Hannah Critchlow podcast

041: Hannah Critchlow on the science of fate

This week’s guest is Dr Hannah Critchlow, cellular and molecular neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge. Hannah has recently released her new book the ‘science of fate’, exploring whether our genetic code determines our path or instead whether our genetic code acts as a start point from which we get to choose who we become.

I grabbed 15 mins with Hannah between sessions at the Cheltenham Science Festival and we had interesting conversation that covered a lot, explored some interesting concepts, but in many ways hinted to a pivotal moment in time where the study of genetics is at a delicate cross-roads about how our new found understanding of the area is applied for the future of the human race.

This episode provides a deep exploration into the intersections of neuroscience and genetics, particularly focusing on how they shape human behaviour and destiny. Dr. Hannah Critchlow shares expert insights on a range of compelling topics, from the role of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in resilience to the ethical implications of advancements in genetics, such as gene doping in sports.

The conversation also covers the area of epigenetics, adding a layer of complexity to our understanding of genetics and behaviour. In addition, the episode delves into the neuroscience of well-being, offering practical advice on enhancing mental and physical health through exercise, nutrition, lifelong education, and social connections.

Towards the end, the discussion touches on the tangible impact of acts of compassion and gratitude on one’s well-being, blending scientific evidence with philosophical considerations. Overall, the episode offers listeners a nuanced understanding of the complex interplay between genetics, neuroscience, and the choices that individuals make.

Show notes
04:35 The concept of free will and what neuroscience tells us about how we’re formed
05:30 New understanding of neuroscience and genetics asking us fundamental questions about who we are
08:30 Neuroscience of resilience and the role of BDNF – Brain derived neurotrophic factor – helping nerve cells to flourish
10:00 Characteristics are multi-factorial in nature yet many companies are now offering genetic screening
11:20 Connection to gene doping in sport and the latest on managing the dial of gene expression
13:00 The link to epigenetics and transfer of characteristics based on a stressor – a gap in our understanding!
14:25 Neuroscience of well-being, what can be done? Exercise, foods, life long education, social connection
16:05 What can we do to ensure we flourish? Expression and acts of compassion, practicing gratitude – develops a feeling of moral awe and have a profound effect on the mind and body!

Follow Hannah on Twitter https://twitter.com/hancritchlow
Buy her new book The Science of Fate https://www.hodder.co.uk/titles/hannah-critchlow/the-science-of-fate/9781473659285/

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