

you're developing your mind and

if people realise that while

even dare I say it here where

everyone is so keen on sport

and exercise, even though it's

good for you of course the body

does get baggy and saggy and

wrinkly but your brain,

wrinkly but your brain, does

get like that. As it gets older

it becomes special, more

individual, which is why in

other societies, quite

understandably, and correctly,

older people have a rev eps,

people actually respect older

people because of their iz

wisdom. You never talk about a

wise child but you talk about

wise older people. I would love

to see a revival of to see a revival of the

rerevance for the white beard.

For people who have lived their

lives and shared something for

wisdom. Nothing substitutes for

experience and wisdom. It

picture be that you have very

aguile brain, learning to

drive, you might learn to drive

faster than someone older that

doesn't mean to say you're a

better driver. It's using

experience to evaluate what

happens happening and if we can

get that across to

get that across to people, that

it doesn't matter that you have

a few wrinkles or stiffer

moving what usually matters is

that you've lived a life and I think that would be a wonderful

message to get across. I want

to pick up on the theme raised

in Steve Lewis's question, also

a point that Peter made when he

made the point that this is something we don't really want to think about and to think about and therefore

the politicians may not want to

think about. In your position

your access to the political

class, the decisionmakers and

I'm just wondering how you see

their mind set at the moment

because in terms of the figures

you quoted for Australia, 67.5

billion was the figure we could

save over a period of time ,

2040 if we just delayed the

onset for five years of Alzheimer's. That's a strong argument but

argument but it seems to in a

more important argument is the

equity issue, the social

obligation, do you get a sense that politicians, not necessarily here because I

don't know how much you deal

with them but in the UK, are if

you like more like - are they

closer to accepting that

argument, you've made your

pitch for the expenditure but

is there in fact an attitude

that says yes this is something we really need to we really need to to deal

with? That's a difficult

question, it's a by like how

long is a piece of string

because if you ask any

politician it's a bit like

motherhood and apple pie. Of

course we have to put money to

it. Of course we must do this

but ten then look at the

priorities and you find that

science is very rarely

mentioned in the Queens speech

for example. We had a debate

recently in the Lord's on the recently in the Lord's on the

cuts to universities that krurg

and that's because I'd

forgotten to mention

politicians as the third group.

If we talk about the difference

in agenda and time span of the

immediate ya and the scientist

we can now introduce the

politician. Their agenda is to

stay in power otherwise they

wouldn't be politicians and

they do that by delivering to

the public what they need the

public need or want so the

issue is how much they perceive

the public as really caring and my own

my own view is that perhaps

it's not as high on the view in

terms of perintading the

political mind to get down and

do thing. Certainly, when I did

a report for the Government in

2002 on women in science, very

little money was voted in for

helping women return after

they'd had children and thapg

you have to put your money

where your mouth is and any

politician will agree with what

I've said - I think that the

amount of money involved might

seem too much, in terms of

public opinion, carried to

other things, the time scale

might be too long, if we're

talking about science research,

it might all seem a bit too

uncertain investing in research

means you're not going to get

necessarily an immediate result

straight away, as you might

with other things, and

therefore you might look ascans

slightly at these things, so

it's a similar important point

and I think rather like we were

talking about generally, I

think it would be very nice if

the public could engage with

politicians and scientists a

one could start to look at the

issues and really make them

happy rather than just talking

about making them happen. I

wonder if we could go to the

area, I don't think you really

wanted to talk about because I've run out I've run out of subjects to ask

you about what you spoke about,

that is the impact of

information technology

screen-based information,

texting, the whole, you know,

iPads and iPods and this, that

and the other. Is there a sort

of a physically measurable knew

logical impact that is

happening to us as a result of

this do you think? I'm this do you think? I'm very

happy to talk bt about it,

just that I thought people were

expecting me to talk about Alzheimer's. Now you've led me

by the hand away it from.

That's fine. I'm more than

happy to talk about it. If

you're working with human, the

only way you can really

evaluate what's happening is by

how their behave or you can

look at trends in society or

perhaps look at brain scans but

no-one would want to put a

healthy child who don't have a clinical need I don't think

into a scanner because that

could be distresses for them

and in any event hard to

interpret the data because the

time scale over which brain

scans work are several seconds,

they're analgous therefore to Victorian photographs you you

see steady states but you can't

see dynamic processes. You

could see the buildings but not the people the people moving around.

They're brilliant for clinical

purposes but for traying to

capture freeze frame moment of

thinking, is much hearder so in

terms of knew logical evidence,

that is harder to obtain, on

the other han