In this lecture delivered by Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore the research she has established will be discussed on the development of the human brain in the adolescent stage of life.
6pm Arrival tea and coffee
Social cognitive processes involved in navigating an increasingly complex social world continue to develop throughout human adolescence. Adolescence is a period of life often characterised by behaviours that, prima facie, are irrational, such as seemingly excessive risk-taking and impulsivity. However, these behaviours can be interpreted as adaptive and rational if one considers that a key developmental goal of this period of life is to mature into an independent adult in the context of a social world that is unstable and changing. In the past twenty years, neuroscience research has shown that the human brain develops both structurally and functionally during adolescence. Areas of the social brain undergo significant reorganization during the second decade of life, which might reflect a sensitive period for adapting to the social environment. The findings from cognitive neuroscience suggest that adolescence represents a period of both vulnerability (to mental illness) and opportunity (for intervention), and have implications for education and public health.
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. She is Leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group and Deputy Director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Her group's research focuses on brain development in human adolescence.
Professor Blakemore studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and then did her PhD at UCL and a postdoc in Lyon, France. Between 2003 and 2016 she held a series of Royal Society Research Fellowships at UCL. Professor Blakemore has won several awards for her research, including the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal 2011, the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award 2013 and the Klaus J Jacobs Prize 2015.
Professor Blakemore is actively involved in public engagement with science activities and has an interest in the links between neuroscience and education. She sat on the Royal Society BrainWaves working group for neuroscience, education and lifelong learning and the Royal Society Vision Committee for Science and Mathematics Education. She worked with the Company Three on their play, Brainstorm, written and performed by teenagers, which was shown at the National Theatre in London.