Fellows' Presentation

Brain Rewards, Plasticity, and Consumption: The Neurobiology of Sustainable Behavior

Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo

Part of the 2015–2016 Fellows' Presentation Series

Lecture by Ann-Christine Duhaime RI '16


Duhaime is exploring how inherent brain drive and reward systems may influence behaviors affecting the environment. Did the human brain evolve adaptively to crave more—stuff, stimulation—making it particularly hard for us to do with less? Children crave novelty, and since the brain is so plastic early in life, could high-density stimulation from electronic media affect the set point of the immature brain for novel stimulation? Duhaime hopes to link insights from neuroscience, social science, economics, environmental science, and public health to begin to learn whether considering these neurobiologic factors might help improve the effectiveness of behavioral approaches to mitigating excessive consumption.


Ann-Christine Duhaime is the Nicholas T. Zervas Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School. Her focus on modification of brain function and brain plasticity as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital has nurtured a parallel interest in how advances in behavioral neuroscience might intersect with the “big picture” issues of resource utilization and climate change.