Once upon a time stories lulled us to sleep as children. They continue to influence how we understand, explain and interact with the world as adults. We shape our memories into coherent narratives. We gossip, tell jokes and dream. We live in a world of stories brought to us in books, plays and film.

This sermon by renowned neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, explores just how crucial stories are to our experience of being human, and why we need fiction to understand fact.

Drawing on her extensive work in the field of brain development and consciousness research, Susan will explore how our brains respond and adapt to the tales we tell ourselves, and each other, and how understanding this process can help us to generate better stories. And we might even live happily ever after.

Baroness Susan Greenfield is Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University and a neuroscientist, writer, and broadcaster. She has been awarded thirty Honorary Degrees from British and foreign universities and heads a multi-disciplinary research group exploring novel brain mechanisms linked to neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Other awards include L'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur, from the French Government, and the 2010 Australian Medical Research Society Medal.

In addition, she has published a neuroscientific theory of consciousness (The Private Life of the Brain 2003) and developed an interest in the impact of 21st Century technologies on how young people think and feel, as discussed in her book ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century (2008). Susan's latest book came out this year: You and Me: The Neuroscience of Identity (2011).

This secular sermon took place at Conway Hall, London on Sunday 11 December 2011.

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