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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 16:27 GMT
Baroness Susan Greenfield
Baroness Susan Greenfield
Baroness Susan Greenfield believes that women scientists are losing out
In a HardTalk Extra interview screened on 12 November, Patrick O'Connell met Baroness Susan Greenfield, Britain's foremost neuroscientist, a professor at Oxford University and the holder of no less than 21 honorary degrees.

When talking about the brain Baroness Greenfield has said in the past, "Use it, or you'll lose it." What did she mean by this?

"Your brain is like any other part of the human body. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Brain cells - if they are stimulated - the connections between them work better."

Research shows that the degenerative brain disease Alzheimer's tends to emerge less in people who have had more formal education than those without.

Recreational drugs

Talking about the recreational use of drugs, Baroness Greenfield says she has been open in her condemnation of the recent moves to decriminalise cannabis in the UK. She says her role is not to lecture or warn.

"I can only tell you how drugs work at the level of the chemicals. How that translates into a subjective feeling of wellbeing or whatever, nobody knows.
Your brain is like any other part of the human body. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes
Baroness Susan Greenfield

"I just explain just how the drugs are working. They modify connections between brain cells so that you see the world in a different way.

"There is a lot of evidence [that this] will predispose you to schizophrenia or depression, reduce your attention span or give you cognitive impairments."

A level playing field?

Baroness Greenfield has often caused controversy with her outspoken views on men in science. As a caricature, she says, 95% of scientists are male, they're always white, usually they're middle aged, they're follically challenged and they wear socks and sandals.

Her admission that she'd love the figure of Kylie Minogue and her taste for wearing miniskirts has brought her into some unfair criticism from her male colleagues.

It's not a level playing field, she explains, "In science, unlike in the arts, you have to publish papers based on experiments. If you are at home with a child, you can't be in the lab doing experiments."

HARDtalk Extra can be seen on Fridays on BBC World at 04:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 19:30 GMT and 00:30 GMT.

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30

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